On Saturday, April 13th at 2:00pm Theater J and The Phillips Collection will present a staged reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS. Directed by Shirley Serotsky with dramaturgy by Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zoe, the reading will feature Peter Birkenhead, Edward Christian, Sarah Douglas, Crashonda Edwards, Lolita-Marie, Julian Elijah Martinez, Colin Smith, and David Lamont Wilson and will be followed by a post show discussion.
Set at Virginia’s Hampton University during World War II, THE HAMPTON YEARS explores the development of African American artists John Biggers and Samella Lewis under the tutelage of Austrian Jewish refugee painter and educator Viktor Lowenfeld.
Here is your opportunity to be part of the artistic process, by attending a reading of a new play in development that will have its world premiere at Theater J on May 29. The Phillips Collection's Director of Communication, Ann Greer joins director Shirley Serotsky, dramaturg Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zoe, and myself for a post-show discussion following the performance.
The Phillips Collection is located at 1600 21st Street, NW Washington, DC 20009. Tickets to the reading will be included with the cost of museum admission. Click here to learn more and here for directions.
Meet the Artistic Team
JACQUELINE E. LAWTON received her MFA from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. Her plays include Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil’s Sweet Water;The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius; Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention; Love Brothers Serenade, Mad Breed and Our Man Beverly Snow. She has received commissions from Active Cultures Theater, Discovery Theater, National Portrait Gallery, National Museum of American History, Round House Theatre and Theater J. Her play, Cinder Blocks, was published in Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project (University of Texas Press). A 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color, she has been nominated for the Wendy Wasserstein Prize and a PONY Fellowship from the Lark New Play Development Center. In 2012, she was named one of 30 of the nation's leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. She resides in Washington, D.C. and is a proud member of the Dramatist Guild of America.
SHIRLEY SEROTSKY (Director) is the Associate Artistic Director at Theater J, where she directed the 2010 production of Mikveh, the 2009 production of The Rise and Fall of Annie Hall (which received a 2009 Helen Hayes Nomination for Best New Play), and the 2011 production of The History of Invulnerability. She began her theater education as a performance major in the musical theater program at the University of Michigan, but soon detoured into directing which she studied at the North Carolina School of the Arts. After graduation she moved to New York, where she worked at the Women’s Project and Productions; interned for the Cherry Lane Theater; and was employed as an editorial assistant for a Jewish organization. In August 2001 she moved to Washington, DC to fulfill a nine-month Kenan Fellowship at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Arts. There she worked as an assistant director and dramaturg on several productions. Since 2002 she has worked as a freelance director and dramaturg in the Washington, DC area and beyond, directing for the Source Festival, Theater Alliance, Catalyst Theater, Rorschach Theater, Catholic University, the National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Journeymen Theater, and on several out-of-town productions, including at the Humana Festival of New Plays at Actors Theater of Louisville. She has taught young people and adults at The Actor’s Center, the Musical Theater Center, and Theater Lab. She co-founded Bouncing Ball Theatrical Productions with Shawn Northrip (which aims to develop and produce new and innovative musical theater works). Training: BFA, North Carolina School of the Arts. Member of The 2002 Designer/Director Workshop with Ming Cho Lee and the 2003 Lincoln Center Director's Lab.
OTIS CORTEZ RAMSEY-ZOE (Dramaturg) is a Lecturer of Theatre Arts at Howard University, Future Classics Program Coordinator at The Classical Theatre of Harlem, Series Editor for NoPassport Press’s Dreaming the Americas Series, a freelance dramaturg, and a Company Member of banished? productions. He has developed new works with such organizations as The Sundance Institute, Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, Centerstage and Black Women Playwrights’ Group and by such writers as Colman Domingo, Tarell McCraney, Noah Haidle, Kirsten Greenidge and Tim Acito. He has directed readings including Jacqueline E. Lawton’s The Hampton Years and Blood-bound and Tongue-tied, James Webb’s The Contract and David Emerson Toney’s Kingdom. Previously, he was Literary Manager and First Look Coordinator at Centerstage and an Allen Lee Hughes Dramaturgy and Literary Senior Fellow at Arena Stage. Mr. Ramsey-Zöe holds degrees from New York University and the University of Notre Dame.
