On Monday, June 17 at 6:30pm, Shirley Serotsky and I will be participating in a Footlights Discussion on The Hampton Years. Each month, 35-50 Footlights members meet over dinner with playwrights, directors, and scholars to discuss modern drama. I first spoke with them back in February of 2009, when I was dramaturg for the Round House Theatre's production of Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice. Later, many of them attended the workshop production of Anna K, which was also directed by Shirley Serotsky and presented as part of Round House's Silver Spring Series.
Department. It tells him his entire family back in Europe is dead, murdered in the Holocaust. One of his colleagues, Charles White, an African-American painter, expresses his horror and sorrow and asks, “Is there anything I can do?”
“No,” Viktor replies. “You all, you deal with so much, but you can’t know what this means. You’re forced to live in a segregated world. You have to ride in separate train cars and sit at the back of the bus. But with all this, they’re not burning you in ovens.”
The mass organized killing of the Holocaust and the mass organized segregation of the U.S. shape the attitudes and the characters of The Hampton Years, which is set at Hampton Institute just before and during World War II, a time when the U.S., even the North, was still shackled with segregation. It tells of two groups – African-Americans and Jews – trying to adjust to and learn from each others’ pain. But it also raises other fascinating questions:
The Footlights discussion of these topics and more will take place Monday, June 17 at Alfio’s, 4515 Willard Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD, on the ground floor of the Willoughby Apartments in Friendship Heights, a short walk from the north entrance of the Friendship Heights Metro station. Street parking is limited but valet parking is free at Alfio’s, if you drive.
Dinner is at 6:30 and the discussion begins at 7:30 and ends at 9. Cost for dinner is just $13, and that includes tax and tip. You will get a salad, bread, choice among six entrees, ice cream, and tea or coffee. Cash or check – no credit cards, please. Beer, wine, and cocktails are available from the bar. You may come for the discussion only if you wish. We appreciate a $5 contribution to Footlights.
Make your reservations with Phyllis Bodin 301-986-1768 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Reservations and cancellations will be accepted until noon of the day of the discussion.
Read The Hampton Years: For those reserving for the dinner-discussion, electronic copies of the draft script are available. Copyright restrictions apply. The document is for distribution only to those attending the discussion. Contact Robin Larkin,email@example.com or 240-669-6300.
See The Hampton Years: In performance through June 30 at Theater J. Footlights members may receive a 20% discount off the ticket price for any performance by using the code FOOTLIGHTS. For more information, visit www.theaterj.org or call (800) 494-TIXS.
Last year, I left the TCG Conference feeling empowered, rejuvenated and inspired. I wanted to be an agent of change and a resource to my community. With my blog, I created a platform to call attention to the need for gender and racial parity in the American Theatre, and to champion the work of local theatre artists. More folks than I ever imagined possible participated in a wide range of blog series and features. I'm so appreciative of them for sharing their experiences, challenges and hopes for the future.
This year's conference ended three days ago. It was five rigorous, powerful, challenging and uplifting days. I had more roles this year: Young Leader of Color, Online Conference Curator for the Diversity and Inclusion Arc and a Texas raised, D.C. based woman playwright of color, who had just opened a play. This, all of this wonder, joy and responsibility, had me working on all cylinders.
On the other side of it all, I feel charged, ready and awake. I feel disrupted. I want to write. I want to take great risk. I want to create even more space for others. I have a deeper understanding of the infrastructure working against change in the American Theatre. This is at once frightening, sad and enlightening, but it also opens up room for empathy. And it is here, in this place of deep reflection and compassion, that change can happen.
I love the theatre. There is a place for me here. There is a place for you here. The work we do is essential to the health, growth and vitality of ever-growing, ever-changing society. We create experiences that inform, entertain, document, hold accountable and sustain hope. We are community builders. We have the potential to ignite a revolution. With such potential for greatness, why not lead the change!
