Stacey Sargeant & More to Star in Bleu Beckford-Burrell's LA RACE at WP Theater

La Race is part of Beckford-Burrell’s The End of the Line Anthology of works intricately dramatizing intersecting lives in Far Rockaway, where Beckford-Burrell grew up.

By: Oct. 26, 2022
Stacey Sargeant & More to Star in Bleu Beckford-Burrell's LA RACE at WP Theater

Page 73 and Working Theater have announced the cast of Bleu Beckford-Burrell's La Race (November 21-December 23 at the McGinn/Cazale Theater at WP Theater-WP Theater, 4th floor, 2162, Broadway, New York). Directed by Taylor Reynolds (Man Cave, Tambo & Bones), La Race's cast includes Auberth Bercy (She Persisted, STEW workshop) as Uriel, Naomi Lorrain (Behind the Sheet, Entangled) as Maxine, Vince Nappo (The Merchant Of Venice, Anatomy of a Suicide) as Grant, Christopher B. Portley (American Prophet: Fredrick Douglass in His Own Words, Blood at the Root) as Trey, Stacey Sargeant (for colored girls..., Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future) as Dejani/Doctor, and Shaunette Renée Wilson (Billions; Upcoming: Indiana Jones 5) as AJ. La Race's creative team includes Arnulfo Maldonado (Set), Sarafina Bush (Costumes), Stacey Derosier and Bailey Costa (Lighting), Germán Martínez (Sound), Sean Sanford (Props), Cookie Jordan (Hair & Wigs), Brittany Coyne (Production Manager), and Ralph Stan Lee (Production Stage Manager).

Building on the sliding scale ticket model launched by Working Theater, and reflecting both organizations' commitment to accessibility for all audiences, there will be six ticket price points for audience members to choose from, including a $0 ticket.

La Race is part of Beckford-Burrell's The End of the Line Anthology of works intricately dramatizing intersecting lives in Far Rockaway, where Beckford-Burrell grew up. From within the vivid specificity of her depiction of place, she examines ubiquitous forces at play throughout America. As La Race traces the relationships of people galvanized-or swept-into political action with biting comedy, tenderness, and rage, its panoramic portrait of a community surrounds a burgeoning grassroots city council campaign led by Maxine, a Black woman in her 30s pushed by her best friend-the radical and resolute A.J.-to become the face of a movement.

Beckford-Burrell's play begins as Maxine grapples with personal and professional setbacks-and as A.J. schemes to have her run for Far Rockaway local office. As Maxine and her unconventional election committee navigate race, identity, and gentrification along the trail, a campaign that began as a distraction turns into a mission of vital importance to Maxine and her community.

Beckford-Burrell set out, with La Race, to reflect, within the microcosm of one city council campaign, the myriad experiences, cultures, politics, and perspectives of Black women in Far Rockaway. La Race emerged, for Beckford-Burrell, in a moment where facets of liberal white America abruptly adopted a political consciousness about issues Black people had long been fighting to be heard about. As the burden of saving America from itself was discursively placed on Black women and voters, Beckford-Burrell began writing against the erasure Black women face as they're simultaneously stereotyped as 'strong Black women' and expected to bear the weight of enacting change. In La Race, the central character, Maxine, while committed to her ideals, is deeply ambivalent about the spotlight that comes with the leadership role that's been thrust upon her.

Explains Beckford-Burrell, "I wanted to center Black women in a way that we rarely are: to depict regular people trying to live life. The term 'strong Black woman' is so problematic in that it evokes this idea of 'I must carry a thousand people, I must lift the car off of a struggling baby.' Just because you're called to arms doesn't mean you necessarily want to be there and do it-sometimes you are just doing it because you have to. A lot of women can relate to the implicit and oftentime explicit expectation of being the shoulder to cry on, the nurturer." A recurring setting of the play is a therapist's office; adds Beckford-Burrell, "There's 'strength' in acknowledging you also actually need help."

As Taylor Reynolds-who previously directed Page 73's world premiere production of John J. Caswell, Jr.'s acclaimed Man Cave and co-directed Working Theater's co-production of Songs About Trains-says, "In Bleu's writing, we can identify people we see passing us on the street: there's such a truthful realism to these characters, that Bleu manages to combine with an expansive and mythic quality in her storytelling."

Page 73 Artistic Director Michael Walkup says of La Race, "This production is a long-awaited culmination of Page 73's multi-year relationship with Bleu-as a Playwriting Fellow, Interstate 73 Writers Group member, and recipient of a Summer Residency, Virtual Residency, and Individual Writing Retreat. We're proud to join with The Working Theater to introduce audiences to the first of Bleu's ambitious anthology of New York City-based plays."

