Posts tagged with "Center Theatre Group"

Black Out Photo via Allied Global Marketing for use by 360 Magazine

Blues for an Alabama Sky Performance

Center Theatre Group hosted its popular Black Out Night Performance for Blues for an Alabama Sky on Friday, April 8, 2022, at the Mark Taper Forum. Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson began the sold-out night with a pre-show address welcoming the audience into the theatre for this special performance of “Blues for an Alabama Sky” intended for Black theatregoers. Robinson, during the welcome, gave flowers to Pearl Cleage and director Phylicia Rashad for their continued excellence in the arts and for giving voice to cultural yet universal stories. Guests in attendance included: Susan Kelechi-Watson, Geffri Maya, Patrick Walker, Larry Powell and other notables.

The performance was followed by a reception on the Music Center Plaza featuring live music. Sip & Sonder provided coffee and Gwen’s Bakery provided desserts.

This revival of Pearl Cleage’s rich and beautiful work runs at the Mark Taper Forum from April 6 through May 8, 2022, with the opening night set for Wednesday, April 13, 2022. 

Tony Award-winning actress Phylicia Rashad, who originated the role of Angel in the world premiere of “Blues for an Alabama Sky” more than 25 years ago returns to direct this timeless piece that was first presented in 1995 at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre. She leads a cast that features Joe Holt, Nija Okoro, Dennis Pearson, Greg Alverez Reid and Kim Steele.

Set in 1930’s Harlem, Angel is a free-spirited Cotton Club singer who’s out of luck but never out of dreams. Guy is a costume designer waiting for Josephine Baker to invite him to join her in Paris. Delia, a young activist, is trying to give the women of Harlem a choice about their future. Sam, a prominent physician, is either delivering babies or out at the club letting the good times roll. And Leland, who recently arrived in Harlem from Alabama, is haunted by the wide-open skies and the lost love he left behind. The lives and dreams of these men and women converge with passion and politics as the art and celebration of the Harlem Renaissance give way to the harsh realities of the Great Depression. 

Tickets for all other performances of Blues for an Alabama Sky are currently on sale at Center Theatre Group/Mark Taper Forum. They are also available through their website. Performances run Tuesday through Friday at 8 PM, Saturday at 2:30 PM and 8 PM, Sunday at 1 PM and 6:30 PM Call for exceptions. Center Theatre Group’s first Black Out Night was created in February of 2022 for Jeremy O. HarrisSlave Play and was based on the event he created in 2019 during the Broadway engagement to provide a freeing environment for Black-identifying audience members to experience the unflinching new work free from the white gaze.

Slave Play

Slave Play

By Krish Narsinghani

As of late, 360 Magazine joined Center Theatre Group’s grand post-pandemic reopening of LA’s Mark Taper Forum. What better way to kickoff the return of the arts than with the highly acclaimed drama, Slave Play. Featuring moments of explicit content, the play has sparked controversy amongst the theater community. The diverse seven hundred or so person crowd watched as the playwright, Jeremy O. Harris, primed the show sharing how he started his journey in LA as an actor, and how his first finished work at Yale is currently being watched across the nation. This Broadway hit has planted itself in Downtown Los Angeles and is here to stay, stirring heads in the entertainment space as the city continues to expand in theatricals.

Guests experiencing the play for the first time were quickly drawn in with the opening scene set on a plantation field. To have a thickening plot is an understatement. Slave Play is a must-watch for everyone of all colors and backgrounds. A perfect release during Black History Month, this art can be used for pleasure or as an educational tool to celebrate and learn about ones Blackness in a relationship. Overall, the acting and curves in the storyline had the crowd at the edge of their seat and left us in awe. The minimal stage production and use of lighting surprisingly didn’t hinder the story and allowed the acting to shine through. The intimate theater actually improved the atmosphere where attendees could better hear and witness the grit and raw emotions of the leads, Antoinette Crowe-Legacy and Paul Alexander Nolan, without the need for traditional smoke and mirrors. The two played an interracial couple that expressed a wife’s frustration with viewpoints I’d never heard. The profanity did make me feel uncomfortable at times, but it’s needed to fully encapsulate one within the character conflict plus it pushes the script to feel more alive. It’s interesting how subtle some of the dialogue is between characters and still have fans pondering days later. The play is already a hot topic of pop culture conversations amongst Angelenos and it’s only the beginning.

A handful of celebrities attended the opening night including Tracee Ellis Ross, Mara Brock Akil, Wendy Raquel Robinson, Logan Browning, Ashley Blaine Featherson, Samira Wiley, Ashley Park, Sofia Boutella, Patrick Fabian, Wade Allain-Marcus and Malia Obama. The evening finished with a standing ovation and a toast with the Taper team. Slave Play is refreshing in taste and is highly recommended to anyone who enjoys progressive media in general.

More About Slave Play

It’s the most Tony Award®-nominated play in history. It stunned off-Broadway. Then it shocked Broadway. Now, Jeremy O. Harris, “a major new voice in the American theater” (Chicago Tribune), brings his “raw, revelatory, and revolutionary play” (The Daily Beast) to the Taper, in the same production that roiled New York. Directed by two-time NAACP and Obie Award® winner Robert O’Hara, Slave Play is “one of the best and most provocative new works to show up in years” (The New York Times).

At the MacGregor Plantation, nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems. It’s an antebellum fever-dream as three interracial couples converge to rip open history at the intersection of race, love, and sexuality in 21st-century America. It’s a world where the sex is as raw as the emotions, and the twists as salacious as the truth. Don’t dare shy away from this production that “reimagines the possibilities of what theatre can give us” (The New York Times).

About Jeremy O. Harris

Full-length plays include: Slave Play (Broadway, New York Theatre Workshop, NYT Critics Pick, Winner of the 2018 Kennedy Center Rosa Parks Playwriting Award, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and The Lotos Foundation Prize in the Arts and Sciences), DADDY (Vineyard Theatre/The New Group, Almeida Theatre). In 2018, Jeremy co-wrote A24’s film Zola with director Janicza Bravo. He is the 11th recipient of the Vineyard Theatre’s Paula Vogel Playwrighting Award, a 2016 MacDowell Colony Fellow, an Orchard Project Greenhouse artist, a resident playwright with Colt Coeur, and is under commission from Lincoln Center Theater and Playwrights Horizons. Jeremy is a graduate of the Yale MFA Playwrighting Program. Jeremy is currently developing a pilot with A24 for HBO.

For info on tickets to the Slave Play, head to the Center Theatre Group’s website.

Slave Play Actors
Photo credit: Ryan Miller/Capture Imaging
Slave Play Actors Opening Night
Photo credit: Craig Schwartz Photography