FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE December 16, 2001
A NEW VERSION OF “UNCLE TOM’S CABIN” ARRIVES FOR BLACK HISTORY MONTH AT SACRED FOOLS WITH PRIZE-WINNING ACTRESS
The full title of the next mainstage attraction at the Sacred Fools Theater is: The Drama Dept.’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Or, The Preservation Of Favoured Races In The Struggle For Life. In its West Coast Premiere, Uncle Tom’s Cabin will be presented as a production of the Sacred Fools Theater Company as a special attraction for Black History Month, scheduled to run from January 31- February 23, 2002.
The show devised by Floraine Kay and Randolph Curtis Rand in 1997 for New York’s celebrated Drama Department and now included in the Lincoln Center Archives created something of a sensation when first produced.
This new version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin uses Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel as a launching point for a probing, searing examination of the epoch of slavery and what came after, and how those subsequent events and attitudes influenced race relations in America across the decades until the present day.
The script notes that it is “based on the works of Harriet Beecher Stowe and others” and those “others” whose words or ideas are included encompass a variety of historical figures or historians, among them James Baldwin, e.e. cummings, Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. DuBois, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Thomas Edison, Gustave Flaubert, Julius Lester, Kenneth Rexroth, George Sand, Oscar Wilde, Henry Louis Gates Jr., and Charles Darwin.
The manuscript describes the show as “a theme and variations in 2 acts, 17 scenes, 7 narratives, 1 burlesque, and 1 combat.” The new play retains the basic plot elements of Stowe’s novel . It is still the story of the kindly slave sustained by faith while tested by vicious cruelty. Stowe, a radical in her own time, is viewed from a perspective at the end of the 20th Century as being not entirely progressive.
Rarely has race relations as a subject been tackled so directly and intently on the American stage. Uncle Tom’s Cabin is by turns thoughtful, moving, savage, funny, and never less than compelling theatre.
The Sacred Fools Theater Company won five NAACP Theater Awards for its 2000 production “2G’s,” a hip-hop adaptation of Two Gentlemen Of Verona that retained Shakespeare’s texts and cast several African-Americans in leading roles.
Alexander Yannis Stephano directs “Uncle Tom’s Cabin. His previous directing credits include Want’s Unwished Work, Or A Birthday Play (the all-time box-office champ at Sacred Fools), “Icarus And Aria,” co-directed “Grimm!” and “Tongue-Tied Tales” (all at Sacred Fools), and at the Powerhouse, the hit comedy Venus Attacks!
In summer 2002, he will direct a new Theresa Rebeck play for Chautauqua Theatre Alliance.
Allen Lulu produces for Sacred Fools. He previously produced Want’s Unwished Work…” and Icarus And Aria. He starred in the Sacred Fools production of Dead Lawyers. On Uncle Tom’s Cabin, his co-producers are Stephano and Peter Mattsson.
Casting is non-traditional to the nth degree, with blacks playing whites, whites playing blacks , whites playing whites, blacks playing blacks, males playing females, females playing males, males playing males, females playing females, and actors playing multiple roles. The cast includes Carolyn Hennesy, current recipient of the Natalie Schafer Award, given by the L.A. Drama Critics Circle to an “emerging comic actress”;
Yvans Jourdain , memorable in the Robey Theatre Company’s For The Love Of Freedom: Toussaint; two-time L.A. Weekly Award winner Stan Freitag recently in the casts of The Master And Margarita and The Tempest; Edgar Allan Poe IV, also recently in the Pasadena Shakespeare Company’s The Tempest.; Jon Huertas, a star- ring regular on the tv series “Moesha” and currently, “Sabrina The Teenage Witch”; J. Karen Thomas (loads of episodic tv and Shakespeare this year with Foliage Theatre Company); and Fred Shahadi.
Lighting design: Aaron Francis. Set design: Aaron Francis and Jay Harik. Sound design: Jason H. Tuttle. Costume design :Jana Hill. Choreography: Donna Perkins-Mooney. Production stage managers: Aaron Francis and Karimah Tennyson.
The new version of Uncle Tom’s Cabin has its West Coast debut exactly 150 years after the original stage version of the story, which quickly followed the first publication of the book. This new Uncle Tom’s Cabin will not be quite like anything Los Angeles has seen before.
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WHAT: “Uncle Tom’s Cabin.” (Full title: “The Drama Dept.’s
Uncle Tom’s Cabin; Or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the
Struggle For Life”)
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