Photo Flash: TheatreWorks Presents CLEMENTINE IN THE LOWER 9
TheatreWorks, the nationally acclaimed theatre of Silicon Valley, presents the world premiere of CLEMENTINE IN THE LOWER 9, a blues-fueled new play by Dan Dietz with music by Justin Ellington, who will also be the Musical Director for this production. The soulful sounds of an onstage jazz band accompany the tough, but loyal nurse Clementine, her son Reginald, and her unpredictable musician husband Jaffy as they struggle to reconnect the electricity, the plumbing, and the relationships devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Helmed by Obie Award-winning director Leah C. Gardiner, CLEMENTINE plays October 5-30, 2011 (Press night October 8) at the Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts. For tickets ($19-$69), call (650) 463-1960 or visit theatreworks.org. Contains brief nudity and mature language.
Surrounded by water-logged photos of old relatives, broken furniture, and a perfectly tuned piano, Clementine is relieved when Reginald returns from a year at college to what's left of their family home. Together they wait for the third remaining member of the family, Jaffy, who hasn't been able to come back to New Orleans since he was evacuated to Houston. Clementine's unwavering faith in "Laughing Jaffy" is almost enough to convince her skeptical son that this time his father will pull through with a plan--at least until Jaffy brings home a drugged-out prophetess he found in an alley. Told with cutting humor and relentless honesty, CLEMENTINE pits a closetful of family skeletons against an unthinkable national tragedy, testing the limits of forgiveness and redemption.
Dan Dietz (Author) has written several plays, including tempOdyssey, which received a rolling world premiere from the National New Play Network, opening at Studio Theatre and Curious Theatre in 2006 and continuing on to four other regional theatres in 2007. His work has been commissioned by TheatreWorks, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and Guthrie Theater. Mr. Dietz's plays have been developed and presented at The Public Theater, Kennedy Center, the Humana Festival, Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, Bay Area Playwrights Festival, PlayPenn, the Playwrights' Center and the Lark Play Development Center. Mr. Dietz has been an NEA/TCG Theatre Residency recipient, a Jerome Fellow, and a James A. Michener Fellow, and has twice been a recipient of the Heideman Award. Dietz holds an MFA in Playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin.
Justin Ellington (Music) is a composer/producer based in Brooklyn, New York by way of Atlanta Georgia. His first opportunity to work in the recording industry came when he was introduced to Sam Sneed, a member of Dr. Dre's production team. In 2004, Ellington joined the Grammy Award-winning production company Bangladesh, which has produced hit records from Beyonce, Lil Wayne, Ciara, Ludacris, and many others. He has also worked as the Musical Director of the Freddie Hendricks Youth Ensemble of Atlanta, where he directed future Broadway stars Sahr Nguajah (Fela) and Saycon Sengbloh (Wicked, Hair, Fela), and film and TV actor Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live).
Leah C. Gardiner (Director) directed the national tour of Wit (Kennedy Center, Ordway, among others) and received a 2011 Obie Award for born bad (American premiere, Soho Repertory). Nationally, she has directed Othello (Houston Shakespeare Festival); Blue Door (world premiere and Pulitzer Prize finalist, South Coast Repertory); Bulrusher (world premiere and Pulitzer Prize finalist, Urban Stages; Bay Area production at Shotgun Players); Fences (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); Topdog/Underdog (Philadelphia Theatre Company); Birdie Blue (City Theatre); Orange Flower Water (world premiere, Contemporary American Theatre Festival); The Flag Maker of Market Street (world premiere, Alabama Shakespeare Festival); Streetcar Named Desire (Pillsbury House Theatre); Angels in America, and Parts I and II (Connecticut Repertory Theatre). She will direct the U.S. premiere of Sucker Punch at Studio Theatre this fall. Ms. Gardiner holds an M.F.A. in Directing from the Yale School of Drama.
TheatreWorks welcomes back Laiona Michelle as "Clementine" and Jayne Deely as "Cassy," as well as TheatreWorks newcomers Matt Jones as "Reginald," Jack Koenig as "Jaffy," and Kenny Brawner as "Chorus."
Michelle was last seen at TheatreWorks as the lead in Intimate Apparel. Some of her regional theatre credits include Shakespeare Theatre Company, Syracuse Theatre Company, Virginia Stage Company, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, and Delaware Theatre Company. Deely has been seen at TheatreWorks in A Civil War Christmas and Distracted, and around the Bay Area in roles at Aurora Theatre Company, Magic Theatre, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, California Shakespeare Theatre, and Marin Shakespeare Company.
Bay Area local Jones makes his TheatreWorks debut, having been seen in roles at African American Shakespeare Company and Word for Word Theatre Company. Koeing has performed in off-Broadway productions of Taming of the Shrew and Incident at Vichy and starring roles in regional productions of Macbeth, Private Lives, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and The Importance of Being Ernest. Brawner is a keyboardist, vocalist, composer, and leader of The Brawner Brothers Band, a Harlem-based dynamic jazz-funk group that infuses blues, R&B, and Latin elements into its extensive repertoire. Brawner has performed live onstage with the prestigious Alvin Ailey Dance Theater in its acclaimed Blues Suite. The New York Times said of his performance, "The sound of Mr. Brawner singing is the stuff of an immediate good mood."
With nearly 8,500 subscribers and 100,000 patrons per year, TheatreWorks has captured a national reputation for artistic innovation and integrity, often presenting Bay Area theatregoers with their first look at acclaimed musicals, comedies, and dramas, directed by award-winning local and guest directors, and performed by professional actors cast from across the country. A home for artists developing new works, it was at TheatreWorks that Memphis, the 2010 Tony Award-winning musical (now playing its second year on Broadway, recently released as a feature film, and starting a National Tour in Fall 2011) was first workshopped and received its world premiere.
TICKETS: $19 (student)-$69; savings available for students, educators, seniors, and members.
A $4 convenience fee will be assessed for online and telephone orders.
INFO: For information or to order tickets call (650) 463-1960 or visit theatreworks.org.
Photo credit: Tracy Martin
Kenny Brawner, Laiona Michelle, and
Laiona Michelle, Jack Koenig
Laiona Michelle and Jack Koenig