Photo Flash: People's Light Presents Dominique Morisseau's MUD ROW

By: Jun. 27, 2019
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People's Light presents Mud Row, a world premiere play by recent Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau (Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations). Two generations of sisters navigate class, race, love, and family on "Mud Row," an area in the East End of West Chester, Pennsylvania. Elsie hopes to move up in the world by marrying into "the talented tenth," while her sister Frances joins the fight for Civil Rights. Decades later, estranged sisters Regine and Toshi are forced to reckon with their shared heritage, and each other, when Regine inherits granny Elsie's house. In this funny, heart-wrenching, and ultimately hopeful comedy-drama, Morisseau deftly shifts between past and present West Chester to paint a living portrait of family legacy.

This World Premiere runs June 26-July 28. Opening Night is Sunday, June 30 at 7 p.m. Tickets start at $35, including fees. To purchase, call 610.644.3500 or visit People's Light is located at 39 Conestoga Road, Malvern, PA 19355. Mud Row is sponsored by West Chester LLC.

Mud Row is the second production to emerge from the New Play Frontiers (NPF) Residency & Commission Program at People's Light. Through NPF, the Malvern theatre invites nationally renowned playwrights to Greater Philadelphia to immerse themselves in neighboring communities, in collaboration with partner organizations, and develop new plays that explore American identity through the stories and concerns of our region. "People's Light stands at a unique crossroads of rural, urban, and suburban populations," says People's Light Producing Director Zak Berkman. "Through our New Play Frontiers program, our theatre seeks to better represent, reflect, and respond to the diverse communities in this distinctive part of our country."

Dominique Morisseau - now a Tony Award nominee, MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow, and one of the most sought-after voices in American theatre - was among the first group of NPF writers commissioned in 2012. During her initial research, Morisseau was inspired by the people and places surrounding the Charles A. Melton Arts & Education Center, a community beacon that has served generations of West Chester, PA residents. As Morisseau developed Mud Row, the Melton Center's staff, board, and community stakeholders served as her gateway to the layered realities of the town's East End, where the Center is based. "It is always encouraging to be in the presence of the people who call the Melton Center home," she says. "Their hearts move with the passion of people who are excited about building up the next generation. Our conversations served as much background food for Mud Row.

"I remember an area by a railroad ... sort of a swampy area, and I was told in passing, 'Oh yeah, they call that Mud Row.' That was my entry point," Morisseau explains. "I've made a fictional story that's a fusion of my own family history and oral histories of what I heard from the people that live in West Chester. I imagined those grandchildren, these young people today, [who inherit] these homes. I thought about how African American communities are set up, how things are passed down, sustained, or deconstructed, or gentrified externally and internally. For me, now, this play has also become about family and what ties bind us, regardless

Photo Credit: Mark Garvin