Actor Keith Hamilton Cobb website

Tag Archives: Kim Weild



Turning The Page

American Moor at ArtsEmerson in Boston Ushers in the Newest Chapter in The Performance Life of an American Play

Photo: Nina Wurtzel

Photo: Nina Wurtzel

 

The first public performance of American Moor was at Westchester Community College on November 20, 2013.  The first drafts of the play were set to paper approximately a year prior to that.  So the ArtsEmerson production of American Moor on the Robert J. Orchard Stage at the Paramount Center for the Arts in Boston, MA marked six and a half years of development and performance.  It was the culmination of the good faith and intention of a small group of theatre makers and top-shelf designers who brought to the stage in April the play as we had never seen it, never experienced it…  It was perhaps the play that we were never completely sure we were looking for until we all found it together.  The thrill of those revelations we shared with audiences experiencing the play for the first time.  They had never seen anything like it either…

January, 2019 through the closing date in Boston on Easter Sunday had been a whirlwind of travel, multiple stages, diverse audiences, and a last dash towards something definitive.  The photos below are a montage of the DC, LA, London, and Boston.

Washington, DC

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Los Angeles, CA

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London, England

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                         Boston, Massachusetts

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Set, sound and lighting designers, Wilson Chin, Christian Frederickson, and Alan C. Edwards.IMG_7846

 

This will be the last of the entries on this page.

 

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Photo: Nina Wurtzel
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A new phase starts now, and we, the creatives, are all eagerly looking forward to where it goes…

Join us in New York City at Cherry Lane Theatre this Fall, September, 2019 for American Moor off-Broadway and beyond.  We’re thrilled to have you with us.

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All This Activity Around One Little Play…

American Moor on the Campuses of
Mount Holyoke College, University of Massachusetts,
and Amherst, 11/2  - 11/15/18…

So this was new…

Fourteen days over three campuses, five performances of American Moor, and classroom interaction in classes ranging from “Intro to Literature” and “History of Performance” to “Diversity, Inclusion, and Everyday Democracy” and “Race, Racism and Power,” a round table discussion, a symposium or two… We sat and spoke with renowned scholars and visual artists.  My play and I had never done anything like this before. The visitor to the web page here can scroll down and read about other college engagements. They all had purpose and value.

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Top three photos credit: Jon Crispin
Clockwise from center: Director, Kim Weild; Scholar, Kim F. Hall; Umass Professor, Marjorie Rubright
Lower Left: Artist, Curlee Raven Holten, and Mt. Holyoke Art Museum Director, Tricia Y. Paik
Upper Center: Mt. Holyoke Professor, Amy Rodgers, and Curlee Raven Holten, visual artist and Director of the David C. Driskell Center, University of Maryland

But this was another animal entirely. It was as if American Moor served as the nexus for any number of disciplines to converge and understand their place in this story. A Muslim student from Saudi Arabia stopping me on campus wept to discover upon seeing a performance that “his” story was her story, that she could not be the fully actualized individual in her new life as an American college student. Another small woman—a student as unlike me in age, gender, race, and life experience as any two people could be—steps up to speak with me after a symposium. She’s tracked the protagonist’s sore shoulder from the opening of the play through where, driving towards the last third, he speaks of how his injury now impedes upon his dreams because, aging, his body will no longer do the work to repair itself so well, and she tells me that she is a violinist and a good one, and that she doesn’t know, even as young as she is, if her shoulder will allow her to be a great violinist, and that she is afraid.

I don’t know what else to say…

Two Mount Holyoke students took me to breakfast. They wanted me to account for how Desdemona is addressed in my play, or, just as important, how she is NOT addressed, and only referred to, for the most part as they had perceived it, through images of violence against women. I’m still wondering if they were satisfied with my answers. Ultimately, it was, for me, just another instance of viewers finding themselves somewhere in the play, and wanting to defend, define, deny, or discuss their complicity.

This is mostly a document in photos and short video clips. I’m hoping they can tell the story better than I can. It’s not my favorite thing to tell the story at all, but I hope rather that it begins to tell itself if we just keep showing up. I can’t pretend that everything that audiences are finding in this play I intentionally put there… but something did… Documenting these endeavors as they come and go by is my responsibility to whatever thing has done that.

Holyoke Post-Perf Comment (Complicity) from Keith Hamilton Cobb on Vimeo.

Holyoke Post-Perf Comment (Dir. Modality) from Keith Hamilton Cobb on Vimeo.

Amherst Professor Comment Post-Perf from Keith Hamilton Cobb on Vimeo.

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A Southland Premiere

Southern Shakespeare Company and Florida A&M University Collaborate to Host Actor and Director and American Moor for a Week: 1/9-1/13/17

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This experiment in community engagement was a first for American Moor AND for my director, Kim Weild and me.  Southern Shakespeare Company is a small Shakespeare Company in Tallahassee, Florida with a focus on education.  Not so small it seems, however, to stop them from taking an interest in American Moor, and rallying the resources to bring us to Florida for a week of work.

With the FAMU Essential Theatre students

With the FAMU Essential Theatre students

Their partners in this endeavor were several.  Most prominently Florida A&M University played host to our rehearsals and performances in their Lee Hall Auditorium.  While there we met and worked with college students from FAMU’s Essential Theatre Program, as well as with eleven-, twelve-, and thirteen-year-olds from Southern Shakespeare’s youth company called The Bardlings.  We also met some wonderful people in the greater Tallahassee community when we attended an event hosted by Village Square, a non-partisan public educational forum.  Their event was called “Created Equal,” and sought to stimulate constructive dialogue around matters of race and race relations.  We were busy…

The production team: (from left) director Kim Weild; stage tech - Felix, Anitra, and Nile, and publicist Pamela Daniels in front.

The production team: (from left) director Kim Weild; stage tech – Felix Anitra, and Nile; (front) publicist Pamela Daniels.

We had not had a concerted period of rehearsal for quite some time.  Most of the recent outings for American Moor have been of the one-off model, where we quickly mount the show in a venue, do it, and go home.  This was an experiment in residence, where we had several days to work, eat, drink, acquaint ourselves, and communicate with smart, engaging, theatre-loving people who believed in the work of this play as much as we did and do.

We played two performances to houses of about 500 people each night.  Even this many years in, the post-performance responses from always diverse audience members astound me.
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Reception at Meek-Eaton Black Archives

Reception at Meek-Eaton Black Archives

There is always some perspective or thought that someone will share that I’ve never heard before.  Each new endeavor brings discovery.

Here are as many pictures from the week as it makes any kind of sense to stuff into a single blog post.  There really isn’t a whole lot else to say but “Thank you.”

From left, Southern Shakespeare Company Executive Director, Laura Johnson, me, and director Kim Weild at Village Square's "Created Equal" event.

At Village Square’s “Created Equal” event: (from left) Southern Shakespeare Company Executive Director Laura Johnson, me, and director Kim Weild.

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With noted writer and attorney, Chuck Hobbs, on stage at “Created Equal,” the Village Square event in Tallahassee.

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