Tomorrow, I leave for Miami. It'll be a my first time in Florida and I'm making the most of my time while I'm there. On Sunday, in addition to attending rehearsals at FIU Theatre and taking part in the From Swastika and Jim Crow: Lessons and Legacies panel discussion at the Coral Gables Museum, I'll be meeting with Katie Christie Bereng, TCG Young Leader of Color and founder of Voices United, to learn more about the intergenerational work that she and her organization are doing around Diversity, Inclusion and Equity in the South Florida theatre community. More on all of that soon. For now, here's more information about the play and this extraordinary, passionate, and talented company of artists!
About the Play
The Hampton Years explores the relationship between art professor Viktor Lowenfeld and his students, John Biggers and Samella Lewis. Lowenfeld joined the Hampton Institute in Virginia in 1939 as assistant professor of Industrial Arts and studio art teacher. Burgeoning artist John Biggers, who went on to become an internationally acclaimed painter, sculptor, teacher and philosopher, was his student. As was Samella Lewis, artist, printmaker and educator, with whom Lowenfeld had a contentious, but respectful relationship. The Hampton Years examines the impact of World War II on Jewish refugees living in the United States and their role in shaping the lives and careers of African American students in the segregated south.
Presented by Florida International University's Center for Humanities in an Urban Environment in collaboration with FIU's Department of Theatre and GableStage, a staged reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS will take place on Monday, October 20th at 7:00pm as part of the Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow exhibit. Click here to learn more.
Meet the Creative Team
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; Noms de Guerre; and Our Man Beverly Snow. 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, National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright Alum, and member of Arena Stage's Playwrights' Arena. She is also a proud member of the Dramatist Guild of America.
Phillip M. Church (Director) holds an M.F.A. from the University of California at Irvine and a graduate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. He has professional and extensive experience in acting, directing, and stage management in England, South Africa, and America. He is presently working on establishing an exchange program in performance between the FIU Department of Theatre and the Southampton Institute and Southampton University in England, a Shakespearean series for schools, in partnership with WLRN and is developing a new film program at FIU. He is the Artistic Director and President of WhatIfWorks an interative theatre, film and music company that aims to give recent graduates professional experiences in their chosen fields. He currently serves as the Chair of External and Community Engagement.
Meet the Cast
Aaron H. Alpern (Viktor Lowenfeld), grew up in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He has worked as a professional actor throughout the Midwest including, Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Pittsburgh, performing at First Folio, Chicago Shakespeare, Writers Theatre, Timeline Theatre, Next Act, Northern Stage, and Quantum Theatre. Recently, he played Michael in Tipping Point’s production of Fiction. Other credits include, George –Same Time Next Year at Two Muses Theatre, Mr. Dark – Something Wicked This Way Comes at Meadowbrook, Sharkey – The Seafarer at Performance Network, Frederick - Enchanted April at Meadowbrook, Cooper – Denial at the J.E.T., and Prospero and Cymbeline, as the Equity Guest Artist for Hillsdale College and the Grand Valley Shakespeare festival respectively. Aaron has appeared in several industrial films as well as an independent feature film and on TV, Aaron was seen in various commercials, the Magic Door Children’s Theatre and The Colbert Report. Aaron has taught and coached in California, Illinois and Michigan. He received his M.F.A. in Acting from The California Institute for the Arts and his Bachelors from the University of Michigan.
Rebecca Covey (Margaret Lowenfeld) is an Equity actor and a designated Linklater Voice teacher. She earned her BFA in Theatre and BA in French from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her MFA from the Professional Theatre Training Program at the University of Wisconsin. In Chicago, she taught at the Theatre School at DePaul University, Northern Illinois University, and Columbia College. Favorite Chicago acting credits include Simone de Beauvoir in Nelson and Simone (Live Bait Theatre), Hermione in The Winters Tale, Romeo in Romeo and Juliet, Lady MacBeth in MacBeth, Hester in The Scarlet Letter and Anka in Hunting Cockroaches (Footsteps Theatre), Sarah in The Lover and Jane inBenefactors (Writers Theatre Chicago), Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Devil’s Disciple, and Back to Methusela (Shaw Chicago). Regional credits include Sarah in The Substance of Fire and Viola in Twelfth Night (The Northern Stage – Milwaukee), All My Sons (New American Theatre), Quake and ID (Quantum Theatre – Pittsburgh), Mothers Day (Boarshead Theatre), Lady MacBeth in MacBeth (Theatre at the Center), Relatively Speaking (Next Act Theatre Milwaukee), Abigail in Denial (Jewish Ensemble Theatre), Something Wicked This Way Comes(Meadowbrook Theatre) and Eleemosynary (Williamston Theatre). Rebecca is interested in International Theatre and has performed in Scotland, Australia and France. Additional interests include: the intersection of gender, culture and voice; accents and dialects; and heightened language including Shakespeare, Moliere and Shaw.
O'Neil Delapenha (John Biggers) is a South Florida native and professional actor. He holds a Bachelor's of Fine Arts degree from New World School of the Arts. He is currently playing the role of Bobby Franklin in Sunshine Theatre Company's production of "Run for Your Wife", now touring the South Florida area. He is also involved in several shows with Fantasy Theatre Factory, for which he is the production manager. He is happy to be apart of this process and is thankful for the opportunity.
Madeleine Escarne (Samella Lewis) grew up knowing that in some form or fashion, she wanted to be a professional storyteller since the age of nine. Through character, the written word, or action, Madeleine envisioned herself sharing stories that people could not only be entertained by but can take away a deeper meaning from. Madeleine received her first opportunity to be on stage in the Vam York Theatre at the Gainesville Community Playhouse in the production of To Kill a Mockingbird in the role of Helen. Madeleine knew that this hunger for theatre would not suffice until she pursued it full time. Leaving her Corporate HR position, she returned to Miami, FL to pursue a BFA degree with a specialization in performance at Florida International University. Aside from the glitz and glamor of what performance can be, Madeleine hopes that any audience she has the honor of being before is deeply affected by the essence of the message.
Makeba Pace (Elizabeth Catlett) is an adjunct professor at The New World School of the Arts. Some of her plays include: Knock Me A Kiss, King Hedley, Waafrika, and Crumbs From the Table of Joy. Makeba also appeared on film and television shows including: Smitty, Collapse, Asemah’s Journey, The Fence and Graceland. Her professional associations include: Actors Equity Association (AEA) , Screen Actors Guild (SAG-AFTRA). In December she will be performing in Sunset Baby with The Boca Theatre Guild.
Wayne E. Robinson, Jr. (Dr. Malcolm McLean) is a graduate of Phillips Academy (Andover), Northwestern University, The National Theatre Conservatory and American Conservatory Theatre (STC). After many years as an actor and director, he joined the Theatre faculty at FIU where he is currently Associate Professor. His theatre career, which includes acting and directing in over 60 productions, has taken him to Chicago, Denver, San Francisco, Los Angeles and now Miami. At FIU, he has directed Eleemosynary, The Rose Tattoo, All in the Timing, Talking With…, Sylvia, 5th of July, The House of Blue Leaves, Glengarry Glen Ross, The Hot L Baltimore, As You Like It, Balm in Gilead, Anna in the Tropics, Electricidad,Pericles and the Musicals Company, Gypsy, Hair, and The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. In South Florida, professional projects include directingLine, All in the Timing, and Frag, as well as Acting in Betrayal, Talley’s Folly, King Lear, Never the Sinner, The House of Seven Gables, Electra,Wit, The Weir, Hamlet, Othello, and Twelfth Night.
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!