Working Theater Producing Artistic Director Laura Carbonell Monarque says, "Working Theater is thrilled to partner with Page 73 to share La Race with our audiences. Bleu's thoughtful play feels like a natural extension of the community- centered work we have been exploring with partners in neighborhoods across NYC through our Five Boroughs/One City Initiative, and we are excited to continue engaging the labor and theater communities in conversations about what it means to call New York home."

La Race follows Page 73's Spring 2022 production of John J. Caswell, Jr.'s Man Cave, which was Page 73's first production since the 2020 shutdown, before which the organization presented Michael R. Jackson's Pulitzer Prize-winning A Strange Loop (co-produced with and presented at Playwrights Horizons) and Zora Howard's Pulitzer Prize finalist STEW.

Working Theater most recently co-produced, with Radical Evolution and New Ohio Theatre, Songs About Trains, "a foot-stomping, powerhouse look at the outsiders who built America" (Stage Buddy), and joined Waterwell to associate produce their U.S. premiere production of Stefano Massini's 7 Minutes, directed by Mei Ann Teo and translated by Francesca Spedalieri, a riveting examination of organized labor and collective action that the Huffington Post called "electrifying and chilling to watch".

Performance Schedule and Ticketing

The production takes place November 21-December 23, 2022 at McGinn/Cazale Theater, WP Theater, 4th Floor, 2162, Broadway, New York. Performances are Mondays - Fridays at 7:30 PM and Saturdays at 2:00 PM and 7:30 PM.

Sliding Scale ticket prices will be $85, $60, $40, $25, $10, and $0.

Covid-19 audience safety protocols

Masks will be required at all times. All staff are regularly tested, up to date vaccinated, and will be masked throughout the event. Our company of performers are regularly tested, up to date vaccinated and will be performing without a face covering.

About Bleu Beckford-Burrell

Bleu Beckford-Burrell is a first-generation Jamaican-American actor/playwright. Born and raised in New York City, she works for non-profit organizations where she teaches acting to teens, as well as write and direct plays. Her plays include: P.S.365 (2019 O'Neill Finalist) showcased at EST (Youngblood Workshop Series) and The National Black Theatre (Keep the Soul Alive reading series); Lyons Pride (2020 Burman New Play Award Finalist, 2019 The Kilroy's Honorable Mention, and Yale Drama Series Award Runner-up, 2018 BAPF, Princess Grace Award Finalist) showcased at Playwrights Realm (Ink'd Festival of New Plays) and EST (Bloodwork Reading Series); and La Race (2020 Normal Ave Finalist and Theatre503 International Playwright Award, O'Neill, BAPF, 2021 Princess Grace Semi-finalist). She is a Macdowell Fellow (2022), Page73 Fellow (2021), The Playwrights Realm Fellow (2018), PWC New Voices Fellowship (2018, Finalist), NYTW/2050 Fellowship (2019, Finalist) as well as an I73 playwright (2020), Colt Coeur resident (2021), PWC Core Writer (2020, Finalist), WP Lab (2020, Finalist), Working Farm (2019, Semi-Finalist), et cet. She received the 2020 Playwrights Horizons, Jody Falco & Jeffrey Steinman Commission for Emerging Playwrights, 2021 South Coast Repertory, Elizabeth George Emerging Writer Commission and 2022 Keen Company, Keen Teens Commission. M.F.A. Rutgers University.

About Taylor Reynolds

Taylor Reynolds (Director) is a New York-based director from Chicago and one of the Producing Artistic Leaders of OBIE-winning The Movement Theatre Company. Selected directing credits include: Tambo & Bones (Playwrights Horizons/CTG), Man Cave (Page 73), The Most Spectacularly Lamentable Trial of Miz Martha Washington (Hudson Valley Shakespeare Festival, New York Times Critic's Pick), Richard & Jane & Dick & Sally (Baltimore Center Stage/Playwrights Realm), Tough (AADA), Plano (Clubbed Thumb, Drama Desk nomination for Best Director), Songs About Trains (Radical Evolution), and Think Before You Holla (creator/deviser). Taylor has worked as a director, assistant, and collaborator with companies including Keen Company, Ojai Playwrights Conference, MCC, New Georges, and The 24 Hour Plays. Taylor is the 2021 LPTW Lucille Lortel Award recipient, a New Georges Affiliated Artist, 2017-2018 Clubbed Thumb Directing Fellow, and Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab alum. Member of SDC.

