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Qween Jean

Des Moines

December 20, 2022

Michael Shannon, Hari Nef, Heather Alicia Simms, Arliss Howard and Johanna Day in a scene from [more]

HOUND DOG

October 30, 2022

Director Machel Ross does little to guide this play to any semblance of cohesion.  Scenes 1 and 13, between Hound Dog and Ayse, her childhood best friend, begin with the exact same lines and stage blocking up to a point…so, did one scene happen and the other one not happen? Which is the real scene?  Scene 6, between Hound Dog and Yusuf, the neighborhood trash collector and best friend to Hound Dog’s father Baba, happened three days after their meeting in Scene 4, or is it, as Hound Dog perceives, only yesterday? [more]

Wedding Band

May 9, 2022

Alice Childress’ "Wedding Band," which is a difficult play to stage due to its shifts in tone, is a major rediscovery. However, it straddles a thin line between realism and romance and its poetry needs to be handled very carefully. Unlike the tamer "Trouble in Mind," "Wedding Band" has a very strong message and a good deal to say about racism in American in telling its sensitive interracial love story about a time when it was a love that dared not speak its name. While this production makes some problematic choices, the time has certainly arrived for this play to be returned to the American stage. [more]

On Sugarland

March 8, 2022

Aleshea Harris’ third New York stage play following her form-bending "Is God Is" and "What to Send Up When It Goes Down" is epic in all senses of the word: it includes poetry, dance, incantation, comedy and drama. The new play "On Sugarland," an anti-war drama, also harks back to the Greeks, borrowing characters from Sophocles’ "Philoctetes" and Euripides’ "The Trojan Women," as well as the concept of the Chorus. It tells three interwoven stories as well as one communal one and ends with a shocking finale that is the hallmark of Greek tragedy. Director Whitney White’s production with its cast of 14 is quite versatile and lives up to its lofty task. [more]

Black No More

February 19, 2022

"Black No More," the new musical inspired by George S. Schuyler’s 1931 Afrofuturist novel, is the most exciting and inventive new show to be seen so far this season in New York though it is still in need of work. With a book by Academy Award-winning screenwriter John Ridley (12 Years a Slave), the stage version drops Schuyler’s scathing satire of Harlem Renaissance and Depression figures as well as its political election hijinks for a more direct story about race and racism in the United States. As brilliantly staged by Scott Elliott for The New Group, Black No More is also a play of ideas and will keep you thinking and debating long after the final curtain in this story of the sacrifices people have to make to change the world. [more]

Semblance

August 18, 2021

Written and directed by White who is the Obie and Lily Award winning director of "Our Dear Dead Drug Lord" (WP Theater) and "What to Send Up When It Goes Down" (Public Theater, BAM Fisher and Playwrights Horizons), a NYTW Usual Suspect and former NYTW 2050 Fellow, among other impressive credits, "Semblance" asks the question: in your everyday life, how do you encounter Black women? What do you see and what do you assume? Nikiya Mathis plays seven women from all walks of life, six of them depicted in various jobs and careers and each in her own setting. The women address us directly: a line worker in a salad take-out restaurant, a nanny and caretaker with her charge in Prospect Park, a chart-topping artist preparing for a music video, an unemployed mother getting her nails done in a salon, a public figure such as a politician about to be interviewed on a news program, a bus driver on her run on an MTA bus, a medium to low level consultant in an office, and finally the actress herself as she removes her makeup. [more]