An Islanders' fan with a bag on his head.

Sports have made it into the theatre landscape before, including everything from Damn Yankees to Lombardi to Magic/Bird to smaller efforts like Our Greatest YearThe Play About The Coach, and various other explorations of football and football (or soccer). But an upcoming play at the New York Theatre Workshop (through their “Next Door at NYTW” program, which “provides a home for companies and artists who are producing their own work”) sounds like it’s doing something very original, exploring the NHL’s New York Islanders’ 2017-18 season and examining “the crisis of the team as the crisis of white male American identity.” Here’s the full blurb from the NYTW’s website for Islander, set to run from March 24, 2020—April 12, 2020:

The 2017-2018 NHL season was an embarrassment for the New York Islanders. Displaced from their home rink and in danger of losing their captain, they never made it to the playoffs. In ISLANDER, Playwright Liza Birkenmeier and director Katie Brook repurpose commentary from this abysmal season, to explore the crisis of the team as the crisis of white male American identity. ISLANDER was developed though a New Georges Audrey Residency.

As you can expect, that’s already led to some Twitter conversation:

So, that’s certainly generating some conversation, although perhaps not the kind the playwright hoped for (especially as many of the people talking about it are fans of the rival Rangers). Birkenmeier is no stranger to unusual themes, though; her bio on the play site mentions that one of her previous plays, radio island, was “on the 2016 Kilroys list and was a finalist for the inaugural Relentless Award,” and a little Googling reveals this description of it:

Ellen is an expert hostage negotiator facing her biggest challenges yet.  In this high-stakes thriller, she works from her rural childhood home to free an oil tanker from pirates – while also balancing her injured mother’s rehab, salvaging her crumbling love life, and tracking down a mysterious visitor from her troubled past.  Home life and international crisis converge in this inventive new play from Liza Birkenmeier, directed by Jaki Bradley (Good Men Wanted, 2017 Powerhouse mainstage production).

So Birkenmeier seems to be interested in subjects you don’t usually see on the stage. And Islander certainly fits that bill.

[The New York Theatre Workshop; photo from Forever Blueshirts, a Rangers’ blog]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.