Food & Drink

Playwright Danielle Mohlman’s Intimate Theatrical Experiment

Over the course of three weeks, 11 different couples will perform her two-person love story 'Nexus' live from their living rooms

By Gemma Wilson April 15, 2020


With theaters closed and the future of live performance hazy, playwright Danielle Mohlman has manifested a small miracle: a multi-week run of her play, Nexus, in a digital format that feels both original and organic.

“I was talking to a lot of actors who were also holed up with their actor partners, and then I started thinking, what if I pull out this two-person play again? Is there anything there?” Mohlman says. “It’s a play about two people that can’t get away from each other, no matter how hard they try. Not in a scary way, but a “they keep showing up in each other’s life” kind of situation. I was like, how weird would that be to do [this play] when you literally cannot leave?”

Like all artists, Mohlman, who is an arts journalist as well as a playwright, has been wrestling with creativity under quarantine. Dacha Theatre necessarily postponed its production of her play, Dust, from a May slot at West of Lenin to a tentative production in the fall, dates TBD. Suddenly, trapped at home in Ballard, Mohlman didn’t know what to do with her creative self.  Some playwright friends seemed to relish the newfound writing time, but Mohlman paused rewrites of her in-progress plays because sitting down to work felt like banging her head against the keyboard. “Now I’m putting all my focus on this project [producing Nexus] and flexing different creative muscles for me, so that’s been really satisfying,” she says. 

Mohlman wrote Nexus, a modern love story about two people who spend three years falling in and out of love with each other, while in a writer’s group at the prestigious Arena Stage in Washington D.C. in 2013 and 2014; it went on to receive an honorable mention on the 2015 Kilroys List, which celebrates excellent new plays by woman, trans, and non-binary playwrights. The show’s minimal casting requirements help skirt one of the biggest problems cropping up in this era of experimental Zoom performances: acting together remotely is hard. Video lags, audio gaps, confusing sightlines, no body language—common tech problems make the work of acting, of actively listening to another’s person’s whole body, incredibly difficult. Casting real-life quarantined couples, both of whom are performers, meant the show’s two-person cast could perform live together. If Mohlman got a few different couples on board, she figured, each couple could perform the 90-minute play once, live from their living room. 

Follow Us

Arts Story: Forgotten Voices

Arts Story: Forgotten Voices

A world premiere production by a local playwright and actor looks at the history of Black theater in America

Breakout: “History of Theatre: About, By, For and Near” runs from Jan. 28 through Feb. 12 at Kreielsheimer Place, 700 Union St. in Seattle. When actor-playwright Reginald André Jackson started doing workshops for his upcoming play, “History of Theatre: About, By, For and Near,” which looks at the untold stories of African American thespianism, he…

Backstory: Grief and Art

Backstory: Grief and Art

How Elizabeth Coplan turned to play writing to deal with loss

From left, actors Monica Domina and Cristina Key in “Untold 2 Actors,” a “Grief Dialogues” performance directed by Rachel Delmar.

Scott Shoemaker’s 8-Bit Diva Returns in 'Ms. Pak-Man: Breakout!'

Scott Shoemaker’s 8-Bit Diva Returns in ‘Ms. Pak-Man: Breakout!’

This new comedy-cabaret zooms through the arcade icon's checkered past with the penal system

This article appears in print in the April 2020 issue. Click here to subscribe. Unfortunately, due to evolving public health concerns related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, Ms. Pak-Man: Breakout! has been cancelled.  Through 4/11. $25–$35. 7 p.m. Re-bar, downtown;  In terms of pop culture notoriety, Ms. Pak-Man is just as famous as any icon of stage…

Stories from Seattle: Playwright and Performer Sara Porkalob on Hope, Anger, and Her Missed Broadway Opportunity

Stories from Seattle: Playwright and Performer Sara Porkalob on Hope, Anger, and Her Missed Broadway Opportunity

"Just like that, my entire community lost their jobs."

This is part of a series of personal essays we’re calling Stories from Seattle, contributed by our community and designed to show how the coronavirus pandemic is impacting the lives of Seattleites. Want to share your story, coping mechanisms, wildest ideas? We’d love to hear. Please email: On April 5, I was planning to leave Seattle for…