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A Note From Mark Russell


This year’s festival is different. Most of it exists online in the virtual world (though there is that phone call….). It starts early and it ends as late as you wish. Best of all, it’s free.

At its core, Under the Radar has always been about presence, shared moments, and connections between strangers. There are four shows in which the audience must show up on time – even though the theater is now your computer or your phone. Four shows can be streamed on-demand, but these too ask for your attention. They are not works to be played while answering email. See them with friends (Under the Radar virtual viewing party?) and take part in the many talk-back moments woven into this year’s Festival.

Under the Radar is always about constant reinvention, and now everyone has been forced to reinvent what they do in order to adjust to the challenges at hand. For theater-makers, suddenly without a stage or an audience, this time asks a very existential question – how does something so analog as theater fit into this new world? The artists in Under the Radar ‘21 drilled down into what makes their work unique and necessary and then translated it to new platforms. They made works ringing with immediacy, shaped by what we are all going through now. 

We worked hard to keep Under the Radar ‘21 an international festival, and I am thankful that our artists in Chile and England are with us, at least online. The challenges facing cultural exchange is not limited to the pandemic, it includes the tightening reactionary world trying to suffocate alternative voices, combined with a climate crisis growing more threatening every day. Under the Radar began as an answer to an isolationist government in 2005, trying to connect voices, not always heard on American stages, from communities not always invited. We continue to follow this path with both international and American artists.

Today, we look at our screens and imagine a festival. Just as the Under the Radar '21 artists imagined their own worlds and bring them to life, we join them in their creation to make these performances whole. This year the festival comes to you, if you are ready to meet it.

Thanks for being a part of the Under the Radar Festival. This year every audience member means so much more to us, we are only doing it for your eyes and ears, and your voice. Each click means someone out there is present with us. A community invested in the power of art and innovation, in the pursuit of essential truths. We are not alone. 

On behalf of the Under the Radar Team at the Public and all of the people who make Under the Radar happen, thank you and welcome.