This is going to be a busy week, but I'm over the moon and looking forward to every second. On Saturday, February 16, 2013 at 8:00pm, Theatre Ariel, Pennsylvania’s only professional theatre dedicated to illuminating the rich social, cultural and spiritual heritage of the Jewish people, will be presenting a reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS as part of their annual Salon Reading Series.
Hosted by Maureen Pelta, Department Chair and Professor of Art History at Moore College of Art, and Alan M. Feldman, Chancellor of the Philadelphia Bar Association, THE HAMPTON YEARS is a powerful work that explores the development of African American artists, John Biggers and Samella Lewis, under the tutelage of Austrian Jewish refugee painter, Professor Viktor Lowenfeld, in WWII America.
If you're in or near Philly, I'd love to see you! Click here to purchase tickets and to learn more about the event. Seating is limited! Last season was sold out!
Now, if you're already booked on Saturday, no worries! On Sunday, February 17, 2013 at 2:00pm, Theatre Ariel and the National Museum of American Jewish History will present an encore reading of THE HAMPTON YEARS in conjunction with the special exhibition Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow: Jewish Refugee Scholars at Black Colleges. Tickets are $5 and you can see the amazing exhibit. Click here to purchase tickets and to learn more about the event.
I could hardly contain my excitement when Deborah Baer Mozes, Theatre Ariel's Artistic Director, told me that the National Museum of American Jewish History was interested in doing a reading of The Hampton Years as part of the Beyond Swatiska and Jim Crow exhibit. You see, the research in this amazing, in-depth and powerful exhibit inspired this play. It's how I first learned about John Biggers and Viktor Lowenfeld. I felt that everything had come full circle in the most beautiful way. As a playwright, I'm really quite fortunate to have this extraordinary opportunity.
As you can imagine, I'm honored to share my play with Philadelphia audiences and so very appreciative of this opportunity to dig back into the script. What excites me most is that I'll be able to workshop the play with actors who are new to the play and hear it read with an audience who has no history of the play. This will really give me a chance to see what's on the page versus what's been in my head for the past year. I'll be participating in post-show discussions after both readings, which should be really useful in terms of feedback. Finally, what I learn from this weekend will help fuel rewrites for an upcoming reading at the Phillips Collection and that draft will take us into rehearsals for the world premiere. More of all of that anon!
Of course, I'll be sure to let you know how everything goes. For now, please allow me to introduce you to Deborah Baer Mozes, Theatre Ariel's Artistic Director, and to my lovely cast who comprise some of Philadelphia most outstanding, passionate and hardworking theatre artists.
Meet the Artists
DEBORAH BAER MOZES
Deborah Baer Mozes (Director) is founder and artistic director of Theatre Ariel in Philadelphia. Since the inception of the company, she has given life to over 52 new plays and created and directed Theatre Ariel's museum productions, A MUSE in the MUSEum: Journeys in American Jewish History and Heart and History, in partnership with the National Museum of American Jewish History. She was literary manager and dramaturge for the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, associate artistic director of Stageworks Touring Company of New Jersey, artistic director of the Manitoba Theatre Workshop and guest director for the Actors Theatre of Toronto. She directed critically acclaimed productions for the Walnut Street Theatre Independence Studio Season. Mozes has served on the faculties of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, Rowan State University, University of Winnipeg, Walnut Street Theatre School and the Institute of Contemporary Midrash. In Mozes was artist-in-residence with the Arad Arts Project in Israel. She is co-editor with Julianne Bernstein of Voices from Ariel: Ten-minute plays exploring the Jewish experience, published by Dramatic Publishing (August, 1999).
Taysha Canales (Elizabeth Catlett) is a graduate of Arcadia University with a B.F.A. in Acting. Previous Philadelphia credits include: Seek and Hide with Dragon’s Eye Theatre at Smith Playhouse, “Euphrasie” in Flashpoint Theatre Company’s Slip/Shot, and The National Constitution Center’s “Fighting for Democracy” and “Living News” theatrical exhibits. She is an Epic Theatre Ensemble Artist (NYC) as well as a teaching artist with Philly Young Playwrights and Interact Theatre. Next up: The Lysistrata Project with Simpatico Theatre Project.
Akeem Davis (John Biggers) is a graduate of The Florida State University and a proud man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He is from Miami, Florida and since venturing to Philadelphia in 2011 he has acted with Flashpoint Theatre Company, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, InterAct Theatre, and People's Light & Theatre Company, among others. Credits include:
Othello, Desdemona & Iago Walk into a Bar (Ad Hoc Theatre Company), Merry Wives of Windsor (Shakespeare in Clark Park), Etched in Skin on Sunlit Night (InterAct Theatre Company), Slip/Shot (Flashpoint Theatre Company), and The Etymology of Bird (Arena Stage).
