Quantum Theater Opens ‘Chimerica’; ‘An Untitled New Play by Jason Timberlake’ Onstage at City (Sat., 11/27/21)

CHIMERICA by Lucy Kirkwood. Quantum Theatre. Nov. 27 – Dec. 19. 

Ghosts of the past haunt Zhang Lin in Quantum Theatre's 'Chimerica.' Characters Left to right, Ariel Xiu as Liuli, Tobias Wong as Young Zhang Lin, Hansel Tan as Zhang Lin (background). (Photo by Jason Snyder)

Ghosts of the past haunt Zhang Lin in Quantum Theatre’s ‘Chimerica.’ Characters Left to right, Ariel Xiu as Liuli, Tobias Wong as Young Zhang Lin, Hansel Tan as Zhang Lin (background). (Photo by Jason Snyder)

1) There are many ways to create a play or movie “based” on real events. You can try a mostly faithful reenactment (Apollo 13 set the bar high), or weave a fictional story into a true one (Titanic), or use true events as a framework filled in with imagined dialogue, details, and even music: Hamilton! In the acclaimed Chimerica, British playwright Lucy Kirkwood starts from a dramatic true incident and spins out an imaginary sequel. At the end of the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989, a man bravely stood in front of a column of army tanks to block their progress. Photos of “Tank Man” by an American journalist became iconic images; Tank Man’s identity and subsequent fate remain unknown to the public. Chimerica imagines the photographer, decades later, setting off on a quest to find the man. Clues lead back and forth between China and America, as the hunt becomes many things: a detective story, a journey through the cultures of the two superpowers, an inquiry into truth-telling. Chimerica premiered in London in 2013 and won the Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play. Quantum Theatre presents Chimerica in Pittsburgh at The Maverick Hotel, 120 S. Whitfield St., East Liberty. (M.V.)

AN UNTITLED NEW PLAY BY JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE by Matt Schatz. City Theatre and Pittsburgh CLO. Nov. 27 – Dec. 19.

The lineup for 'An Untitled New Play by Justin Timberlake,' L to R: actor/singers Julianne Avolio, Melessie Clark, Lara Hayhurst, and Craig MacDonald.

The lineup for ‘An Untitled New Play by Justin Timberlake,’ L to R: actor/singers Julianne Avolio, Melessie Clark, Lara Hayhurst, and Craig MacDonald.

2) An Untitled New Play by Justin Timberlake isn’t really by the pop icon. Rather, it is a new musical by writer-composer Matt Schatz, whose comedy The Burdens was a hit at City Theatre in 2019. The musical also skews comical and is said to be about the clash between art and commerce, with Mr. Timberlake serving as an embodiment of the issue. A literary manager at a theater company wants to stage fascinating new works by little-known playwrights. However the chief executive officer believes what the company really needs is a blockbuster by a widely known, sex-symbol-ish, rock/pop superstar. Timberlake in real life claims that “What Goes Around … Comes Around.” We shall see what Matt Schatz’s musical has to say regarding this adage. City Theatre presents An Untitled New Play by Justin Timberlake in partnership with Pittsburgh CLO. It’s directed by Reginald L. Douglas, with music direction by Douglas Levine and orchestrations by Rona Siddiqui. On City Theatre’s mainstage at 1300 Bingham St., South Side. (M,V.)