Meet the Cast
PETER BIRKENHEAD (Viktor Lowenfeld) was last seen on stage at Theater J in Mamet’s Speed the Plow. As a writer, Peter is a regular contributor to Salon.com, where he does cultural criticism, and has been published in GQ Magazine, HoBo Magazine, Marie Claire, The Chicago Tribune , and The Los Angeles Times, among other publications. His play Gonville was performed at Ensemble Studio Theater in New York, Theater J in Washington D.C., and Theater 150 in Ojai, Ca. As an actor, his credits include: Broadway: Brighton Beach Memoirs, Broadway Bound, and Laughter on the 23rd Floor. National Tours: Brighton Beach Memoir, Biloxi Blues, Broadway Bound and Angels in America. Off Broadway: The Motel Plays and Love; Yearning, Driving Lessons Regional Theater The Substance of Fire (Dallas Theater Center); The Real Thing (Stage West); A Christmas Carol (McCarter Theater); Prelude to a Kiss (Philadelphia Theater Co.); Ghosts (Portland Stage); Only Kidding; Conversations With My Father (Cleveland Playhouse); Oh, The Innocents; The Closer; What is Art?; Barbecue in 29 Palms; (GeVa Theater) The Not-For-Profits (Ojai Playwright’s Conference) Television: “House;” “NCIS;” “Gray’s Anatomy;” “Crossing Jordan;” “Six Feet Under;” “The West Wing;” “The Guardian;” “ER;” “Judging Amy;” “Jesse;” “Ally McBeal;” “NYPD Blue;” “Law and Order;” “You’re The One;” “Becker;” “Brooklyn South;” “Chicago Hope;” “Family Law;” “Profiler” and “Murder One.”
EDWARD CHRISTIAN (President Bridgman and New York Art Critic) recently appeared in the Folger Theatre's The Taming of the Shrew. Other regional credits include Forum Theatre: The Language Archive. He's also performed extensively with Perseverance Theatre: This Wonderful Life, Doubt, How I Learned To Drive, Hamlet, The Tempest, Macbeth, The Laramie Project, Twelfth Night, Much Ado About Nothing, A Streetcar Named Desire, Hedda Gabler, The Cherry Orchard, The People’s Temple, Equus, The Crucible, The Waiting Room, The Rocky Horror Show, Blithe Spirit, and As You Like It. Upcoming productions include: Henry V at Folger Theatre and The Hampton Years at Theater J. www.edwardchristian.com
SARAH DOUGLAS (Margaret Lowenfeld) is an actress, teaching artist, and therapeutic theatre facilitator. She received her MFA from The American Repertory Theatre/Moscow Art Theatre School’s Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University. In New York City, she was a lead artist and the Artistic Producer of The Mud/Bone Collective theatre company, and developed Impossible Country, a performance project that focused on the under-told stories of an asylum seekers currently living in New York City. Her credits include: The Public Theatre, Walkerspace, Studio 54, The Ontological theatre, The Vineyard Theatre, University Settlement, Studio 889, and Theatre Trouve. Following her recent move to the DC area, Sarah played the role of Lydia in the Hub Theatre’s production of Big Love. She is delighted to be a part of the world premier of The Hampton Years, at Theatre J.
CRASHONDA EDWARDS (Samella Lewis) most recently appeared as Castabella in The Atheist Tragedy and Marianna in All’s Well that End’s Well at the Shakespeare Theatre Company and George Washington University’s Academy for Classical Acting program’s repertory showcase. At the age of 17, she was accepted to the prestigious North Carolina School of the Arts high school. Upon graduation, she pursued a BFA at Savannah College of Art and Design and during the summer studied at the New York Theatre Intensive. Following graduation, she went on to pursue her MFA at Shakespeare Theatre Company and George Washington University’s Academy for Classical Acting program. With an abundance of talent, drive, faith and skill, the next chapter of her life is sure to inspire.
