After a pandemic shutdown when audiences could not come into theaters for nearly two years, Paige Price, the producing artistic director of the Philadelphia Theatre Company, pondered and planned how to welcome back audiences in person. Theater companies had been largely out of touch with their core audiences, and the urgent need to prioritize diversity, inclusion, and equity was sparking conversations in Philadelphia and across the country. Finding the right way to return to live production has kept Price awake at night.

“I woke up in the middle of the night with this play. ‘Oh gosh, that play, now, is the perfect answer to this moment in time!’” recalled Price on her decision to give “The Garbologists” by Lindsay Joelle, its world premiere. “I got up at 3:30 and I read it. I wrote to her agent at 4:30 in the morning and I said, ‘I’m sorry, this sounds crazy, but I must have this play!’”

“The Garbologists” is the story of two New York City sanitation workers. One is a well-educated Black woman. Her partner in the garbage truck is a working-class white man with an implied history of run-ins with the law. The play is a warm, funny depiction of two people navigating the city’s trash landscape, while finding common ground between their radically different perspectives and backgrounds.

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Author: Peter Crimmins, WHYY
Image: Emma Lee, WHYY