Theater J's Beyond the Stage community engagement events offer an array of innovative public discussion forums and outreach programs which explore the theatrical, psychological and social elements of each production. Partnering with civic leaders and members of other faiths, organizations and communities, each discussion stresses the importance of interchange among a great variety of people wishing to take part in frank, humane conversations about conflict and culture.
Having attended quite a few in my seven years here, I can tell you they are lively, enriching and powerful. They have quite an impressive line-up for The Hampton Years that you'll want to be sure to check out.
Sunday, June 2 at 9:45pm- A Conversation with John and David Lowenfeld: The Lowenfeld Legacy
Sunday, June 9 at 5:15pm – The Rosenwald Schools/The Julius Rosenwald Legacy
Wednesday, June 12 at 9:45pm - The Art and Artists of Pre-War Vienna
Sunday, June 16 at 5:15pm - Race and Representation: The African-American Artist in the World
Tuesday, June 18 at 6:30pm - Blacks and Jews: Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges: An Evening to Benefit Operation Understanding DC at the Maret School
Thursday, June 20 at 9:45pm – Conversation with the Cast of The Hampton Years
Saturday, June 22 at 10:15pm - The Creative Process: A conversation with Dramaturg Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zöe and Artistic Director Ari Roth
Sunday, June 23 at 5:15pm - A Lasting Legacy: The Past, Present and Future of HBCUs
Wednesday, June 26 at 9:45pm - A Conversation with Filmmaker Aviva Kempner and Artistic Director Ari Roth
Sunday, June 30 – Blacks and Jews in the 1940s/Swastika to Jim Crow
Today at 3:00pm, I'll be moderating a conversation on Gender Parity in American Theatre as part of The Hub Theatre's Play Fest.
While female theatre artists make up over 50% of those involved in the theatre, why are so few female playwrights being produced? Why are so few female directors helming shows?
Going beyond the numbers, which we know are dismal, this conversation will address gender bias in the media and work to demystify why plays written by men are for everyone and are more likely to be produced, while plays written by women are see as only for women and are more likely to be developed. What's more, we'll feature next step approaches for playwrights to learn how to market their work and establish relationships with directors and theatre companies. With this in-depth, honest and passionate conversation, we hope to identity the impulses that lead to gender inequity in the theatre and work to construct a better, diverse and more inclusive vision for the future.
Panelists include Eleanor Holdridge (Freelance Director, Catholic University Head of MFA Directing Programs), Michael Dove (Artistic Director, Forum Theatre), and Helen Pafumi (Playwright and Artistic Director, The Hub Theatre).
The discussion is free, but seating is limited. Click here to reserve a ticket!
Meet the Moderator
Jacqueline E. Lawton was named one of 30 of the nation's leading black playwrights by Arena Stage’s American Voices New Play Institute. 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 (2013 semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference), Mad Breed, and Our Man Beverly Snow. Lawton’s work has been developed and presented at the following venues: Active Cultures, Classical Theater of Harlem, Folger Shakespeare Library, theHegira, Howard University, Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, Rorschach Theater Company, Savannah Black Heritage Festival (Armstrong Atlantic State University), Shakespeare Theatre Company, Source Theatre Festival, Theater J, and Woolly Mammoth Theater Company. She is published in Experiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project (University of Texas Press). Ms. Lawton received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She is a 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color award recipient and a National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright Alumna. She has been recognized as a semi-finalist for the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center’s National Playwrights Conference and the Playwright's Center PlayLabs, and as a SheWrites Festival finalist. A member of Arena Stage's Playwright's Arena and the Dramatist Guild of America, Ms. Lawton currently resides in Washington, D.C.
