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WINE IN THE WILDERNESS by Alice Childress this March


In Her Shoulders is pleased to present a staged reading of Wine In The Wilderness by Alice Childress, directed by Bianca LaVerne Jones on Friday, March 15, 2019. Doors open at 6:45pm for a 7:00pm start with The Play in Context by Arminda Thomas, who situates the script in its historical time and place, followed by the reading and a post-performance Q&A with refreshments. Admission is by Donation ($10 suggested).The performance is at The New School, Starr Foundation Hall, 63 Fifth Avenue, Room UL102. R.S.V.P. to

Alice Childress (1916-1994) was a pioneering writer and actress whose award-winning plays and novels were praised for their insightful, compassionate portrayal of realistic characters in difficult situations. With frank language addressing complicated subjects such as racism, sexism, miscegenation, urban poverty, and drug addiction, Childress' work raised awareness of social issues and was often controversial. She was born in Charleston, South Carolina, then moved to Harlem in 1925 to be raised by her grandmother, who encouraged her to write. In 1939, she enrolled in the School of Drama operated by the American Negro Theater. She performed with ANT until it closed in 1949, including in the ground-breaking Anna Lucasta which transferred to Broadway for a two-year run before touring internationally. Childress received a Tony award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.

Childress wrote, directed, and starred in her first play Florence in 1949, which reflected many of the themes that are characteristic of her later writing, including the empowerment of black women, interracial politics, and working-class life. This was followed by Gold Through the Trees, which, in 1952, became the first play written by an African-American woman to be professionally produced in New York. Her first full-length dramatic play,Trouble in Mind was produced at Greenwich Mews Theatre in 1955, running for 91 performances and winning the Obie Award for Best Play, making Childress the first woman to be so honored.

Set in Harlem during the summer of 1964 during the night of a riot, Wine in the Wilderness explores the perceptions of the Black community from within the Black community. In the play, Childress makes the point that the intersections of "sexism, racism, and classism are immutably connected to black women's oppression." She portrays "Tommy" the lower class, undereducated heroine of Wine in the Wilderness as the true Africentrist, proud of blacks and her blackness. She stands in stark contrast to the bourgeois intellectuals who had claimed the mantle of "authenticity" in regard to who is allowed to represent the Black race and controlled the definition of "black womanhood" in order to serve their own self-reflections. In the end, "Tommy" successfully flips that narrative and brings about the opportunity for healing of these divisions within the community. Wine in the Wilderness was first performed in 1969 on WGBH-TV in Boston as part of the series, "On Being Black."

Bianca LaVerne Jones (Director) is a North Carolina born, New York based director. Her NY/US credits include: ARMED by James Anthony Tyler (Amoralist Theater Company); LAMDA Showcase (Playwrights Horizon). Development Director: LOOKING THROUGH THE STAINED GLASS WINDOW by Evie Rhodes (Playroom Theater). Associate Director: A SMALL OAK TREE RUNS RED by LaKeithia Dalcoe (Billie Holiday Theater) directed by Harry Lennix (Blacklist) Assistant Director: (Spring 2019) BLKS by Aziza Barnes directed by Robert O'Hara (MCC); THE FIRST NOEL (Classical Theater of Harlem, Apollo Theater) directed by Steve Broadnax, co-written by Jason Michael Webb and Lelund Durond. Film: MOTHER'S MILK by Larry Powell; UNDERCOVER SIDECHICK by Cherie Danielle. London credits include: Devised work; ALL THE OTHER KIDS WITH THE PUMPED UP KICKS; CLASS by Gloria Marshall Brown at (Katzspace, London Bridge); PARTNERS by Dorothy Fortenberry(Carne Theater); Assistant Director to Adam Penford, Artistic Director of Nottingham Theater for LAMDA Showcase (Ambassador Theater, West End). Assistant Director: Twelfth Night, The Sea by Edward Bond and Cherry Orchard. North Carolina School of the Arts (Diploma), SUNY Purchase Acting Conservatory (BFA), (LAMDA, MA in Directing). Awarded Best Direction by DC Black Theater Festival for Best One Act Play.

ARMINDA THOMAS (Dramaturg) is pleased to return to New Perspectives' On Her Shoulders program, where she previously served as director for Peculiar Sam by Pauline Hopkins and dramaturg for Soul Struggle: The Works of Georgia Douglass Johnson. Other recent credits include Baton (Premiere Stage); Jazz (Baltimore Center Stage); Zora Neale Hurston (New Federal Theatre); and The First Noel (Classical Theatre of Harlem). Writing/adaptation credits include Shakespeare's Women (Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis). She is associate artistic director and resident dramaturg for the Going to the River Festival and Writer's Unit and holds an MFA in dramaturgy and script development from Columbia University.

ON HER SHOULDERS was founded in 2013 to present rehearsed, staged readings of plays by women from across the spectrum of time, with contemporary dramaturgs contextualizing them for modern audiences. The program was incorporated into New Perspectives' Women's Work Project in 2014 and continues to strive to make it impossible for producers and theatre companies to deny or ignore the 1,000-year history and value of women's contribution to the theatrical canon. To date the program has presented 47 plays by 37 writers from the years ca 965 to 1970. OHS is produced by Melissa Attebery and Melody Brooks. Kristin Heckler is Associate Producer.

NEW PERSPECTIVES THEATRE COMPANY (NPTC) is an award-winning, multi-racial company performing for the last 27 years in Midtown Manhattan, communities throughout NYC, and as of 2015, internationally. The Company's mission is to develop and produce new plays and playwrights, especially women and people of color; to present classic plays in a style that addresses contemporary issues; and to extend the benefits of theatre to young people and communities in need. Our aim is not to exclude, but to cast a wider net.

THE SCHOOL OF DRAMA at the NEW SCHOOL: The creative home for the future of performing arts. Agile. Engaged. Innovative. Multi-disciplinary. The New School for Drama is home to a dynamic group of young directors, writers, actors, creative technologists, and award-winning faculty. With a core belief in rigorous creativity and collaborative learning, our programs embrace civic awareness across performance disciplines to create work imbued with professionalism, imagination and social context. For more information, please visit

The Play in Context, the dramaturgical and scholarly presentation component to the program, is sponsored in part by the League of Professional Theatre Women, a non-profit organization promoting visibility and increasing opportunities for women in theatre since 1982.

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