Yesterday's rehearsal and reading of The Hampton Years was rich, productive and rewarding. It was wonderful to be in the room with Shirley, Otis, Karen and our cast. We had a quick and dirty read through and exploration of the script. What's more, I was inspired to create a few new moments in our brief time together. This is what comes of working with smart and generous actors who make great, bold acting choices.
Everyone at The Phillips Collection was warm and welcoming. They strongly believe in this play and were proud to have it as part of the series. Coincidentally, this was actually my second involvement with their theatre series. In 2010, Round House Theatre presented scenes from PERMANENT COLLECTION and as dramaturg, I provided them with research.
We had a diverse, intimate and attentive audience. Among them were students from UDC and Howard University as well two graduates from Hampton University. Also, in attendance was George Vrandenburg, who in addition to serving as chairman of the board at The Phillips Collection, also serves on the Board of Trustees at UDC. We were introduced at intermission and immediately discussed the parallels between the events in the THE HAMPTON YEARS and what is happening at UDC. As it happens, this parallel is addressed in detail in a recent interview, 1940s Arts Drama Replays in 2013, that I did with Hill Rag/East of the River reporter Virginia Spatz. In it, Virginia does an excellent job covering what's at stake in the decision to discontinue the Theatre Art program from a variety of perspectives including that of the students, faculty, administration and D.C. council.
The post show discussion, led by the Phillips Collection's Director of Communication Ann Greer, was fun and informative. It was wonderful to hear from Hampton alum about their own experiences and really great to hear from working artists who were inspired by their life, careers and legacies of the artists portrayed in the play. Actors Lolita Marie and David Lamont Wilson also spoke eloquently and passionately about their experiences working on THE HAMPTON YEARS from the very beginning of the play's development. It was really all so great!
As for what's next, we're at that exciting place in new play development process where we need to get the play on it's feet to see how it works in the body and on the stage. With rehearsal beginning in two weeks, we're all pretty eager to get started. I'll do another set of rewrites in the next few days and hope to make a visit out to Hampton University next week. More on that soon! For now, please enjoy this photos from our day together.
The Hampton Years Family at The Phillips Collection
The Hampton Years Artistic Team Hard at Work
Playwright and Director Enjoying the Student Art Exhibit
The Hampton Years Reading at The Phillips Collection
The Hampton Years Post Show Discussion
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.
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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!