Meet the Panelists
Michael Dove is the Artistic Director of Forum Theatre where he has produced 23 productions, garnering 9 Helen Hayes Award nominations. For Forum, Michael has directed Holly Down in Heaven (World Premiere), Church, Mad Forest, Scorched, Angels in America: Perestroika, Amazons and Their Men (co-directed with Elissa Goetschius), dark play or stories for boys, Marat/Sade, Antigone, Valparaiso, Rockaby and Rough for Radio (for the DC Beckett Centenary Festival), The Memorandum, Hamletmachine, and BECKETT: The Shorter Plays. His other credits include Side Man at 1st Stage, A View From the Bridge at Cape Fear Regional Theater; La Corbière at Solas Nua (co-directed with Linda Murray); Dated and The Relationship of Archibald and Amity for the Source Festival; The Water Engine and Metamorphoses at Montgomery College; Snow Angel for the Imagination Stage Conservatory; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at Anthem Connection; and the upcoming productions of 4000 Miles at Vermont Stage Company and Can I Really Date a Guy Who Wears a Yarmulke? at the JCCNV. Michael is also a theatre educator, was a panelist at the University of Maryland on Samuel Beckett, and co-wrote an adaptation of The Fatal Marksman, which was produced at James Madison University. Michael is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and a member of the board of directors of theatreWashington.
Director, Eleanor Holdridge has Off-Broadway productions that include Steve & Idi, (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), Cycling Past The Matterhorn(Clurman Theatre), The Imaginary Invalid, and Mary Stuart (Pearl Theatre Company). Regional credits include Gee’s Bend (Arden Theatre); Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, As You Like It, Lettice And Lovage, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Taming Of The Shrew(Shakespeare & Company). The Crucible (Perseverance Theatre), Educating Rita, Noises Off and Art (Triad Stage), Julius Caesar and Macbeth (Milwaukee Shakespeare), Two Gentlemen Of Verona (Alabama Shakespeare), Midsummer Night's Dream (Shakespeare St. Louis), Henry V (Shakespeare on the Sound), Betrayal (Portland Stage), and Lion In Winter (Northern Stage). Her DC area productions include Double Indemnity(Roundhouse Theatre),The Gaming Table (Folger) Pygmalion (Everyman Theatre);Something You Did and Body Awareness (Theatre J); and Much Ado About Nothing(Taffety Punk). Eleanor has been as Artistic Director for the Red Heel Theatre Company, Resident Assistant Director at the Shakespeare Theatre and Resident Director at New Dramatists. She has worked at the Yale School of Drama, NYU and the Juilliard School and currently heads the Directing Department at Catholic University. She holds an MFA from Yale School of Drama. Eleanor’s upcoming projects this season are Zorroat Constellation Theatre, and God of Carnage at Everyman Theatre.
Helen Pafumi is the Artistic Director and co-founder of The Hub Theatre. Since the Hub's inception Helen has produced several world premier plays, multiple area premiers, an annual free staged reading series and commissioned original work from area artists. Her original plays have been produced by The Hub, and been seen at the Kennedy Center's Page to Stage Festival. In addition to her role at The Hub, Helen works as an actor in many DC area theatres, including Folger Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Theatre J, Forum Theatre, Theatre Alliance, Rorschach Theatre, Keegan Theatre, The Inkwell, the Source Festival, and the Beckett Centenary Festival. She has appeared in numerous independent films and area commercials. Helen also does dialect coaching for George Mason University’s theatre program and coaches acting and public speaking. Helen holds a BA in Theatre from Virginia Tech. She has been nominated for a Helen Hayes Award in Outstanding New Play for her co-adaptation of Wonderful Life. She is the recipient of the Puffin Foundation Award and the Washington Canadian Partnership Award.
The Hub Theatre is an award winning, professional non-profit theatre making its home in Fairfax County, Virginia. The Hub Theatre is a member Theatre Washington. The Hub has received grants from Target, the Fink Foundation, the Arts Council of Fairfax, The Friends of Lake Anne, Virginia Commission for the Arts, the Arts Council of Fairfax, Integrity Applications, and Booz Allen Hamilton.
The Hub Theatre endeavors to produce work that highlights our common humanity, providing a theatrical experience that is at once challenging and inclusive. We strive to be the physical center of a dynamic circle of story, art, and community, to create the transcendent exchange unique to live theatre.
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!