Scene from Syracuse presenting a satirical comedy about greed, humanity | arts and entertainment

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SYRACUSE — Syracuse Stage kicks off the new year with an invitation to laugh with the East Coast premiere of Dipika Guha’s delightfully satirical comedy “Yoga Play.”

Led by Syracuse Stage’s new Associate Artistic Director, Melissa Crespo, “Yoga Play” opened Wednesday and will run through Sunday, February 6.

For everyone’s safety, Syracuse Stage will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all guests ages 5 and older. Proof must be presented at the door before entering the theatre. Unvaccinated customers will be required to present proof of a negative COVID test from a healthcare provider. Masks must be worn at all times by anyone entering the building.

“Yoga Play” is the third of six shows in Syracuse’s Stage 2021/2022 season. Originally shown on the South Coast Repertory in 2017, the comedy tangles the multi-billion dollar sportswear industry and the quest for big profits from the physical and spiritual practice of yoga.

Playwright Ms. Guha, who is based in Los Angeles, said she had California in mind specifically when writing ‘Yoga Play’, particularly as a place where the desire for wealth and authenticity are apparently equally important. “Yoga,” she said, “seemed to be at the heart of it.”

Much of “Yoga Play” takes place at the headquarters of Jojomon, a sportswear giant offering popular products such as lavender-scented yoga pants. It’s the kind of place where employees sit on exercise balls while meeting and are encouraged to regularly share their dreams with co-workers. New CEO Joan and her senior staff face a crisis when they learn that a BBC investigation has identified one of Jojomon’s overseas makers as using child labor. Their woefully misguided attempt to reverse the damage by enlisting the help of a famous, reclusive yogi to help restore the company’s “authenticity” provides the comic across the line of the play.

Ms Crespo said she was happy to direct such a funny play “because we all need a laugh right now. “Yoga Play” reflects how we feel when we work too hard and prioritize greed over humanity. It encourages us to slow down, meditate, and have more empathy for each other.

Ms. Guha was born in Kolkata, grew up in Russia and the UK, and came to the US to study playwriting, eventually earning an MFA at Yale. She has had numerous plays produced in theaters across the country and has written for the television shows “Black Monday”, “Sneaky Pete” and “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”.

Syracuse Stage artistic director Robert Hupp said he thinks “Yoga Play” should prove the right antidote for a cold Syracuse winter made more difficult by ongoing concerns about COVID.

“These days tend to leave us feeling isolated and uncertain. Now, more than ever, we need to be able to share the joy of common experiences,” he said.

As a corporate COVID outbreak forced “Matilda the Musical” to close early in December, Hupp said he thinks it’s important for Syracuse Stage to continue with the 2021-22 season as planned.

“We will continue to produce work within the context of safety guidelines and best practices outlined by our unions, Syracuse University, Onondaga County and the CDC,” Hupp said. “Provided we can do this in a way that is safe for our audiences, staff and performers, we will do our best to offer relief and refuge and provide a glimmer of optimism and a sense of community for all.”

“Yoga Play” will be available as a video on demand from Jan. 31 to Feb. 31. 20. Information on accessing the video can be found at www.syracusestage.org.

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The details

WHAT: Syracuse Stage presents “Yoga Play” by Dipika Guha.

WHEN/WHERE: The satirical comedy runs through Wednesday, Feb. 6 at Syracuse Stage, 820 E. Genesee St.

COST: Ticket prices range from $55 to $20. To buy tickets and for show times, go to syracustage.org

VIRTUAL ACCESS: “Yoga Play” will be available for video on demand from January 31 through February 6. Access costs $30 and includes a 48-hour viewing window once you click “start watching.”

PLEASE NOTE: Syracuse Stage will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all guests 5 years and older. Proof must be presented at the door before entering the theatre. Unvaccinated customers will be required to present proof of a negative COVID test from a healthcare provider. Masks must be worn at all times by anyone entering the building

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