The Michaels Duology

Richard Nelson


This bundle consisting of two books is sold at 20% off the regular price for its individual titles.


Acting Edition — The Michaels

Subtitled CONVERSATIONS DURING DIFFICULT TIMES, THE MICHAELS is Part One of The Michaels duology. The play places the audience directly into the kitchen of Rose Michael, a celebrated choreographer. Dinner is cooked, modern dances are rehearsed, and the meal is eaten — all amidst conversations about art, death, family, dance, politics, the state of America, and how the world sees our country … and a host of everyday questions that make up the richness of ordinary life.

Acting Edition — What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad

Subtitled CONVERSATIONS IN ANGERS, FRANCE, WHAT HAPPENED?: THE MICHAELS ABROAD is Part Two of The Michaels duology. No longer in comfortable Rhinebeck, New York, the Michaels family with deep roots in the world of modern dance, are crawling out from under the deadly pandemic, which has turned life as we knew it upside down. It is now September 8th, 2021, and we find the Michaels in Angers, France, to attend a student dance festival.


With THE MICHAELS and WHAT HAPPENED?: THE MICHAELS ABROAD Richard Nelson brings to a close his twelve play cycle, “The Rhinebeck Panorama,” that includes the Apple Family Plays, the Gabriels, and now the Michaels, charting the courses of three families in Upstate New York over the tumultuous events of the last decade.

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Press Quotes


“THE MICHAELS is as hopeful as it is heartbreaking.” —Ben Brantley, The New York Times

“Nelson builds characters who are rich in spirit and soul and sets them in motion like tops.” —Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker

“Transfixing.” —David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

“A tenderly moving drama about a modern dance choreographer facing mortality, and the effect of this brilliant, challenging woman on the people around her.” —Diane Snyder, Time Out

“In its distinctive way it edges into and out of so many emotional territories and registers; it shows how the epic and the everyday can be close cousins; and how the mundane and shattering can unfold as you wash a glass, or bake a quiche.” —Tim Teeman, Daily Beast

Five Stars. “Dinner is prepared, songs are sung, stories are told, dances are rehearsed, and the meal is eaten — all amidst conversations about art, death, family, dance, politics, how the world sees America … The play portrays a modesty and an enduring faith in the validity of simple human interaction.” —David Walters, New York Theater Guide

Five Stars. “Immensely rewarding.” —Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review

“THE MICHAELS seduces with the details, caught on the fly, of lives well-lived in spite of everything. The play is a balm for troubled spirits.” —David Barbour, L&S America

“Magnificent.” —Christopher Byrne, Gay City News


Critics Pick. “Extraordinary … [Nelson’s] stripped-down dramaturgy asks us to care about character more than story, and to see the largest matters in the smallest details.” —Jesse Green, The New York Times

“In this beautiful capstone work, the sense is not so much a resolution as a dissolving; the characters of WHAT HAPPENED? Have become unmoored, as if the isolation of the pandemic has caused some permanent psychic dislocation.” —Peter Marks, The Washington Post

Five Stars. “WHAT HAPPENED? Shines a fierce light on COVID’s devastating impact …” —Elysa Gardner, New York Stage Review

Five Stars. “Playwright Richard Nelson completes what he calls his Rhinebeck Panorama with WHAT HAPPENED?: THE MICHAELS ABROAD [which] might be the most powerful of them all … As with the other installments in the series, WHAT HAPPENED? Will likely be widely produced …” —Steven Suskin, New York Stage Review

“This is a play about loss, the inevitable changes wrought by time and circumstance, and finding a way to go on, however haltingly. We may never know fully what happened, but we do go on, and sharing this reality with this family — transforming life into art — lets us know that whatever we went through all those months, we were not alone.” —Christopher Byrne, Gay City News

“WHAT HAPPENED?: THE MICHAELS ABROAD [is] something of a socio-document that can and should be studied for years to come by those who want to know what life was like ‘during the pandemic.'” —J K Clarke, Theater Pizzazz

“Each new piece [of Nelson’s series, The Rhinebeck Panorama] has felt like a cool blast of civilization in a world gone mad.” —David Barbour, Lighting Dimensions

