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NYU Skirball will present the NYC premiere of Tao of Glass, a semi-autobiographical play written and performed by Phelim McDermott with music by Philip Glass, running March 30 – April 8, 2023 at NYU Skirball. Tao of Glass is co-presented with the U.K.’s Improbable theatre company and the Manchester International Festival.

Performer-director Phelim McDermott (Improbable) and composer Philip Glass have worked together on acclaimed opera productions in London, New York, and beyond. Tao of Glass (2019) is their most personal collaboration yet. Inspired by a dream, this NYC theatrical premiere marries ten meditations on life, death and Taoist wisdom with ten pieces of music from Glass, presented by McDermott with an ensemble of musicians and puppeteers. Part part-performance, part-concert, Tao of Glass is a storytelling tapestry, soundtracked by Glass’s mesmerizing music and shot through with Improbable’s trademark theatricality.

Phelim McDermott (Actor and Director), artistic director and co-founder of Improbable. Phelim has directed and performed in plays and operas in Britain, Germany, Spain, the United States and Australia. Previous work in New York includes; (as director) The Hours, Philip Glass’ Satyagraha, Olivier Award-winning Akhnaten, The Enchanted Island and Cosi fan tutte (Metropolitan Opera House); Opening Skinners Box (Lincoln Centre Festival); The Addams Family (Lunt Fontanne Theatre, Broadway) Beauty And The Beast (Abrons Art Centre); (as director and performer) Shockheaded Peter (New Victory Theatre, Little Shubert Theatre); Lifegame (Jane Street Theatre); (as performer) Spirit (New York Theatre Workshop); (as performer and writer) 70 Hill Lane which won OBIE for Outstanding Achievement in Off Broadway Theatre, the 1997 Time Out Award for Best Off West End Production, Best Performance at The Cairo International Theatre for Experimental Theatre and The Manchester Evening News Award for Best Fringe Production. Currently, his production of My Neighbour Totoro is running at the Barbican, London.

Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Philip Glass is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Juilliard School. By 1974, Glass had created a large collection of music for The Philip Glass Ensemble. The period culminated in the landmark opera, Einstein on the Beach. Since Einstein, Glass’s repertoire has grown to include music for opera, dance, theater, orchestra, and film. His scores have received Academy Award nominations (Kundun, The Hours, Notes on a Scandal) and a Golden Globe (The Truman Show). Recent works include Glass’s memoir, ‘Words Without Music’, by Liveright Books, Glass’s first Piano Sonata, opera Circus Days and Nights and Symphony No. 14. Glass received the Praemium Imperiale in 2012, the U.S. National Medal of the Arts from President Barack Obama in 2016, and 41st Kennedy Center Honors in 2018.

Improbable is a world leader in improvisational and emergent practice, a pioneer of Open Space Technology, and has created some of the most acclaimed and ground-breaking theatre and opera from any company over the last 25 years. Led by Artistic Directors Phelim McDermott and Lee Simpson, the heart of their artistic practice is improvisation. Alongside making shows, Improbable engages in activity using applied Improvisation. Recent shows include The Hours (Metropolitan Opera House, NY); Perfect Show For Rachel (created by Zoo Co, Barbican Theatre) and Olivier and Grammy-award winning Akhnaten at Metropolitan Opera House, NY (English National Opera), among many others.

Manchester International Festival (MIF) is an artist focused festival of original, new work and special events reflecting the spectrum of performing arts, visual arts and popular culture, staged every two years in venues across Greater Manchester from theatres, galleries and concert halls to railway depots, churches and car parks. MIF works closely with venues, festivals and other cultural organizations globally, whose financial and creative input helps to make many of these projects possible and ensures that work made at MIF goes on to be seen around the world.


Tao of Glass will play March 30 & 31; April 1, 5, 6, 7, 8 at 7:30 pm, with matiness on April 1, 2, and 8 at 3 pm. Tickets are $75 and can be purchased online, at the box office in person, Wednesday - Friday from 2 pm - 6 pm, or by calling 212.998.4941. NYU Skirball is located at 566 LaGuardia Place at Washington Square, New York, New York 10012. ABOUT NYU SKIRBALL

NYU Skirball is NYC’s home for cutting-edge performance, artistic research, and discourse, holding close to James Baldwin’s dictum that “artists are here to disturb the peace.” NYU Skirball is located in the heart of Greenwich Village, historically a center of resistance, dissent and free thinking. Its programming reflects this history and embraces today’s renegade artists and companies, presenting works that aim to engage, provoke, and inspire audiences. The 800-seat theater, led by Director Jay Wegman, provides a home for internationally renowned artists, innovators, and thinkers and presents ground-breaking events ranging from re-inventions of the classics to cutting-edge premieres, in genres ranging from dance, theater and performance arts to comedy, music and film.

Venue: NYU Skirball

566 LaGuardia Place Map