Long Wharf Theatre to Present Dael Orlandersmith's FOREVER, Beginning 1/2
Harlem, Pe?re Lachaise Cemetery, rock 'n' roll, Jim Morrison, Richard Wright, poetry and ghosts. Celebrated playwright/performer Dael Orlandersmith returns to Long Wharf Theatre for a limited world premiere run of her newest play, Forever. Forever is a riveting and masterful piece about family -- the ones we were born into, the ones we create for ourselves -- and the legacies that shape us all.
Forever is Dael's fourth piece produced by Long Wharf Theatre. Orlandersmith had previous written and appeared in The Gimmick, Yellowman, and The Blue Album at Long Wharf Theatre. "Dael Orlandersmith has been an important part of Long Wharf Theatre's theatrical legacy for two decades. She is one of the most unflinching, honest and powerful voices in the American theatre. She returns to us with her most powerful piece yet," Edelstein said.
Orlandersmith was inspired to write the piece after a visit to Pere Lechaise Cemetary in Paris, a special place to her. She makes a point to wander amidst the graves of both the famous -- Jim Morrison, Oscar Wilde, and Chopin, among others -- and the ordinary each time she visits the city. Upon viewing a documentary about the cemetery, she was inspired to adapt the film and take on one of the roles herself. "I never have a shortage of things to write," she said.
A conversation with director Neel Keller, who had commissioned her to create a new piece, steered her in a different direction. "What got you into art, he asked me. Myself, I said, I don't know. Then I thought, the books we had in our house. In a weird way, my mom did. He said, 'Write that story,'" Orlandersmith recalled.
Inspired by a wide array of films, music, and books Orlandersmith carefully shaped a memoir. Forever received several workshops before premiering at the Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles. "It's a theatrical experience with my own impressions and thoughts," she said.
Part life story, part imagination, in Forever Orlandersmith creates a character that goes through the often painful process of self-determination, forging her identity through poetry, music, and art. "I often write about people having to invent themselves. People who have to reinvent themselves. People who have to parent themselves and be their own person. The outsider people," she said. "I want to convey a truth. I hope I've given people permission to be uncomfortable and comfortable. I hope I've told them an interesting story and I hope I've told it well."
DAEL ORLANDERSMITH (Playwright/ Performer). Dael Orlandersmith's awardwinning plays have been commissioned and presented by theatres across the U.S. Her plays include Stoop Stories (world premiere, Washington, D.C.'s Studio Theatre, 2009, also presented at CTG/Kirk Douglas Theatre, The Public Theater's Under the Radar Festival and Apollo Theater's Salon Series); Black n' Blue Boys/Broken Men (world premiere, Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2012, co-commission with Goodman Theatre and BRT); Horsedreams (world premiere, Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre, 2011, developed by New Dramatists and New York Stage and Film); Bones (world premiere, KDT, 2010, commissioned by Center Theatre Group); The Blue Album (world premiere, Long Wharf Theatre, 2007, in collaboration with David Cale); Yellowman (world premiere, McCarter Theatre, 2002, co-production with The Wilma Theater; Pulitzer Prize finalist; Drama Desk Award nominee, Outstanding Play, Outstanding Actress); The Gimmick (world premiere, McCarter Theatre, 1998, Susan Blackburn Prize; Long Wharf Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop); Monster (world premiere, New York Theatre Workshop,1996); Beauty's Daughter (world premiere, American Place Theatre, 1995; Obie Award). Currently, she is working on Lady in Denmark (Goodman Theatre commission) and Antonio's Song/I was dreaming of a Son. Orlandersmith has toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (Real Live Poetry) throughout the United States, Europe and Australia. Yellowman and a collection of her earlier works have been published by Vintage Books and Dramatists Play Service. She attended Sundance Institute Theatre Lab for four summers and is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Grant, The Helen Merrill Award for Emerging Playwrights, a Guggenheim and the 2005 PEN/Laura Pels Foundation Award for a playwright in mid-career and a Lucille Lortel Foundation Playwrights Fellowship.