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Berkshire Playwrights Lab Presents SOME OLD BLACK MAN

The performance will be followed by a live conversation on YouTube with the actors, the playwright and director Joe  Cacaci.

Berkshire Playwrights Lab and the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center will co-present a YouTube screening of James Anthony Tyler's Some Old Black Man, starring Wendell Pierce and Charlie Robinson, on Saturday, April 24 at 3pm. The performance will be followed by a live conversation on YouTube with the actors, the playwright and director Joe Cacaci. The production is made available through the University Musical Society (UMS), in Ann Arbor, Mich.

Some Old Black Man was first produced by Berkshire Playwrights Lab in 2015 as a staged reading at the Mahaiwe. In 2017 BPL gave the play a full production at St. James Place, which was subsequently staged at 59E59 Theaters in New York City in 2018. The Guardian acclaimed the UMS-filmed version of the play as "a riveting drama, not only about all that is left unsaid in families, but also the intergenerational experiences of racism in America." In another summary of the play, The New York Times called Wendell Pierce "one of the greatest actors of his generation."

In Some Old Black Man, Calvin Jones (Wendell Pierce), a hip, coolly intellectual African American college professor, moves his 82-year-old ailing but doggedly independent father, Donald Jones (Charlie Robinson), from Greenwald, Miss., into his Harlem penthouse.

The play begins with an argument over what to eat for breakfast, then turns into a generational clash over race, opportunity, and a decision that Calvin made years ago. Donald's grumpiness is peppered with disturbing outbursts, revealing bits of his past, informed by growing up Black and poor in the South. Donald believes that he isn't seen by his gifted, accomplished son as being good enough, and Calvin resents Donald for being a self-righteous, relentlessly tough parent. Father-son strife escalates when their generational conflict is lensed through civil rights.

"This play bridges stage to screen with wonderful performances, wit, and family dilemmas that feel familiar and poignant," says Mahaiwe Executive Director Janis Martinson. "We are pleased to bring Some Old Black Man back to Mahaiwe audiences in this beautifully-realized incarnation."

"Some Old Black Man manages to be both timely and timeless, speaking with urgency and eloquence to how we live today," say Berkshire Playwrights Lab Co-Artistic Directors Richard Dresser and Felicia Harden in a joint statement. "The adaptation to the screen of this intimate

play is seamless and the performances are extraordinary. This not-to-be-missed work speaks to the very best of what we do at Berkshire Playwrights Lab."

University Musical Society's digital theater production is the first of its kind for this powerful work. The creative team quarantined and rehearsed in Ann Arbor for three weeks in fall 2020, subsequently filming in Detroit under strict coronavirus safety protocols.

The event is free but requires registration at either mahaiwe.org or berkshireplaywrightslab.org. Registrants will receive YouTube links for the play and post-show conversation.


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