Kitchen Theatre to Premiere SLASHES OF LIGHT, 6/11-29

Kitchen Theatre to Premiere SLASHES OF LIGHT, 6/11-29

The Kitchen Theatre Company completes its 2013-14 Season with the world premiere of a play set in Chicago's South Side during the turbulent 1960s. SLASHES OF LIGHT by Judy Tate is produced in collaboration with Civic Ensemble. This production connects Civic Ensemble's focus on community-based work by women and people of color with the Kitchen's two decades of producing bold, intimate work that starts "important conversations." Previews are June 11, 12 and 13, opening night is June 14, and the play closes on June 29.

It's September, 1966, and 14-year-old Sunny is excited about the start of the school year. She has plans to get her friend Kaleb to teach her how to dance the Gouster Bop, and after that, she is going to get the attention of Steven Blake, a guitar-playing loner on whom she has a major crush. Things are looking sunny for Sunny, but she wonders how things will work out when her all African-American junior high hires its first white teacher, Mrs. Hedges. The three teenagers have obstacles to overcome as they take their first steps as young adults, and Mrs. Hedges is eager to work with her new students but must find a way to escape her haunting past. Told with humor and humanity, SLASHES OF LIGHT is a unique look at coming-of-age and coming-to-grips with life's unexpected challenges and discoveries.

Playwright Judy Tate is also a director, actress, and educator. A 20-year member of Ensemble Studio Theatre, Tate is co-founder and Producing Artistic Director of The American Slavery Project, a theatrical response to revisionism in our nation's discourse around slavery, the Civil War and Jim Crow. She has won four Emmys and a Writers' Guild of America award. SLASHES OF LIGHT was developed at Ensemble Studio Theatre's Going to the River, CAP21, The Black and Latino Playwrights festival, and a reading by Civic Ensemble last year.

Godfrey Simmons, artistic director of Civic Ensemble, says of Tate, "I've been working with Judy as a theatre artist for nearly 20 years - personally, this is a dream come true to be part of a major production of Slashes of Light. Her plays are almost Shavian in their intellect while teeming with passionate characters and bold imagery." Kitchen Theatre artistic director Rachel Lampert adds, "the Kitchen Theatre is pleased to be supporting this exciting play and first-time collaboration. And the cast and creative team are terrific!"

The production is directed by Melissa Maxwell**, a NYC-based director specializing in new play development. Often collaborating with Judy Tate, Melissa has been with SLASHES since its inception.

Leading the cast as the effervescent Sunny is Judi Jackson, a rising senior at the University of Mary Washington in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She will be sharing the stage with Ithaca-based talent: Sarah K. Chalmers* (a founding member of the Kitchen Theatre and Civic Ensemble, seen on many of Ithaca's stages, including the Kitchen, Hangar, and Cornell University) as Mrs. Hedges and Jelani Pitcher (a junior Acting major at Ithaca College) as Kaleb. Joining them are Kitchen Theatre first-timers: Robert McKay* (a NYC-based film and stage actor) as The Conductor and Ryan Hope Travis (recently performed the world premiere of A Shout in Salty Water, an individual artist commission by the New York State Council on the Arts) as Steven.

Lighting Design is by Tyler M. Perry (KTC: Heroes, Venus in Fur, Lungs, and more), Scenic Design by Ravi (Riw) Rakkulchon (junior Ithaca College Production Arts student), Costume Design by Lisa Boquist (KTC: Heroes, Black Pearl Sings!, Cock, and more), Sound Design by Scott O'Brien (Lincoln Center, Abingdon Theatre, American Stage Company, Chautauqua, and more), and the Production Stage Manager is Jen Schilansky*.

(*member, AEA; **member, SDC)

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