What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad

Richard Nelson
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THE MICHAELS and WHAT HAPPENED?: THE MICHAELS ABROAD may be purchased as a bundle at 20% off the regular price: THE MICHAELS DUOLOGY


Subtitled CONVERSATIONS IN ANGERS, FRANCE, this play 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.

Production Info

Cast: 7 total (6 female, 1 male)
Full Length Drama (about 120 minutes)
Multiple Sets
Contemporary Costumes

Press Quotes

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).

About the Book

Book Information

Publisher BPPI
Publication Date 12/8/2021
Pages 92
ISBN 9780881459159

Special Notes

Special Notes

Licensees are required to include the original stage producers credits in the following form on the title page in all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play and in all advertising in which the full cast appears in size of type not less than ten percent (10%) of the size of the title of the Play:
The following must appear within all programs distributed in connection with performances of the Play:
What Happened?: The Michaels Abroad is produced
by special arrangement with Broadway Play Publishing Inc, NYC