DES MOINES (Closed)
“Denis Johnson’s Des Moines outlines a mismatch between surfaces and soul…..the characters live lives that feel almost willfully marginal, but their psyches are shot through with deep and often numinous yearnings.” - The New Yorker
“THERE’S NO MORE VIVID, COMIC, TRAGIC, AND MESMERIZING THEATRICAL VERSION OF THIS FALLEN WORLD THAN HIS FINAL PLAY DES MOINES.” - Esquire
“THE EMPTINESS FEELS AS VAST AND UNSETTLING AS ITS GREAT PLAINS SETTING…It resists…the conventional rhythms of a staged conversation.” - New York Magazine
“★★★★ “SUPERB…brings Denis Johnson’s strange, unsettling play to comic life…a compellingly funny dark ride, especially as performed by this outstanding ensemble under Arin Arbus’ tonally precise direction.” - New York Stage Review
“A KIND OF OTHERWORLDLY BACCHANAL OF TROUBLED SOULS.” - The New York Times
“Denis Johnson’s final play gets THE ALL-STAR TREATMENT…THE PERFORMANCES…HILARIOUS AS THEY ARE ABSURD.” - TheaterMania
“I have a feeling God finds us pretty funny. But that’s all the speaking I should do for God—he doesn’t go around talking about me.”—Denis Johnson, New York Magazine
In association with Elizabeth Cuthrell, David Urrutia, and Evenstar Films
New York Premiere
By Denis Johnson
Directed by Arin Arbus
December 10, 2022 – January 8, 2023
Running time: 1 hour and 40 minutes, no intermission
In a seedy apartment on the edge of Des Moines, an unlikely assortment of people come together for an impromptu party that takes them, by the evening’s end, on a dam bursting ride down a stream-of-consciousness deluge. Downing depth chargers and singing karaoke, they struggle with the strange and unholy trinity of life, death, and sex in this work filled with dark humor and mystery. “What I write about,” Johnson observed, “Is the dilemma of living in a fallen world and asking why it is like this if there’s supposed to be a God.”
Michiko Kakutani in her 2017 Appraisal of Denis Johnson in The New York Times observed, “He used his startling gift for language to create word pictures as detailed and visionary, and as varied, as paintings by Edward Hopper and Hieronymus Bosch, capturing the lives of outsiders — the lost, the dispossessed, the damned — with empathy and unsparing candor…There is a fierce, ecstatic quality to Mr. Johnson’s strongest work that lends his characters and their stories an epic, almost mythic dimension, in the best American tradition of Melville and Whitman.”
Please click here to view the 360° Viewfinder for Des Moines.
Johanna Day, Arliss Howard, Hari Nef, Michael Shannon, Heather Alicia Simms
Scenic Design by Riccardo Hernández
Costume Design by Qween Jean
Lighting Design by Scott Zielinski
Original Music & Sound Design by Mikaal Sulaiman
Choreography by Byron Easley
Voice Director Andrew Wade
Dramaturgy by Jonathan Kalb
Fight Direction by J. David Brimmer
Denis Johnson (Playwright) is the author of nine novels, three books of verse, two short story collections, a novella, and seven plays. He received many awards and honors, including The National Book Award for Fiction (Tree of Smoke), the Library of Congress Award for American Fiction, and the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction from the Paris Review. In 2014, Denis Johnson was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Two of his works were adapted into a film: his book of short stories, Jesus’ Son, starring Billy Crudup and Samantha Morton, and most recently Stars at Noon, directed by Claire Denis. His plays have been produced in New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and Seattle.
Arin Arbus (Director) is the Resident Director at TFANA, where she most recently directed the critically acclaimed The Merchant of Venice starring John Douglas Thompson. On Broadway, she directed Terrence McNally’s Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (Tony nom for best revival) starring Audra McDonald and Michael Shannon.
Art @ Paul Davis
Deloitte and Bloomberg Philanthropies are the 2022-2023 Season Sponsors.
Principal support for Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs is provided by the Jerome L. Greene Foundation Fund in the New York Community Trust, The SHS Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, and The Thompson Family Foundation.
Theatre for a New Audience’s season and programs are also made possible, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest; the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.