LOLITA-MARIE (Elizabeth Catlett) There is only sweet nostalgic joy in being a part of The Hampton Years. Lolita-Marie was born and raised in the Hampton Roads area. Her son Brandon, along with many family and friends are proud to have been a part of the Hampton University collegiate family over the years. Recent acting credits include: Hard Bargain Players: Hoodoo Love, The Colonial Players: Going to St. Ives, Constellation Theater: Blood Wedding, Elden Street Players: Ain’t Misbehavin, Port City Playhouse: No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, andTheater J: Something You Did. For a full resume please visit www.lolitamarie.com.
JULIAN ELIJAH MARTINEZ (John Biggers) is a teaching artist based in Washington DC and a graduate of Elon University. DC Credits include: Locomotion (John F. Kennedy Center); Jekyll and Hyde (Synetic Theater Company); Romeo and Juliet, Pride and Prejudice, Cymbeline, and A Midsummer Nights Dream (Chesapeake Shakespeare Company); and Lyme Park (the Hegria). Regional Credits include: Hamlet and All's Well That Ends Well (Orlando Shakespeare Theater) and Man of La Mancha (Hangar Theater). Elijah would like to thank Theater J for the opportunity to play and perform with them, and is infinitely proud of this amazing cast. julianelijahmartinez.com
COLIN SMITH (President Malcolm McLean and Southern Admiral) has appeared at Theatre J as the understudy for Crick in Photograph51. He is a company member with Keegan Theatre where his acting credits include: August Osage County (Bill), Spring Awakening (Swing), Twelve Angry Men (Juror 8), The Crucible (Reverend Paris; Ireland/US), Noises Off (Tim), The Graduate (Mr. Robinson), Dancing at Lughnasa (Michael), Translations (Manus; Helen Hayes nomination-outstanding ensemble), Glengarry Glen Ross (Williamson; Ireland/US) and others. Other D.C. credits include productions with The Washington Shakespeare Company, Forum Theatre, American Century Theatre, Charter Theatre and Journeyman Theatre. His directing credits include Laughter on the 23rd Floor (Keegan Theatre) and Fool for Love (Keegan Theatre; Ireland/US). Colin is a graduate of St. John’s College, The National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts and The Actors Repertory Theatre.
DAVID LAMONT WILSON (Charles White) is thrilled to have the privilege of working on this exciting new work by Jacqueline Lawton. Mr. Wilson was last seen performing Factory 449’s Washington premier of “The Saint Plays” and “All That Glitters” for Restoration Stage. Favorite productions include roles in the critically acclaimed Charter Theatre production of “Am I Black Enough Yet?”, “The Oedipus Plays” at The Shakespeare Theatre, “Heaven” and “Big Love” for the Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company, “American Buffalo”, “Inns & Outs” and “Edmond” at Source Theatre; “Invisible Disability” and “The Boy Who Walked Backwards” at the Kennedy Center; and the European Tours of “The Cutting Edge” for Imagination Stage and “Julie” for Scena Theatre. His resume also includes productions at Arena Stage, Olney Theatre, and the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, as well as a featured role on NBC's award winning Homicide: Life On the Streets and HBO's The Wire. He is currently shooting the new independent film “Flesh To Flesh” by Lee Hayes, and can be seen later this season in “The Saint Plays” for Factory 449. David would like to thank Daniel Wallace for bringing additional sunshine into his existence!
The Phillips Collection is an "intimate museum combined with an experiment station."–Duncan Phillips, 1926.
The Phillips Collection is an exceptional collection of modern and contemporary art in a dynamic environment for collaboration, innovation, engagement with the world, scholarship, and new forms of public participation.
I'm a playwright, dramaturg, and teaching artist. It is here where you'll find my queries and musings on life, theater and the world. My posts advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equity in the American Theatre and updates on my own work. Please enjoy!