Lydia R. Diamond’s SMART PEOPLE makes D.C. debut

Photo © Tony Powell. Arena Stage.
(L TO R) Lorene Chesley as Valerie Johnston, Gregory Perri as Brian White, Jaysen Wright as Jackson Moore and Sue  Jin Song as Ginny Yang in SMART PEOPLE. Photo © Tony Powell.

Four intellectuals – an actress, a doctor, a psychologist and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to race – search for love, acceptance and identity in Lydia R. Diamond’s comedy-drama SMART PEOPLE making its debut at Arena Stage. Deputy Artistic Director Seema Sueko makes her Arena Stage directing debut. SMART PEOPLE runs April 14-May 21, 2017 in the Kreeger Theater.

The cast features Lorene Chesley as Valerie Johnston, Gregory Perri as Brian White, Jaysen Wright as Jackson Moore and Sue  Jin Song as Ginny Yang. Set against the 2008 election of Barack Obama, SMART PEOPLE explores the nature of cultural bias.

Artistic Director Molly Smith called SMART PEOPLE “one of the smartest plays I’ve encountered in recent years. What a fascinating play to produce now, a few months into a new administration that is quite the opposite of the one featured in the play. Lydia’s play will take on new meaning in the current era of fake news.”

Playwright Lydia Diamond expressed what an honor it was to have Arena Stage producing the D.C. premiere of her play. “Arena has made itself an artistic home for me again and again, from play development, a commission, residency and now two productions – this sort of long-term investment is key to empowering writers to do what we do, as well and prolifically as possible. [Director] Seema’s sophisticated and culturally relevant voice is perfect for the stewardship of this play, a story that wants desperately to be in conversation with this city, in this country, at this time.”

Post-show conversations with artists and staff are scheduled April 26, May 9 and 10 following the noon performance; May 2 following the 7:30 PM performance; and May 18 following the 8:00 PM performance.

SMART PEOPLE is generously sponsored by R. Lucia Riddle. Additional support is provided in memory of Toni A. Ritzenberg.

Performances dates and times are Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7:30 PM, Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 8:oo PM, Saturday and Sunday at 2:00 PM. Matinees at noon are scheduled for 4/26, 5/9 and 5/10. Tickets are $40 – 90 and may be purchased online at, by phone at (202) 488.3300 or at the Sales Office  at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.