#MakingTheMoor Embarking on Nine Months
of American Moor in The NorthEast and London
I write this just a week or two away from returning to the stage with this theatre work of mine that has been silent for nearly a year. After garnering major honors for our 2017 Boston production, we are back at it, creatively insatiable and chronically dissatisfied. The play in Boston said everything that the play should say, if indeed it should “say” anything. It’s not about sending messages, but about presenting truths, I think, and sharing them with audiences who may not have ever considered those same facts in the way that you do. I think we did that to great success. It might not quite have looked exactly how we, the creative team would most have liked it to look. But we’re never quite sure. It is the audiences that have come out to experience the play in every city, their responses, their emotional engagement that continue to shape the look of this play, a piece of theatre so much about all of us, and what we are living right now.
FIVE DESTINATIONS / FIVE PRESENTATION
AUGUST 7TH AND 8TH: Luna Stage Theatre, West Orange, NJ
Tickets Available Now!!
AUGUST 12TH: Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, London, UK
Tickets Available Now!!
NOVEMBER 8TH – 10TH: Alice Withington Rooke Theatre, Mount Holyoke College, South Hadley, MA
JANUARY 3 – FEBRUARY 3: The Anacostia Playhouse, Washington, DC
APRIL 10 – 21: Arts Emerson, Robert J. Orchard Theatre, Paramount Center, Boston, MA
Tickets Available Now!!
Our presentation on the set of Susan-Lori Parks’ Fucking A at the Signature Theatre Center in Manhattan last October made us hungry for a set. We had been doing American Moor on bare stages everywhere we went. That’s more or less how the show was written to be played. But in order to be granted the opportunity to present the work to a Manhattan audience at a central venue, we had to agree to put it up in a single afternoon, and to work on the set that existed in the space at the time we occupied it. We had to get in, light, stage, rehearse, and perform the show for audience twice in a single day. The process, as processes under pressure often do, lead to some remarkable discovery. The set, that was altogether foreign to the play we were presenting, focused the work in ways that we had not expected, for us, and we think for our audiences as well. We have been on the hunt for our definitive set and lighting design ever since, and hoping to discover it somewhere among these many dates ahead. But again, it was the audience response that indicated most strongly to us that something had shifted. They experienced the performance as if the set had been our intention all along. Those who had seen the show before expressed how it made a particular new sort of sense played there.
We start with nothing again. At Luna Stage in New Jersey, we put the play on its feet again and prepare it for the London engagement. We are on another bare stage, with our audience who will inform us with their reactions and interactions what’s still working… and what needs work… In London, at Shakespeare’s Globe as part of the Shakespeare and Race Festival, the unadorned stage of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse will again give rise to innovation. American Moor by candlelight in a Jacobean Indoor Theatre??!! What an odyssey that promises to be!! And this, a totally new audience, with perhaps a different set of sensibilities altogether, experiencing the matters of the play through their British perspective of Shakespeare, race, and America. They are bound to have something to say, and we are eager to hear it.
Back in The States all bets are off. We do a two-week residency and five performances on the campus of Mount Holyoke College, engaging with the students there and on the sister campuses of UMass and Amherst. The college engagement is a thing unto itself, unlike anywhere else we perform, or any other work we engage in. While we are moving more and more into the commercial arena, the communion and communication with students in and around this play has always been, and will continue to be vibrant, revelatory, and rewarding.
A return to Washington DC follows. The Anacostia Playhouse was the venue in the summer of 2015, where the play first came to the attention of the Folger Shakespeare Library, and the library has been a staunch supporter of the development and exposure of the work ever since. So this will be something of a homecoming in the new year. Much to celebrate, and all of the DC audience that missed the experience the first time around.
The spring of 2019 brings us back to Boston. We really need to call that a second homecoming, because it is returning to the city that embraced the work with passion in the summer of 2017, bestowing upon us two IRNE Awards and an Elliot Norton Award. In the hands of our hosts Arts Emerson in the beautiful Robert Orchard Theatre of the Paramount Center, we will most certainly have arrived somewhere, perhaps with all the pieces in place that we have been searching for, perhaps not, but again, letting the wider Boston audience come and take part in the conversation that so many are having with us. What is the role of a lifetime? What is the role of a life?