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CalArts' Coffeehouse Presents' Lori-Parks' IN THE BLOOD, 4/15-4/17


California Institute of the Arts' Coffeehouse Theater presents the Pulitzer Prize nominated play In the Blood, written by Suzan Lori-Parks and directed by Fran Bennett. In this modern day drama, Hester, a homeless mother of five fatherless children, struggles to create a home on the streets for her family. Despite Hester's fierce love for her children, poverty and desperation lead to a tragic end. 

Along with the public, Artistic Directors, Agents, Talent Scouts and artists in the industry are invited to view the next generation of skilled African American actors. The In the Blood ensemble includes, Lauryn Whitney (Hester, La Negrita) MFA 3, André St. Clair Thompson, (Chilli/Jabber) MFA 3, Erskine Ritchie (Reverend D./Baby) MFA 3, Shanna Malcolm (The Welfare Lady/Bully) MFA 2, Christopher Hampton (The Doctor/Trouble) BFA 4, Sola Bamis (Amiga Gringa/Beauty) MFA 2.

In the Blood will be performed at CalArts, Coffeehouse Theater, 24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia CA, 91355. Performance dates are Thursday-Saturday, April 15-17, 2010 at 8:00 p.m. Tickets can be reserved online by e-mailing your request to or by phone at (661)645-5487.

Suzan Lori-Parks (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter. Parks holds degrees from Mount Holyoke College and the Yale School of Drama. She was the first Head of the Writing for Performance Program at CalArts School of Theater. Her plays include, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, Top Dog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize in Drama), Fucking A, The Sinners Place, Devotees in the Garden of Love, Betting on the Dust Commander, Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 Obie Award for Best New American Play), The America Play, Venus (1996 Obie Award), and 365 Plays/365 Days. Her screenplays include Spike Lee's Girl 6, Oprah Winfrey's Their Eyes Were Watching God based on the novel by Zora Neale Hurston (ABC television, 2005) and The Great Debaters directed by and starring Denzel Washington. She has been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Ford Foundation. She received many awards including the 1995 Lila-Wallace Reader's Digest Award, CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts (Drama) and a MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Award in 2001.

Fran Bennett (Director) was Head of Acting/Director of Performance at CalArts School of Theater from 1996-2003. She earned a BS, MA and credit toward a Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and has studied at Central School of Speech and Drama in London. She has taught around the U.S. including University of Minnesota, University of Wisconsin, University of Mississippi, Iowa State University, Carnegie-Mellon, Joe Chakin's The Working Theater, the London Academy of Dramatic Arts in England and the Guthrie Theater. Acting credits include, CalArts Center for New Performance: (Lear) King Lear, (NAACP Theatre Award for Best Female Performance), (Madam Chastity Plum) Chen-Shi-Zheng's production of Peach Blossom Fan. La Compagnia de'Colombari's: (God in Orvieto) Laude in Urbis, Getty Villa: (Nurse) Euripides' Hippolytos. Television Credits include LA Law, In The Heat of The Night, Quantum Leap, Some Kind of Love, Wes Craven's Newest Nightmare, Majority Rules, Crisis Center, Tempting Fate, Early Edition, 8MM, The Next Best Thing, and The Book of Daniel. Fran Bennett is the recipient of the first AEA/AFTRA/SAG Diversity Honor Award.

Sola Bamis (Beauty/Amiga Gringa--MFA 2) recently performed the role of Pecola Breedlove in Lydia Diamond's stage adaptation of Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye at the La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts. Bamis made her Los Angeles debut in the role of Gail in the Robey Theater Company's production of The River Niger. Her CalArts credits include Forgotten World directed by Laurie Carlos, The Overwhelming directed by Ron Cephas Jones and The Lover (Sarah).

Christopher Hampton (Doctor/Trouble--BFA 4) credits include CalArts: Henry V (Captain Fluellen), Dr. Faustus Lights the Lights (Dr. Faustus), Hellzapoppin' (Jeff Hunter), Forgotten World (Father Spirit), Who KillEd Whitey? (Uncle Tom). Theatre of Play: Bomb in the Back Seat, Ligea. The ALLIANCE THEATRE: A Raisin in the Sun, Fly by Night.

Shanna A. Malcolm (Bully/Welfare--MFA 2) was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica. She is a graduate of Wesleyan College where she majored in Psychology, Communications and English Literature. Her credits include CalArts: Funnyhouse of a Negro (Sarah/ Negro), New Works 2009: Making Myth (Actor # 1) and My Penis: An Exhibition (Mommi). The Grassman-Porter Studio Theatre: Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Ernestine), The Vagina Monologues (All Roles) and Big Momma and Em (Big Momma).

Erskine Ritchie (Baby/Reverend D--MFA 3) is a graduate of Howard University. His credits include CalArts: Henry V (Exeter), Piedra de Sol (The Other), Much Ado About Nothing (Don Pedro), Smoke, Lilies and Jade (Wallie), Bonded (Sonny), Leonce & Lena (King Henry). Howard University: Angels in America (Roy Cohn), A Chorus Line (Zach), The Strong Breed (Eman). The Shakespeare Theater Company: Hamlet (Ensemble / Laertes u/s). DC Arts Center: Moon Bitch (Roman). Signature Theater: The Lost Boys of Sudan (T.I. Ollie).

André St. Clair Thompson (Jabber/Chilli--MFA 3) is an interdisciplinary artist: actor, performer, writer, director and producer. Thompson holds a Master of Arts in Performance Studies from New York University/Tisch School of the Arts and an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Sexuality and Society from Brown University. His credits include CalArts: Smoke, Lilies and Jade (Gloria Swanson), The Pragmatists (Masculette), Chipita's Ghost (Lucy), The Overwhelming (Samuel Mizinga/Producer). Stuart Theater: Compleat Female Stage Beauty (Kynaston). Rites & Reason Theater: My Penis (Writer/Performer), Hot Comb (Tiara). Leeds Theater: As Five Years Pass (Servant John & Maid). LaMaMA ETC: Closed Open (Writer/Performer).

Lauryn Whitney (Hester--MFA 3) is a graduate of Howard University in Washington D.C. Her Credits include CalArts: Smoke, Lilies and Jade (Louella Van Jackson / Gladys Bently). Howard University: Richard III (Anne), Angels in America (Harper). UCLA Live: Medea (Chorus). Watts Village Theatre Company: Ochre and Onyx (Nubia). The Dallas Shakespeare Company: Richard III (Lady Anne). The Techno Theater (London): The Tempest (Prospero).

California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), the first U.S. higher educational institution to integrate the visual and performing arts under one roof, is recognized as the nation's leading laboratory for the arts. Housing six schools--Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater--CalArts embraces creative cross-pollination among diverse art forms and traditions, and strongly encourages each artist to pursue his or her vision within a broad context of social and cultural understanding.


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