Sholeh Wolpé and Nassim Soleimanpour will be participating in the upcoming poetry program hosted by The Broad Stage. Courtesy photos.

Covid-19 is still preventing locals from gathering for entertainment purposes, but The Broad Stage and LA-based publisher Red Hen Press are excited to begin season two of the Red Hen Press Poetry Hour this Thursday with award-winning actor and writer Sandra Tsing Loh.

In April, The Broad Stage and Red Hen Press partnered for the first season of Poetry Hour, which gave thousands of people across the world the ability to stream live music and poetry readings from the comfort — and safety — of their homes.

With the national emergency happening right now, “I think that poetry is something that will help people get through it,” Kate Gale, co-founder and Managing Editor of RPH, said at the beginning of the safer-at-home orders. “And I think it’s wonderful The Broad Stage is giving people the opportunity to breathe and remind ourselves that there are still creative and beautiful moments in the world.”

This Thursday, the second season of Red Hen Poetry Hour is set to premiere at 6 p.m. with a program titled, “Finding Truths and Creating Art in Exile.” The show features award-winning playwrights Sholeh Wolpé and Nassim Soleimanpour, according to The Broad Stage’s Director of Artistic Planning Eric Bloom, who said last week that the poetry hour has been revamped to better meet the needs of the public.

“The first season really focused primarily on the poets that Red Hen has access to and every episode that was running weekly at the time included live readings, conversations and some pre-recorded footage,” but as the pandemic stretched into May, there became an overload of online content, Bloom said. “So, we really wanted to think more deeply about what we could put out there to make sure that it was something really unique in the market that could attract people’s attention.”

During the upcoming season, Bloom said, The Broad Stage and Red Hen will now produce one episode a month for the remainder of the year. The two companies also intend to bring in artists who aren’t poets who could speak to the themes and conversations prevalent in the different programs.

The first episode features Nasim Soleimanpour, “who’s an Iranian playwright who couldn’t leave Iran for a long time because he refused military service,” Bloom said, describing how Soleimanpour has found international success from his “White Rabbit, Red Rabbit” theater readings and will talk about finding an identity in exile.

As the season progresses, Soleimanpour and Wolpé will be joined by acclaimed guests as well as award-winning artists like Nathalie Handal, Lory Bedikian and more. “The artists will explore the lives they live—and the lives that people in the West imagine for them,” Bloom added, mentioning Red Hen Press Poetry Hour will continue with readings and a discussion about environmental justice and climate change on Thursday, Aug. 27. And a deep dive into feminism will follow in September.

Each of the upcoming broadcast will be available on The Broad Stage website at thebroadstage.org/athome and on Facebook at facebook.com/thebroadstage, according to organizers. Each program will also be archived following the live stream for on-demand viewing.

brennon@smdp.com