They say that nothing good happens after midnight, but what about good entertainment?
People’s Light, one of Pennsylvania’s largest professional nonprofit theatres, is exploring those secretive, scandalous and salacious conversations that can happen in the wee early hours of the morning through their latest virtual production, “America 2 am.” The series—which streams exclusively on peopleslight.org—changes every night and acts as an anthology with a new cast and storyline every episode.
The first show of the new series debuted online March 1, but audiences can catch new installments of the four-part series on March 15, 22 and 26 as well. “America 2 am” is part of the organization’s virtual initiative People’s Light—Always On, which started last April amidst the pandemic. This show however is said to be the theater’s most experimental and risqué. The entire series was conceived, rehearsed, recorded, and edited remotely via Zoom, and the idea came from Producing Director Zak Berkman, who wrote two of the four episodes, partly inspired by his previous work in daytime television.
“I grew up loving soap operas, and wrote for a few. During the height of the first wave of the pandemic, as theatres around the world turned to Zoom as a means of production, I recalled the early days of television when the medium substantially evolved thanks to the inclusion of daytime serials on the networks,” Berkman says. “At their best, soaps lure you in with melodrama, then surprise you with their understanding of human emotions and their complex way of tackling politically controversial stories. ‘America 2 am‘ isn’t a soap, but it has a similar duality—part voyeuristic guilty pleasure, part social exploration, and lots of subversive fun.”
The first episode was titled “Oh, Canada,” and followed a woman who makes a monumental request of her estranged ex-lover to save her troubled son. “Oh Canada” was written by Berkman and directed by People’s Light Executive Artistic Director Abigail Adams, marking the first writer/director collaboration between the two.
According to the release, next up on the docket is, “Leaving Teaching,” which follows young teacher, Cordae, as she maintains a secret life online selling sex toys to virgins to afford her mother’s medical bills. Late one night, she’s surprised by a fan with a potentially indecent proposal. Episode 2 is directed by People’s Light Resident Director Steve H. Broadnax III, who most recently directed their commissioned digital short ’20/20 Vision’, and is written by poet and playwright Candrice Jones.
When asked what drew her to the project, Jones says, “One conversation amongst young Americans is debt. Many times, narratives regarding debt, especially in theater, involve patriarchal figures such as Troy Maxson of ‘Fences’ and Willy Loman in ‘Death of a Salesman’. I wanted to write about debt in a capitalist society from the perspective of a young Black woman who is doing her best to control her own fate.”
“Leaving Teaching” stars film, television, and theatre actors Sola Bamis, who portrayed Shirley on the final season of ‘Mad Men,’ and DeWanda Wise, best known for her work as Nola Darling in Spike Lee’s Netflix adaptation of ‘She’s Gotta Have It’. The episode also features returning guest artist Eric Robinson Jr., who appeared in ’20/20 Vision’ and 2019’s acclaimed world premiere of ‘Mud Row’ at People’s Light.
Episode 3 is titled “The Perilous Flight.” The third installment, which was also written by Berkman and Adams, is connected to the first episode, “Oh, Canada” but can be watched on its own. Then, lastly, the fourth episode titled “Lucía and Sophi Moans” follows the character of Lucía, who after being sexually unfulfilled by her long-term boyfriend turns to online persona “Sophi Moans” for help.
“America 2am” can be digitally streamed at peopleslight.org with an online account. Once purchased, episodes can be enjoyed by everyone in the household, anytime, and any number of times they want as they are released. Closed captioning and Spanish subtitles are available. Additionally, People’s Light offers a range of discounts to individual Always On Premium titles, including $10 access for theatre industry professionals and 25% off for military families, teachers, and frontline healthcare workers as well.