Khris Davis (Charles White) earned a BA in Theatre Arts from Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. He has been working as a professional actor working in Philadelphia since 2009 and is involved in education with the Walnut Street Theatre and the Philadelphia Theatre Company. Hailing from Camden, NJ, he takes pride in challenging the stereotypes surrounding the people and the city. Credits include, "Othello, Merchant of Venice, The Venetian twins; Quintessence Theatre Group, "Ruined; Philadelphia Theatre Company", "Curb your enthusiasm; GWCNY", and countless projects with Mike Lemon. "I am honored to be working with a long time friend and colleagues on this new and powerful piece of work.”
Robert Hargraves (President MacLean/Navy Admiral) is excited to be making his debut with Theater Ariel in this Salon Reading of The Hampton Years. Recent roles include: Billy Einhorn in Isis Productions’ The House of Blue Leaves; Dr. Sugar in South Camden Theatre Co.’s critically acclaimed production of Suddenly, Last Summer; he created the role of Doyle in The Ugly Past at Phila. Theatre Workshop’s 4th Annual Playshop Festival and performed as real-life accused murderer Gary Gauger in The Exonerated with both Raven Hill Productions and The Ritz Theater Co. He had a successful run as Juror #8 in the Ritz Theater Co.’s production of 12 Angry Men. Other roles include: Greg in Other Hands (Luna Theater Co.), Eugene in Affluenza and Tom MacKenzie in 7 Year Itch (both at Montgomery Theater Co.), and Josef Mengele in New City Stage’s harrowing Angel: A Nightmare in 2 Acts. Love to the BBFE.
Stephen Hatzai (President Bridgman) has been involved in theatre as an actor, director, producer, technician, playwright and educator in Philadelphia and the Lehigh Valley since the Punic Wars. He has appeared onstage at the Folger, Villanova Theatre, InterAct, Luna Theatre, People’s Light and Theatre, Theatre Catalyst, Theatre Outlet, and the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival among others. The world premiere of his play Waiting for the Ship from Delos: the Last Days of Socrates was a popular and critical success at the 2008 Philly Fringe Festival. He is a former Barrymore voter and is an adjunct Professor of Theatre at Penn State Abington. He is delighted to be working on “The Hampton Years” with such a talented group theatre artists. Steve is a proud member of Actors’ Equity.
Ian Lithgow (Viktor Lowenfeld) performed most recently in the Delaware Theatre Company production of The Outgoing Tide, which enjoyed a successful run at 59E59 Theaters in New York. Other Off-Broadway credits: Boy Gets Girl at the Manhattan Theatre Club. He has worked in numerous regional theatres including the Goodman Theatre, the American Repertory Theatre, the Williamstown Theatre Festival, the Ahmanson Theatre, the Pasadena Playhouse, Studio Arena, and the Kavinoky Theatre, where he was the recipient of the 2011 Artvoice Theatre Award for Outstanding Actor in a Play (Secret Order). Ian relocated to Philadelphia one year ago, and has since worked with Theatre Ariel, the Delaware Theatre Company, the Montgomery Theater, and the Philadelphia Artists Collective.
ASHLEY B. SPEARMAN
Ashley B. Spearman (Samella Lewis) grew up in Philadelphia and is an alumnus of Temple University. Her credits include: The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, Long Time Since Yesterday, ‘Dentity Crisis, In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, Relative Strangers, Two Gentlemen Of Verona, For Colored Girls Who’ve Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf, First Breeze of Summer, Love and Communication. Ashley was most recently seen at the 2012 PlayPenn Conference’s reading of My Tidy List of Terrors. She is very happy to be part of this production.
Miriam White (Margaret Lowenfeld) is a Philadelphia based actor/educator. She just finished a successful run of Cinderella at the Arden Theatre. Recent productions include: Brighton Beach Memoirs (Old Globe), Elliot, a Soldier’s Fugue (Ion Theatre, Craig Noel Nomination), Peaches En Regalia, Hazardous and Restaurant Shorts (PPP), Frida Libre (La Jolla Playhouse), Hearts of Man (Riot Group), Wildflower (PlayPenn and the Lark), House of Spirits(PlayPenn), Have a Nice Life (Edinburgh Fringe, NY Fringe and NPTC.) Next up: The Lysistrata Project with Simpatico.
Over the next week, I'm going to share interviews with the artistic director and cast along with my thoughts on our rehearsal and the readings. Stay tuned!
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!