Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND

The Artistic Home will open its 2017-18 season with a lesser known, but wholly timely piece: WEDDING BAND: A LOVE/HATE STORY IN BLACK AND WHITE, by eminent African-American playwright and author Alice Childress. It opened to the press on Sunday, October 29 and will run through December 17, 2017. Last seen in Chicago in 2003 in a co-production between Steppenwolf and Congo Square Theatre, its first-ever showing here thirty years prior was but one stop in this play's march toward due recognition.

Childress made her name as a playwright unafraid to explore the ugly realties of race, but even so, WEDDING BAND's starkly explicit depiction of an interracial relationship touched a nerve. Despite being established in the New York Theater sphere, Childress was unable to find a company willing to produce it. So, she took the play west, and it premiered at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1966, four years after its completion, and one year before the Supreme Court's landmark ruling on Loving v. Virginia struck down statutes forbidding interracial marriage. Then, after a six-week engagement in Chicago at the Ivanhoe Theater in 1972, the play returned to New York at Joseph Papp's Public Theater, in a run starring Ruby Dee and James Broderick. The obstacles surrounding the piece didn't stop there. Though it was filmed for broadcast on ABC TV, some affiliates refused to air it; other affiliates simply buried it in a late-night "graveyard" slot.

Childress's drama is set in the summer of 1918. There is a war in Europe, and a smaller war in South Carolina. Julia is an African-American seamstress and Herman is a white German-American baker who has kept company with her for 10 years. Disapproval of their affair from neighbors and family, as well as South Carolina's laws prohibiting interracial marriage makes it increasingly hard tor them to stay together.

WEDDING BAND is directed by Cecilie Keenan, director and producer of many Chicago theaters over the past 20 years, but perhaps best known for her work with Teatro Vista, American Blues and Apple Tree Theaters.

She says, "While we're more likely to think of Lorraine Hansberry as the pioneer among black female playwrights, I believe Alice Childress was at least as important. She isn't as well-known as Hansberry because she didn't get the attention at the time -- her plays were too realistic and uncompromising for audiences of the era. She was ahead of her time, really."

Artistic Director Kathy Scambiatterra says, "We've been interested in producing WEDDING BAND ever since we did Childress's TROUBLE IN MIND back in 2011. We're excited to bring WEDDING BAND back to Chicago and introduce new audiences to it."

In the roles of the inter-racial couple are Raina Lynn as Julia and ensemble member Scott Westerman as Herman. Keenan's cast will also include ensemble members Reid Coker (Bell Man) and Laura Coleman (Annabelle) along with visiting artists Susan P. Anderson (Fanny), Maya Hooks (Teeta), Lisa McConnell (Lula), Donna McGough (Herman's mother), Madison Murphy (Princess), Myesha-Tiara (Mattie), and Kevin Patterson. (Nelson). The design team includes Kevin Rolfs (scenic design), Zach Wagner (costume design), E.J. Jackson (lighting design), Joseph Cerqua (original music), Zach Berinstein (sound designer). Madeleine Lyons is stage manager.
Reviewing WEDDING BAND in 1972, The New York Times's Clive Barnes described the "poignant strength" of Childress's characters and their plight. Re-reviewing it for its television broadcast, the same paper's John J. O'Connor called it "a marvelous, exquisitely detailed period portrait, a complex blend of searing realism and poetic lyricism." For its most recent professional production in 2016 at Seattle's Intiman Theatre, the Seattle Times called it "stunningly, immediately real," while Seattle Weekly called it "an unforgettable piece of theatre."

The production is playing at The Artistic Home's theatre at 1376 W. Grand Avenue through December 17. Tickets on sale now and may be purchased by phone at 866/811-4111 or online at http://www.theartistichome.org/. Performances are Thursdays at 7:30 pm, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 pm, and Sundays at 3 pm.

high res photos

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
Raina Lynn, Scott Westerman

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
Raina Lynn

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
L-R: Raina Lynn, Susan P. Anthony, Myesha-Tiara

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
L-R: Kevin Patterson, Raina Lynn, Lisa McConnell; Myesha-Tiara

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
(Left-right) Raina Lynn, Madison Murphy, Reid Coker, Maya Hooks

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
(Left-right) Maya Hooks, Myesha-Tiara; Photo 7 - Raina Lynn, Scott Westerman

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
L-R: Kevin Patterson, Raina Lynn, Lisa McConnell; Myesha-Tiara

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
(Left-right) Raina Lynn, Madison Murphy, Reid Coker, Maya Hooks

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
(Left-right) Maya Hooks, Myesha-Tiara; Photo 7 - Raina Lynn, Scott Westerman

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
Raina Lynn, Scott Westerman

Photo Flash: The Artistic Home presents WEDDING BAND
Raina Lynn, Scott Westerman



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