Syracuse Stage’s comedy ‘Yoga Play’ can be viewed in-person, virtually

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SYRACUSE — Syracuse Stage starts the New Year with an invitation to laugh with the East Coast premiere of Dipika Guha’s satirical comedy “Yoga Play.”

Under the direction of Stage’s new associate artistic director Melissa Crespo, “Yoga Play” started Wednesday and runs through Feb. 6. Tickets are on sale at www.syracusestage.org or through the Box Office at 315-443-3275. “Yoga Play” will be available as a video on demand Jan. 31 through Feb. 20. Information about accessing the video may be found at www.syracusestage.org.

For the safety of everyone, Syracuse Stage will require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all patrons ages 5 and older. Proof must be shown at the door prior to entry to the theater. Unvaccinated patrons will be required to show proof of a negative COVID test from a health care provider. Masks must be worn at all times by everyone entering the building. Full details are available at syracusestage.org/covid.php.

“Yoga Play” is the third of six shows in Stage’s 2021-22 season. Originally performed at South Coast Repertory in 2017, the comedy skewers the multi-billion-dollar athleisure wear industry (resemblances to certain well-known companies intentional) and the quest to ring big profits from the physical and spiritual practice of yoga.

Playwright Guha, who is based in Los Angeles, said she had been thinking specifically about California when she wrote “Yoga Play,” especially as a place where the desire for wealth and authenticity are seemingly equally important. “Yoga,” she said, “seemed to be at the nexus of that.”

Much of “Yoga Play” takes place in the corporate headquarters of Jojomon, an athleisure wear giant with popular products such as lavender scented yoga pants.

It is the kind of place where employees sit on exercise balls while meeting and are encouraged to regularly share their dreams with colleagues.

New CEO Joan and her top executives face a crisis when they learn a BBC investigation has identified one of Jojomon’s overseas manufacturers as using child labor. Their woefully misguided attempt to reverse the damage by enlisting the aid of a famed and reclusive yogi to help restore the company’s “authenticity” provides the comedic through line of the play.

Director Crespo said she is happy to be directing such a funny play, “because we all need to laugh right now. ‘Yoga Play’ mirrors what we feel when we work too much and prioritize greed over humanity. It encourages us to slow down, to meditate and have more empathy for each other.”

Guha was born in Calcutta, grew up in Russia and the United Kingdom and came to the United States to study playwriting, eventually earning a master’s of fine arts degree at Yale. She has had numerous plays produced at 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 believes “Yoga Play” should prove just the right antidote for a cold Syracuse winter made more challenging by continued concerns about COVID.

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

While a COVID outbreak in the company forced the early closure of “Matilda the Musical” in December, Hupp said he believes it is important for Syracuse Stage to continue with the 2021-22 season as planned.

“We’ll continue to produce work in the context of the safety guidelines and best practices outlined by our unions, Syracuse University, Onondaga County and the CDC,” Hupp said. “Provided we can do so in a manner that is safe for our audience, staff and artists, we will do our best to offer relief and refuge and provide a ray of optimism and a sense of community for all.”

Syracuse Stage COVID-19 Safety Guidelines

At the door, audience members age 5 and older will be required to show proof of full vaccination, or for those not vaccinated, a negative COVID-19 test result. For children under five, proof of negative test is strongly encouraged but not required for entry to the theatre.

A valid negative COVID-19 test must meet the following conditions: A negative PCR test from a health care provider within 72 hours of entry for the event you are attending or a negative Antigen test from a health care provider within six hours of entry for the event you are attending.

Vaccination verification accepted in any of the following forms: physical vaccination card, State Excelsior Pass, digital vaccination cards through your home Health Department or photo of vaccination card. Full vaccination means that either 14 days have passed since receiving the second dose of FDA or WHO authorized double-dose vaccines or that 14 days have passed since receiving the sole dose of FDA or WHO authorized single-dose vaccines.

Without vaccination proof or a negative COVID-19 test, patrons will not be allowed into the building.

Masks are required at all times by everyone regardless of vaccination status, except while eating or drinking in designated areas. Food and drink will not be permitted in the auditorium.

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