Berkeley Rep Premieres THE HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND, Now thru 3/16
Berkeley Repertory Theatre announces the world premiere of The House that will not Stand, a historical comedic drama commissioned from award-winning poet-playwright and Oakland native Marcus Gardley. Sensuous, witty, heartbreaking, and uplifting - The House that will not Stand unearths a story about free women of color in 1836 New Orleans, where black Creole women entered into common-law marriages with affluent white men. When her wealthy lover mysteriously dies, Beartrice Albans' foundation of security hangs precariously by a thread. She is left to fend for her three unwed daughters in a world where freedom must be carefully negotiated. Told in a rich and lyrical river of words, this new play was developed through The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. It's helmed by Patricia McGregor, whose many credits include the celebrated production of Spunk at California Shakespeare Theater.
The House that will not Stand begins previews on Berkeley Rep's intimate Thrust Stage tonight, January 31, opens on Wednesday, February 5 and runs through Sunday, March 16, 2014.
"Continuing Berkeley Rep's commitment to commissioning new work and nurturing emerging talent through The Ground Floor - our incubator for new work - we're delighted to premiere The House that will not Stand, a new play richly penned by Marcus Gardley," says Michael Leibert Artistic Director Tony Taccone. "Marcus has been on the cusp of stardom for several years now and has reached a level of acclaim and justly deserved recognition. He partners with noted director Patricia McGregor who has a strong foothold here in the Bay Area from her well-received productions with California Shakespeare Theater. We're eager for audiences to experience the lyrical, enchanting, and lush world that Marcus and Patricia have created in The House that will not Stand."
"I'm thrilled to be making my debut at Berkeley Rep in the backyard of my hometown of Oakland," remarks Gardley. "The House that will not Stand is a story that is close to my heart and I'm grateful to have participated in The Ground Floor, which provided the creative space and artistic support to develop the play into what it is today. In writing this play, I was very much inspired by New Orleans and a particular time in its history when plaçage (the common-law marriages of white men and black Creole women) was a significant part of the culture. A lot of people don't know about this history, and a lot of people do not know that African American women were millionaires. I wanted to expose and evaluate the culture and how African American women functioned in New Orleans society within the class system of that era. What's powerful about the play and this time period is that you see all these questions about freedom coming together and clashing. It raises the notion of 'what is freedom and can anyone be free?' Plays come alive with an audience, and I can't wait for them to bring to life the full richness of this story."
Referencing Gardley's abundant body of work, the New York Times opines, "Mr. Gardley, who graduated from the Yale School of Drama, writes with a ripe lyricism. The richness of his language, which often finds pungent poetry in the African-American vernacular, inevitably brings to mind the work of August Wilson." The New Yorker writes, "The 32-year-old playwright's talent is immense...He traffics in lush images and plots that are as mysterious and surprising as forced flowers blossoming in winter...Gardley is an interesting heir to García Lorca, Pirandello, and Tennessee Williams."
The House that will not Stand was commissioned by Berkeley Rep and developed in The Ground Floor: Berkeley Rep's Center for the Creation and Development of New Work. A co-production with Yale Repertory Theatre, the production plays the intimate Thrust Stage before moving to its New Haven venue in April 2014.