Eisa Davis’ “Bulrusher” Added to McCarter Roster
Bulrusher by Eisa Davis, a Pulitzer Prize finalist for Drama in 2007, will be produced by McCarter Theatre Center May 6-28, 2023 on the main stage of the Roger S. Berlind Theater. The production – with casting to be announced – will be directed by McCarter Associate Artistic Director Nicole A. Watson.
Bulrusher was a recent streaming success, garnering wide attention during the height of the pandemic when the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel launched the digital theater series Bard at the Gate, now co-curated by Vogel and Watson in association with McCarter.
The play is set in 1955 in the redwood country north of San Francisco. A multiracial girl grows up in a predominantly white town whose residents pepper their speech with the historical dialect of Boontling. Found floating in a basket on the river as an infant, Bulrusher is an orphan with a gift for clairvoyance that makes her feel like a stranger even around those who think they know her best: the taciturn schoolteacher who adopted her, the madam who runs her brothel with a fierce discipline, the logger with a zest for horses and women, and the guitar-slinging boy who is after Bulrusher’s heart. Just when she thought her world might close in on her, she discovers an entirely new sense of self when a Black girl from Alabama comes to town.
Bulrusher had its world premiere at New York’s Urban Stages in 2006, and was subsequently produced at Shotgun Players, Pillsbury House, and Intiman Theatre, among others. The play was a perfect fit for Bard at the Gate, created to provide overlooked and underappreciated new American plays with a platform at what turned out to be the new dawn of digital theater when the pandemic shut down live productions for nearly two years.
To date, Bard at the Gate has presented eight new works that otherwise might have languished on unproduced script piles. The series has emphasized a diverse offering of plays representing voices in the American theatrical canon such as women, BIPOC, LGBTQ, and artists with disabilities.
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