Last night's reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS was such a wonderful experience. I learned so much from this collaboration with FIU Theatre, GableStage, and the Coral Gables Museum. It was a rainy day and I was worried that we wouldn't have much an audience. Well, much to my surprise and delight,I worried for nothing! We had a rather large, attentive, and enthusiastic audience.
As you know, the play examines the relationship between Austrian Jewish professor Vikton Lowefeld and his students, John Biggers and Samella Lewis. What made this cast so special was that it was comprised of students and professors from FIU Theatre and New World School of the Arts. Owing to this, the conversations that we had about art and education was that much more relevant and charged.
The post show discussion was also lively and engaging. A great many audiences members had attended the Beyond Swatiska and Jim Crow exhibit and were thrilled to see the themes come to life so intimately and urgently in a play. I opened the conversation by speaking about the process of new play development from Theater J's Locally Grown Festival to the world premiere production to the continued development taking place with Virginia Stage Company. In response to a question about the difficulty of writing this play, I shared that it most certainly had to do with the balancing the history and the drama. As interesting as history can be, it doesn't always make for compelling drama. With each draft, I'm working to activate the history, fuel the characters intention to increase the stakes. It's an exciting process to be sure! One student shared his appreciation for the play's close examination of individuals living in exile and another student found the conversation around race and identity in art to be deeply reflective her own experience.
Throughout the weekend, I managed to do one rewrite on Sunday evening and furiously took notes throughout the reading. Now that I'm home, I'm going to incorporate these edits and send this new draft over to VSC. I'll certainly keep you posted as the play continues to develop but for now, please enjoy these photos from our rehearsal and reading.
Rehearsal at FIU Theatre
Reading at Gable Stage
About the Coral Gable Museum
The Coral Gables Museum’s mission is to celebrate, investigate and explore the civic arts of architecture and urban and environmental design, including fostering an appreciation for the history, vision, and cultural landscape of Coral Gables; promoting beauty and planning as well as historic and environmental preservation for a broad audience, including children, families, and community members, as well as local, regional, national and international visitors. The museum optimizes its mission by cultivating effective partnerships, and providing programming that includes exhibitions, collections, educational offerings, lectures, tours, publications and special events.
About FIU Theatre
FIU Theatre guides students through the discovery of their unique artistic visions and helps them develop the skills to make them a reality. Through a rigorous course of study in the classroom and participation in a diverse mix of productions that address a variety of global perspectives, periods, and styles, students have the opportunity to explore acting, design and construction, play analysis and dramaturgy, history, directing, playwriting and stage management.
We present a season of four productions each year that serve as a laboratory for our students to put their learning into practice. In addition, students will have the ability to write, direct and perform in productions including our Student Theatre Lab, New Plays Festival, and a summer Alternative Theatre Festival. Our summer Alternative Theatre Festival includes a development project of a new work by an established playwright, a faculty directed piece, one student directed piece, and may include Alumni showcase and reunion productions.
The mission of GableStage is to provide the South Florida community with classical, contemporary and new theatrical productions of artistic excellence. We challenge our multicultural audience with innovative productions that entertain as well as confront today's issues and ideas. By emphasizing nontraditional casting and employing the best of our local creative force, GableStage endeavors to meet the needs of our diverse community. GableStage is committed to the enrichment of the local actor, director, designer and technician by providing the opportunity to achieve artistic acclaim in this region. GableStage believes the future of theatre can be assured only by the development of young audiences. Therefore, our in-house mainstage and in-school touring Educational Programs are major components of our theatre. Furthermore, GableStage welcomes the opportunity to support as many worthy causes as possible through our theatrical production benefits and making the theatre available for use to other cultural and community groups.
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!