ARE YOU NOW, OR HAVE YOU EVER BEEN... Regional Premiere Announced At Stage West
On March 21, 1953, Langston Hughes, celebrated as the Poet Laureate of Harlem, received a summons to appear before the Senate Permanent Sub Committee on Investigations on Un-American Activities, and went to Washington to be questioned by Joseph McCarthy and the rest of his committee. Playwright Carlyle Brown has used this historical incident to create a lyrical and thought-provoking piece centered around the hours before his appearance, and of the appearance itself, in Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been..., which will begin a 4-week regional premiere run at Stage West on Thursday, February 14.
Langston Hughes has been up all night, trying to work on a poem, but the words just aren't coming together. He's distracted by the prospect of his coming testimony at the hearings, which are likely to be unpleasant and may irrevocably alter his life as an artist. How can he explain his writing to politicians? As he struggles to write, he reflects on how he came to be a poet, about the circumstances and people which have influenced his writing-and also the passion which infuses it. Can they possibly understand? And then the time has arrived; he finds himself before the Committee, trying to explain his works, and to provide a context to buttoned-up legal minds with no imagination or interest in the perspective of a black artist. It's a frightening visit to a dark time in our history, and a reminder of just how easy it might be for us to find ourselves back there again.
Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been... will be directed by vickie washington [sic], whose credits include direction of the world premiere of Jonathan Norton's Mississippi Goddam. The cast features Djoré Nance, a standout as the preacher in Stage West's Bootycandy, as Hughes, with Christopher Dontrell Piper, who appeared as Ace in Stage West's The Royal Society of Antarctica, as his attorney Frank Reeves. Voiceover portrayals will be handled by Bradley Campbell as Sen. Everett Dirksen, Bob Hess as Sen. Joseph McCarthy, Blake McNamara as Roy Cohn, and Justin Locklear as David Schine.
Set design is by Stage West Technical Director L. W. Miller, with lighting design by Aaron Johansen, costume design by Laurie Land, sound design by Kat Fahrenthold, video projections by H. Bart McGeehon, and props/set decor by Lynn Lovett.
Are You Now, or Have You Ever Been... will preview Thursday, February 14 at 7:30 and Friday, February 15 at 8:00, and will run through Sunday, March 10. NOTE: on Thursday the 14th, there will be a Valentine's Day Special-patrons may see the show and enjoy a glass of prosecco and a slice of Three Danes cake for $30!
Performance times will be Thursday evenings at 7:30, Friday and Saturday evenings at 8:00, with Sunday matinees at 3:00. Ticket prices range from $31 to $35, with discounts for the preview performance, and for students, seniors, and military. Food service is available 90 minutes prior to performances (reservations are advised). Reservations and information are available through the Box Office (817-784-9378), or on the website, www.stagewest.org.