My favorite part of new play development process is getting to work with the director, dramaturg, and cast on the script. With this reading at Rep Stage, I'm working up with longtime friend and frequent collaborator Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zoe, who will serve as director. You'll remember that he directed Theater J's Locally Grown Festival reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS and he's serving as dramaturg on the upcoming world premiere production of the WIZARD OF OZ at Adventure Theatre-MTC.
Otis will lead at team of brilliant and talented acting ensemble that includes Nora Achrati, James J. Johnson, Lolita Marie, Jon Hudson Odom, Natalie Graves Tucker, and Dawn Ursula. This will be my first time working with Jon and Natalie as a playwright, but I have long admired their work. Of course, I had the honor of working with Dawn, Nora, JJ, and Lolita on this script when it was in development at Arena Stage as part of Playwrights Arena. I'm excited for them to experience this new draft.
Over the next several days, I'm going to share artist interviews and give you a sneak peek into our rehearsal process. For now, please meet our brilliant creative team and talented cast! Click here to learn more about the reading.
Meet the Creative Team
Lisa A. Wilde (Rep Stage Literary Manager/Resident Dramaturg) is a Professor of Theatre at Howard Community College as well as the Resident Dramaturg at Rep Stage. Previous to Rep Stage, she worked as the Education Director at Center Stage and Young Playwrights Inc.. She is a member of the Literary Managers and Dramaturgs of the Americas and the Chair of Dramaturgy for KCACTF Region 2. She holds a doctorate in Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism from the Yale School of Drama
Jacqueline E. Lawton (Playwright) received her MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin. 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; Noms de Guerre; and Our Man Beverly Snow. Ms. Lawton She is also a proud member of the Dramatist Guild of America.
Otis Cortez Ramsey-Zöe (Director) is an Associate Artistic Director at banished? productions, Lecturer of Theatre Arts at Howard University, Series Editor for NoPassport Press’s Dreaming the Americas Series, and freelance dramaturg. Current projects include dramaturg for Jacqueline E. Lawton’s new adaptation of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Adventure Theatre), Uncle Vanya (Round House), The Shipment (Forum Theatre) and deviser/ dramaturg for Tyger presented bybanished? productions as part of the Mead Theatre Lab Program in 2014-2015 season.
Meet the Cast
Nora Achrati (Hasina Bahram) has appeared in shows with Forum Theatre, where she is an ensemble member, as well as Constellation Theatre, Imagination Stage, The Hub, 1st Stage, Arts on the Horizon, and The Welders. She tours and performs with New Moon Theater, a Baltimore-based educational theater company, and teaches with Round House Theatre. She'll be performing next with Constellation in The Fire and the Rain.
James J. Johnson (Cooper Belizaire) received his BFA in Theatre from Virginia Commonwealth University. Favorite credits include: Our Suburb (Theater J), Ruined (Arena Stage), A Member of the Wedding (Ford’s Theatre), The Unmentionables (Woolly Mammoth Theatre), The Jungle Book (Adventure Theatre MTC), Teddy Roosevelt and the Ghostly Mistletoe, The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg (Kennedy Center), Kingdom (ACTCo), and P. Nokio(Imagination Stage). He starred in the indie film, Too Saved, available to rent from Netflix.
Lolita-Marie (Jude Nolan-Belizaire) is a two-time W.A.T.C.H. Award winner (Lead and Cameo), Lolita’s recent stage credits include Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls, Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky (Ruby Griffith 2nd Runner Up), Bruce Norris’s Clybourne Park, Jack Sharkey’s While the Lights Were Out, and Jacqueline Lawton’s The Hampton Years.
Jon Hudson Odom (Douglas Hamilton) attended University of North Carolina School of the Arts. Recent credits: Olney Theatre Center: Colossal, Piano Lesson; Center Stage: Twelfth Night; Rep Stage: Yellowman; Keegan Theatre: A Few Good Men; Everyman Theatre: You Can't Take It With You; Studio Theatre: 2-2-Tango, Invisible Man(u/s); Fords Theatre: Our Town; Theatre Alliance DC: Reals, Imagination Stage: BFG; Constellation Theatre: The Ramayana; Goodman Theatre: A Christmas Carol; Theatre Alliance Winston-Salem: Take Me Out.
Natalie Tucker (Leeda Ramsey) received her B.A. in Speech Communications from University of Maryland at College Park and a Master’s in Social Work from Howard University. She has appeared at Studio Theatre, African Continuum, Folger, and 1st Stage, and in commercials, industrials and voiceovers around the region including AARP, FDIC, Marriott, and Ocean City. She’s also a Helen Hayes judge for theatreWashington, an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and neighborhood run coordinator for Black Girls RUN!. www.natalietucker.com
Dawn Ursula (Mira Hamilton) has recently appeared at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company: Polignac/Mrs. Sauce, David Adjmi's Marie Antoinette, director Yury Urnov; Francine, Peter Sinn Nachtrieb's The Totalitarians, director Robert O'Hara; Black Woman/Actor 6, Jackie Sibblies Drury's We Are Proud to Present... director Michael John Garcés also director of Danai Gurira's The Convert for which she received a 2014 Helen Hayes Award. Also, at Everyman Theatre: By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage director Walter Dallas. www.dawnursula
About Rep Stage
Rep Stage, founded by Valerie Lash in 1993, is the only professional regional theatre in the country in residence at a Community College. Committed to artistic excellence Rep Stage has been honored with several Helen Hayes Awards, and close to fifty nominations. The theatre offers its audiences a variety of evocative programing each season often including regional and/or national premieres. From its beginnings Rep Stage has provided patrons with professional theatre in Howard County at affordable prices with both single ticket and flexible subscription options. Dedicated to arts education, Rep Stage offers opportunities for HCC students to engage in the work as both audience members and/or theatre artists. Housed in the Horowitz Center for the Arts at HCC, productions are presented in either of the theatres two state of the art spaces; the Studio Theatre, a flexible 150 seat black box theatre, as well as the Smith Theatre a 400+ seat traditional proscenium 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!