Step Into the Rehearsal Room With Michael Shannon and Johanna Day | Playbill

Photo Features Step Into the Rehearsal Room With Michael Shannon and Johanna Day

The two star alongside Heather Alicia Simms, Arliss Howard, and Hari Nef in TFANA's upcomig production of Denis Johnson's Des Moines.

Michael Shannon and Johanna Day in rehearsal for Des Moines Hollis King

Rehearsals are underway for Theatre for a New Audience’s production of Denis Johnson's Des Moines, which will begin previews November 29 ahead of a December 9 opening.

Cast members two-time Tony nominee Johanna Day (Sweat, Proof), Oscar, Golden Globe, and Tony nominee Michael Shannon (Knives Out, Long Day’s Journey into Night), Heather Alicia Simms (Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, A Raisin in the Sun), Arliss Howard (Mank, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone), and Hari Nef (“Daddy”, Transparent) are currently preparing for the Off-Broadway run, which will perform through January 1, 2023 at Polonsky Shakespeare Center.

Hari Nef and Michael Shannon in rehearsal for Des Moines Hollis King

Chance events—including a plane crash, a rescued wedding ring, and a frightening diagnosis—bring five characters together in Des Moines, Iowa. The dark comedy, complete with karaoke, liquor, and sex, "confronts death, mortality, and the stubborn pursuit of grace among those who barely believe in it."

Director Arin Arbus, who helms the production, said, “Denis Johnson was a keen and loving observer of life. He wrote about what’s holy and hilarious and hard in our daily lives, and was interested in the eternal human struggle to be awake to life in an uncontrollable and incomprehensible universe.”

Arliss Howard, Heather Alicia Simms, and Arin Arbus in rehearsal for Des Moines Hollis King

Rounding out the creative team are scenic designer Riccardo Hernández (Jagged Little Pill), costume designer Qween Jean (Wedding Band), lighting designer Scott Zielinski, sound designer Mikaal Sulaiman (Macbeth), and choreographer Byron Easley (Slave Play).

The director first explored Des Moines with Johnson in a 2015 TFANA workshop. It originally made its world premiere in 2007 at San Francisco’s Intersection for the Arts, following which it was further developed by Johnson until completing Des Moines 2013.

For tickets and more information, visit

Step Inside the Rehearsal Room for Denis Johnson's Des Moines


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