About the Author


  • Richard Nelson

    Richard Nelson's plays include the four-play series, THE APPLE FAMILY (THAT HOPEY CHANGEY THING, SWEET AND SAD, SORRY, REGULAR SINGING (Nominated for Outstanding Play in Drama Desk Awards 2014; Public Theater, 2010 – 2013), NIKOLAI AND THE OTHERS (Lincoln Center Theater, 2013), FAREWELL TO THE THEATRE (Hampstead Theatre, 2012), HOW SHAKESPEARE WON THE WEST, (Huntington Theater, 2008), CONVERSATIONS AT TUSCULUM (Public Theater, 2008), FRANK'S HOME (Goodman Chicago, Playwrights Horizons, 2007), RODNEY'S WIFE (Playwrights Horizons, 2004), WHERE I COME FROM (National Theatre Connections), MADAME MELVILLE (which ran in the West End starring Macaulay Culkin and Irene Jacob and opened in May 2001 Off-Broadway); GOODNIGHT CHILDREN EVERYWHERE (winner of Olivier Award for Best New Play, 2000), KENNETH'S FIRST PLAY (with Colin Chambers, RSC), THE GENERAL FROM AMERICA (at the RSC and the Lucille Lortel Theatre, New York), NEW ENGLAND (RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), MISHA'S PARTY (with Alexander Gelman, RSC and Williamstown Theater Festival), TWO SHAKESPEAREAN ACTORS (Tony nomination for Best Play, RSC and Broadway), COLUMBUS AND THE DISCOVERY OF JAPAN (RSC Barbican), SOME AMERICANS ABROAD (Olivier nomination, Best Comedy; RSC, Lincoln Center and Broadway), LEFT, BETWEEN EAST AND WEST (Hampstead), PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORAE (winner of Time Out Award, RSC and Manhattan Theater Club), THE RETURN OF PINOCCHIO, AN AMERICAN COMEDY, BAL, CONJURING AN EVENT, RIP VAN WINKLE, JUNGLE COUP, THE KILLING OF YABLONSKI, THE VIENNA NOTES (Obie Award). His musicals include JAMES JOYCE'S THE DEAD (starring Christopher Walken and Blair Brown; Playwrights Horizons, Belasco Theatre, Broadway, Ahmanson Theatre, Los Angeles, Kennedy Center, Washington; for which he received a Tony Award in 2000 for Best Musical Book), CHESS (the book for the Broadway musical), PARADISE FOUND (dir: Harold Prince and Susan Strohman), MY LIFE WITH ALBERTINE (with Ricky Ian Gordon; Playwrights Horizons), UNFINISHED PIECE FOR A PLAYER PIANO (with Peter Golub). His translations and adaptations include TYNAN starring Corin Redgrave (with Colin Chambers, RSC and West End), LOLITA with Brian Cox (National), Molnar's THE GUARDSMAN (Kennedy Center), Carriere's THE CONTROVERSY (Public Theater), Fo's ACCIDENTAL DEATH OF AN ANARCHIST (Broadway), Strindberg's THE FATHER with Frank Langella (Broadway) and MISS JULIE (Yale Rep), Beaumarchais' THE MARRIAGE OF FIGARO (the Guthrie and Broadway); Molière's DON JUAN, Ibsen's WILD DUCK and ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE, Pirandello's ENRICO IV, Goldoni's IL CAMPIELLO, Erdmann's THE SUICIDE. With the esteemed translators Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky, he was co-translated Chekhov's THE CHERRY ORCHARD, Gogol's THE INSPECTOR, Turgenev's A MONTH IN THE COUNTRY and Bulgakov's DON QUIXOTE. Films: Hyde Park on Hudson, staring Bill Murray and Laura Linney (Dir: Roger Michell), Ethan Frome, starring Liam Neeson (Dir: John Madden); Sensibility and Sense, staring Elaine Stritch and Jean Simmons (Dir: David Jones). Television: The End of a Sentence with Edward Herrmann (Dir: David Jones). Radio Plays include: HYDE PARK ON HUDSON, LANGUAGES SPOKEN HERE (Giles Cooper Award), EATING WORDS (Giles Cooper Award), ADVICE TO EASTERN EUROPE, AN AMERICAN WIFE (all BBC).