Geva's 47th Season Continues With THE NICETIES By Eleanor Burgess
Zoe, a driven black student, and respected white professor Janine meet to discuss a paper Zoe is writing about the American Revolution. Polite conversation of grammar and Google quickly becomes a powder keg of race, history, and power, from which neither woman will leave unscathed. An explosive and provocative nail-biter.
Eleanor Burgess' plays have been produced at Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre Center, Huntington Theatre Company, the Alliance Theatre, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, the Contemporary American Theatre Festival, Portland Stage Company, and Centenary Stage, and developed with The New Group, New York Theatre Workshop, Ensemble Studio Theatre, Salt Lake Acting Company, the Lark Play Development Center, and the Kennedy Center/NNPN MFA Playwrights Workshop.
In November 2015, students at Yale University filled the campus courtyards in protest, prompting a tense national debate about free speech, racial insensitivity and cultural appropriation. These protests initiated a domino effect at other colleges and universities, making news headlines and engaging the general public in the conflict between a divided administrative and student body. The event that instigated the turmoil occurred a few days before Halloween when the university's Intercultural Affairs Committee sent an email to the student body urging them not to wear costumes that were "culturally unaware and insensitive." Yale Lecturer Erika Christakis took issue with the committee's email and took it upon herself to send one of her own, encouraging students to wear what they like and accusing academic administrations of deliberate censorship and of becoming too prohibitive. Christakis' response outraged many students, who took to social media and public protests to express their disappointment, demanding that colleges be more proactive about supporting minority students and providing better mental health resources. The controversy, and the scale to which it grew, did not escape the attention of playwright Eleanor Burgess, a graduate of Yale University herself. Eleanor credits the Halloween email controversy and the subsequent response as being the impetus for writing The Niceties. The Niceties premiered at the Huntington Theatre in 2018.
Making their Geva debuts in The Niceties are Jordan Baker as Janine Bosko and Cindy De La Cruz as Zoe Reed. Jordan Baker's Broadway credits include Suddenly, Last Summer (Theatre World Award). Off-Broadway credits include Three Tall Women (Original Cast, 1994 Pulitzer Prize). Regional credits include Native Gardens at Denver Center; Luna Gale at Goodman Theatre and LATC; Appropriate at the Humana Festival; The Normal Heart at A.C.T.; Death of a Salesman at The Old Globe (directed by Pam McKinnon); and The Philadelphia Story at the Royal Exchange/England. Film credits include The Post, Land of Steady Habits, Five Flights Up, The David Dance, Paparazzi, Another Earth (Sundance/Alfred P. Sloan Award), The Out of Towners and City Hall. Television credits include The Americans; Bull; FBI: Most Wanted; Madame Secretary; The Good Wife; Blue Bloods; New Adventures of Old Christine; Ugly Betty and Buffy, The Vampire Slayer. Cindy De La Cruz is a NYC native and her recent credits include DreamHou$e at ArsNova; Storm Still at the Sheen Center; Our Town at Olney Theater Center; Stupid F**king Bird at Arden Theater and Urbanite Theatre; Joe Turner's Come and Gone at American Stage; and Dearly Departed at WestCoast Black Theatre Troupe. TV credits include The Village (NBC); Blue Bloods (CBS). Film credits include Kilroy Was Here (Dir. Kevin Smith).
The Niceties is directed by Nicole A. Watson. Nicole is the associate artistic director at Round House Theatre as well as a freelance director and educator. She is an associate artist at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park, a New Georges affiliated artist, an alum of the Women's Project Lab, the Drama League, and a member of the SDC. As a director she has worked at the O'Neill Theater Center, Baltimore Center Stage, Playmakers Rep, Theater Latte Da, Asolo Rep, the New Black Fest, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New Georges, Working Theatre, the Lark, New Dramatists, and the 52nd Street Project. As an educator she has worked at the University of Maryland College Park, NYU, North Carolina School of the Arts, Smith College, Two River Theater, Long Island University, and ACT in San Francisco. Recent credits include School Girls; Or, The African Mean Girls Play; A Doll's House Part 2; Sweat; and Skeleton Crew. Her interest is in new plays, especially those that interrogate history and amplify the narratives of those who have been ignored or misrepresented.
The creative team for The Niceties includes Mariana Sanchez (scenic design), Casey McNamara (costume design), Emily Stork (lighting design), Sinan Refik Zafar (sound design), Adriano Gatto (fight choreographer) and Francisca Da Silviera (dramaturg).
The 2019-2020 Season is sponsored by ESL Federal Credit Union. The Honorary Season Producer is Dr. Dawn Lipson. The Niceties is produced with support from Media Sponsors WXXI and WDKX 103.9.
The Niceties begins previews on October 22, opens October 26 and runs through November 17.