Mixed Blood Theatre's Next Production Opens 4/17

Centering on the lives of four strippers, and propelled by the poetry and athleticism of live pole dancing, PUSSY VALLEY is a profound exploration of the African American, white, gay, straight, young, and old denizens of a strip club in contemporary rural Mississippi. Embedded in a world of poverty, abuse, power imbalances, racism, jealousy, homophobia, abandonment, and sexploitation, this searing drama reveals resilient women in pursuit of happiness, stability, motherhood, independence, a decent living, and romance, always battling for personal integrity.

Playwright Katori Hall, the first African American to win the prestigious Olivier Award for her play THE MOUNTAINTOP, and one of few African American women playwrights to be produced on Broadway, is one of the most significant voices in contemporary American drama. Upon awarding Hall the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for her play HURT VILLAGE, the judges' statement deemed her "a voice for the disenfranchised of America." Nowhere is this more evident than in this newest work, which Mixed Blood Theatre is honored to World Premiere and share with Twin Cities audiences.

Artistic Director Jack Reuler: "Mixed Blood's birthright mantra has been 'dedicated to the spirit of Dr. King's dream.' I became truly enamored of Katori Hall when I read her script, THE MOUNTAINTOP, in 2009, a play about the final evening of Martin Luther King, Jr.'s life, that went on to define her well-deserved recognition in London, on Broadway, and across America. PUSSY VALLEY is an embodiment of Mixed Blood's mission- people with difference (gender, race, disability, class, and more) coming together and, despite circumstance, finding dignity in their own universe. Our mission - promoting individual equality through artistic excellence - matches Katori's world view in general and this play in particular in spectacular and theatrical ways."

Playwright Katori Hall: "PUSSY VALLEY is an unflinching, unapologetic and gritty look at the lives of four pole dancers working down in the Dirty Delta. Set in an infamous "shake junt" called the Pink Pony, the play is an intimate window into the southern strip club world. For each of these women, a choice has been made. For some it's a step down, for others a step up as the Pink Pony stage constantly shape-shifts from a platform for freedom into a gilded cage. Who will burn out? Who can last under the bright lights? Who will fall and who will fly? I'm honored to be premiering this hard-hitting work at Mixed Blood."

Director Nataki Garrett: "A raw, raucous and unflinching peek into the world of southern strip and pole, Katori Hall's powerful new play inverts the status quo, upending our point of view while shining a light on the dynamics of class, privilege, power, choice and mobility. PUSSY VALLEY uses our perception and prejudice as a way to lure us beyond our comfort zone and into this titillating, sexy, and skilled world of prowess and the feminine mystique."

The talented cast includes Ansa Akyea, Nicco Annan, James Craven, Jasmine Hughes, Megan Rippey, Mikell Sapp, Tatiana Williams, Joetta Wright, and Dustin Bronson. The design team includes Joseph Stanley (scenic), Trevor Bowen (costumes), Michael Murnane (lighting), and Abbee Warmboe (props). Alina Rae, head of Expertease Fitness, choreographs.

Photo by Rich Ryan

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