A still from The 51st SateSuzanne Blue Star Boy/Arena Stage
A still from The 51st State. Credit: Suzanne Blue Star Boy/Arena Stage

The 51st State

Ten D.C. playwrights work to capture the tumultuous summer of 2020 in The 51st State, the third in a series of films commissioned by Arena Stage. Local dramatists were tasked with interviewing residents about moments that have defined the summer of 2020 in the nation’s capital, like the protests at Black Lives Matter Plaza, the push to pull down racist monuments, and the renewed drive for statehood. In response, each playwright wrote a short monologue, which was then staged and filmed by Arena Stage staff. Actors portraying reflective residents of the District include Sherri L. Edelen, Joy Jones, Todd Scofield, Dani Stoller, Justin Weaks, and Jacob Yeh. Watching The 51st State is free, but Arena Stage encourages anyone with a generous dining budget to splurge on a “Supper Club” meal provided by area restaurants, with a percentage of proceeds supporting the theater. Options for two range from a $64 chipotle lime chicken from Ridgewells Catering to a $95 feast from Rasika, delivery included. The 51st State is available at 7 p.m. on Sept. 16 for Supper Club members and Sept. 17 for the general public. The film can be viewed at arenastage.org. Free. —Rebecca J. Ritzel

Renate Aller: side walk

Photographer Renate Aller was in Washington right before the coronavirus pandemic shut everything down. On March 6, she and her husband Hugh were visiting the Conrad Hotel, which had purchased a large number of her signature oceanscapes. The couple had dinner—their last indoor meal with friends to date—with a small group of curators; then they went on her last trip to a museum. Though based in New York City, Aller has long been connected to D.C. through her multiple shows at the Adamson Gallery, which closed its physical location prior to the pandemic but continues to represent her virtually. When Aller returned to New York, she decided to document the impact of social distancing on her neighbors and friends over April and May. She photographed herself meeting friends on her street, often the participants’ first face-to-face contact in weeks, always seated six feet apart and wearing masks. The collection, titled side walk, is now, appropriately for the pandemic era, posted online. The subjects, mostly posed in front of the same white-painted doors, offer poses that range from heartfelt to downbeat to giddy, with the dog, musical instrument, or fashion-forward clothing adding some verve to the tense historical moment. The full project is available at renatealler.com. Free. —Louis Jacobson

This post has been corrected to reflect that The 51st State is the third in a series of films, not the fourth.