UCSB Department Of Theater And Dance Presents THE WATSONS GO TO BIRMINGHAM, 1963
UCSB's Department of Theater and Dance presents a LAUNCH PAD preview production of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 from February 14th to 24th in the Performing Arts Theater. Based on the book by Christopher Paul Curtis and adapted for the stage by Cheryl L. West, The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 is a story of family, love, and perseverance. The play centers on a buoyant, loving Michigan family of five traveling south to Alabama during the turbulent summer of 1963, a time of racially motivated upheaval and civil unrest. Ten-year-old Kenny is conflicted about this family vacation, but as his world expands, Kenny learns he's more courageous than he ever thought himself capable.
LAUNCH PAD is proud to create a unique play development process that is allowing Cheryl L. West, and thirteen playwrights before her, to develop her play in an environment that encourages evolution, creativity, and collaboration. In order to fully prepare for a play's introduction to the public in UCSB's Performing Arts Theater, LAUNCH PAD gives emerging playwrights the opportunity to work with professionals at UCSB, aspiring student actors, as well as experienced actors to create a fully realized production. LAUNCH PAD was created by Risa Brainin in 2005, who remains as the Artistic Director of the program and is directing the production, ever committed to giving talented playwrights the opportunity to develop their plays in a unique and exciting way.
The novel The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 was and still is recognized as a revolutionary and endearing piece of literature, receiving the distinguished John Newbery Award. The award is granted once a year by the Association for Library Service for Children (a division of the American Library Association) for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.
The Department of Theater/Dance is delighted to be associated with this brilliant piece of children's literature and its thematically relevant adaptation from accomplished playwright Cheryl L. West. West's plays have been seen in off-Broadway and on Broadway, in both England and America. She has written TV and film projects for Disney, Paramount, MTV Flims, Showtime, TNT, HBO, CBS. Currently, West is working on commissions for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Goodman, Seattle Rep, Seattle Children's Theater, amongst her work here at the University of California Santa Barbara.
To commemorate this production, the department is organizing a symposium Timely Intersections: Black Histories on the Page and Stage that will unite thinkers from performance studies, literary studies, and the field of children's literature to explore the complexities of adapting Black histories to the page and the stage. Considering that both literature and theatre have advanced causes of Black liberation across historical eras and genres, our aim is to think through creative adaptations of Black (hi)stories as both a conduit for social change and a mode of education.
The symposium will welcome many prominent authors and professors including writer of The Watsons Go to Birmingham--1963 Christopher Paul Curtis and the playwright Cheryl L. West, so make sure to mark you calendars for this free event on February 15th at 1 pm in the HSSB McCune Conference Room.
West's play demonstrates the power of relationships, hidden strength, and love while the symposium focuses on the complexities of adapting Black histories to the page and the stage. Don't miss a unique chance to see how art and academia intertwine under the Department of Theater and Dance umbrella.