Current Production

  • A Celebration of Art, Voice and Imagination

    A Celebration of Art, Voice and Imagination

    May 16 – June 6, 2021

    Join us outdoors this spring, at the River Road Unitarian Universalist Building in Bethesda.

    The festival will celebrate extraordinary voices and ideas, showcasing a number of multidisciplinary events including play readings, poets, salons and conversations. 

    Unexpected Stage is committed to safety. Masks will be required for all attendees of this spring’s outdoor event series.

    Due to safety considerations, all tickets must be purchased in advance by phone or online, and all seating will be assigned in advance.

    ALL EVENTS will take place outdoors, in the courtyard of the River Road Unitarian Universalist Congregation Building, 6301 River Road, Bethesda, MD 20817, with just 24 socially-distanced spaces for you and your party.

    Tickets: $16

    Nothing to Lose by Denise J. Hart
    Staged Reading and Q&A
    Directed by Steven Levya
    Sunday, May 16 at 2 p.m.
    Rain date Saturday, May 22 at 2 p.m.

    Family. Race. Betrayal. Honor. 

    Television newscaster Stephen Campbell perceived himself to be a role model for Black youth. That is, until a 13-year-old barely-a-teenager he was mentoring is killed, along with the teenager’s cousin, in a gang initiation gone wrong. In the aftermath of these deaths, Campbell struggles with his conflicting views on what it means to be Black – and those struggles threaten to tear apart what he treasures most: his own family. 

    2018 Bay Area Playwrights Competition Finalist

    2012 Black & Latino Playwrights Conference Finalist 

    Please note: Nothing to Lose contains strong language.

    Poetry Reading, Musical Performance and Salon
    Featuring Le Hinton, Enrique Reynosa, Nicole Morgan and Michele Simms-Burton
    Sunday May 23 at 2 p.m.
    Rain date Saturday May 29 at 2 p.m.

    Unexpected Stage is delighted to join acclaimed poets Le Hinton and Nicole Morgan, and retired American University professor of African-American Studies Michele Simms-Burton for an insightful poetry reading and stimulating salon, examining African-American Culture, joys and artistry. The reading and salon will be uplifted by Enrique Reynosa’s majestic violin.  

    Dr. Simms-Burton’s presentation When Humanity Weeps; or, Salt Trails on Brown Cheeks will engage listeners to reimagine our finite lives on this planet and the good that we can do while we are here.

    Michele L. Simms-Burton is a retired university professor of American literature and African American studies, writer, and photographer. She continues to lecture throughout the world about topics pertaining to African American culture. She is based in metro DC.

    Le Hinton is the author of six poetry collections including, most recently, Sing Silence (Iris G. Press, 2018). His work has been widely published and can be found in The Best American Poetry 2014, the Baltimore Review, the Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and more.  His poem “Epidemic” was honored by The Pennsylvania Center for the Book, and “Our Ballpark” can be found outside Clipper Magazine Stadium in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

    Enrique Reynosa, a native of Monterrey, Mexico, completed his Bachelor’s degree in Violin Performance at Shenandoah Conservatory in Winchester, VA. He has also obtained a Master’s Degree and an Artist Certificate in Violin Performance at Azusa Pacific University (APU) in California and the Doctorate in Musical Arts program at The Catholic University of America under the direction of maestro Jose Cueto.

    Nicole Morgan, poet, director and playwright, is a lover of all things theatre. In 2013 she graduated from Bowie State University with double degrees in Biology and Chemistry but could not shake her real passion – the stage. Soon after graduating, she was introduced to the Deaf community and the rest, as they say, is history. She immersed herself in the community and further into the arts. Combining her love of both, she began to create dual-language productions, under the mentorship of Fred Beam, that feature both Deaf and hearing artists working on and offstage, together. Her work has been featured in festivals from DC to Toronto, Canada.

    Sophisticated New Ones by Keith Powell
    Staged Reading and Q & A
    Directed by Dawn Thomas Reidy
    Sunday May 30, 2021 at 2 p.m.
    Rain date Saturday June 5 at 2 p.m.

    Sophisticated New Ones explores the intersection of identity, belonging, and antique furniture, as a family grapples with their present and future, living within a country they no longer recognize. 

    Playwright Keith Powell is an American television actor, writer, director, and web series creator, known for his role as James “Toofer” Spurlock on 30 Rock, and for creating and starring in the web series Keith Broke His Leg, for which he won several Indie Series Awards in 2016.

    Poetry Reading and Salon
    Featuring Steven Leyva and Kwame R. Vanderhorst
    Sunday, June 6 at 2 p.m.
    Rain date Sat June 12 at 2 p.m.

    Unexpected Stage is thrilled to join prize winning poet Steven Leyva and noted author Kwame Vanderhorst for a perceptive poetry reading and invigorating salon that will dive into a revelatory look at race and class, including the ways in which African American culture has persevered in the face of adversity. You will not want to miss both thinkers together for the first time. 

    Drawing heat and music (and luscious food) from a New Orleans and Houston childhood, Steven Leyva‘s poetry reveals a sensibility forged by a growing awareness of race and class: child’s joy and bafflement, a black Baltimore father’s worry. Gorgeous poems will sweep the listeners as into a parade, of memory, sensation, rhythm and protest.

    Steven Leyva‘s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications, including Best American Poetry 2020. He is a Cave Canem fellow and author of The Understudy’s Handbook which won the Jean Feldman Poetry Prize from Washington Writers Publishing House.

    Salon: THEY Know What We Sayin’

    Speaker, Kwame R. Vanderhorst addresses language and race in this salon, “THEY Know What We Sayin”: Black folk are labeled “verbally deficient” because we use Black vernacular, so-called “Ebonics.” THEY make false judgments and assumptions, see as less competent, and even deny opportunities to Blacks even though THEY Know What We Sayin’. Wanna know why THEY do that?

    Kwame R. Vanderhorst is a native of Youngstown, Ohio. Mr. Vanderhorst is Co-Founder of Prepare Our Youth, Inc. Prepare Our Youth is a nonprofit organization servicing children, youth, and families, based in Washington, DC. Mr. Vanderhorst has written and published eight books, including Smellin’ Ourselves, Call Me A Playa Hater, and Rearing African Children under American Occupation

    Unexpected Stage is carefully following COVID safety protocols. We ask that all attendees wear masks. When you purchase your ticket, there is an opportunity to let us know who if you’ll be attending with someone else in your “bubble.”

    For any questions or concerns regarding precautions, please email or call 301-337-8290.