About the Cast

Auberth Bercy

(Uriel) is a first generation Haitian-American actress, comedian, and filmmaker, originally from Miami, Florida. She was last seen Off-Broadway in the musical She Persisted at Atlantic Theatre Company. She appeared as a finalist in both the YAAAS Comedy Fest at Broadway Comedy Club & The Black Women In Comedy Festival - LA. She is also the creative director & founder of her own independent film production company - AWRY Productions. @auberthbercy

Naomi Lorrain

(Maxine) is a Harlem based actor/playwright. She is an AUDELCO Awards nominee and a NY Innovative Theatre Awards nominee for Best Lead Actress for Behind the Sheet and Entangled, respectively. She is a writer for the 2022 Disney Television Discovers: Talent Showcase. Her one-act comedy, THERESA, was selected for the 2022 Black Motherhood & Parenting Festival. Her play, how to roll a blunt, was a 2021 Finalist for the National Playwrights Conference at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center. Her screenplay, My Better Half was a 2021 2nd Rounder for Comedy Feature Screenplay at the Austin Film Festival as well as a quarterfinalist for the WeScreenplay: Diverse Voices Screenwriting Lab. Theater: Mark it Down, Song for a Future Generation (Williamstown Theatre Festival), Behind the Sheet (Ensemble Studio Theatre), What To Send Up When It Goes Down (The Movement Theatre Company). TV: Orange is the New Black (Netflix), Elementary (CBS), The Good Fight (CBS All Access), Madam Secretary (CBS). Lorrain also moonlights as a Research Assistant at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. NYU: MFA; Yale: B.A.

Vince Nappo

(Grant). International: The Merchant Of Venice (Royal Shakespeare Company); Silence (Stephen Joseph In The Round); Pull My Strings (Edinburgh Fringe Festival); National Tour: Million Dollar Quartet. Off-Broadway (select): Anatomy of a Suicide (Atlantic Theater Company), The Merchant Of Venice (Theatre For A New Audience), The Jew Of Malta (Theatre For A New Audience); Richard II (Matchbook Productions/Sonnet Rep.), Other Bodies (Flux Theatre Ensemble). Film (select): Paint, Friends With Kids, Serenity (Best Actor L.A. Shorts Fest 2017), Soundwave, Killing Lincoln. Television (select): Jack Ryan, The Blacklist, New Amsterdam,I'm Dying Up Here, The Last Tycoon, Reign, NCIS, Castle, Shades of Blue, Controversy, Red Widow Khaki Is Not Leather. Training: Royal Welsh College Of Music & Drama, National Theatre Conservatory

Christopher B. Portley

(Trey). Christopher B. Portley last appeared as Demby as he made his Arena Stage debut in the world premiere of American Prophet: Fredrick Douglass in His Own Words. Last summer he made his Chautauqua Theater Company debut playing De'Andre in Dominique Morisseau's Blood at the Root directed by Stori Ayers, and Zanni and Flavio in Commedia Dell' Arte directed by Andrew Borba. Other theatre credits include Antigone (Cleveland Play House), Light It Up! (Cleveland Play House), Father Comes Home From the Wars Parts 1, 2 and 3 (African American Repertory Theatre); Christopher's film credits include Sing Canary, Sing. Instagram: Christopherbportley

Stacey Sargeant

(Dejani/Doctor). Stacey was most recently seen in the critically acclaimed Broadway revival of for colored girls.... Credits include: Film: Radha Blank's The Forty-Year-Old Version, Come Sunday; TV: FBI: Most Wanted, Blue Bloods, Bull, Elementary, The Blacklist, Gossip Girl, Law & Order: SVU; Theater: Nantucket Sleigh Ride (LCT), Rags Parkland Sings the Songs of the Future (Drama Desk, Drama League, Lortel nominations), Two Gentlemen of Verona and the all-female The Taming of the Shrew (Delacorte Theatre), Eclipsed (Public Theater, Curran, Yale Rep, McCarter Theatre), Our Lady of Kibeho and Big Love (Signature Theatre), Legally Blonde (1st Nat'l Tour).

Shaunette Renée Wilson

(AJ) will next be seen in Indiana Jones 5 for Lucasfilm, directed by James Mangold. She stars opposite Harrison Ford and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. She will also star in the upcoming Kahlil Joseph feature, BLKNWS for A24. On the TV side, Wilson next appears in Hulu's highly-anticipated limited series, Washington Black opposite Sterling K. Brown. She was most recently seen as Dr. Mina Okafor in Antoine Fuqua's FOX's medical drama, The Resident. She also appeared in the Holiday Horror Anthology series, Into the Dark, "Treehouse" for Blumhouse Television & Hulu, and a 7-episode arc on season 2 of Showtime's, Billions. Shaunette is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama and was awarded the prestigious Princess Grace Award in Theater while in her final year. She is a proud New Yorker making her New York stage debut. She is repped by CAA, Authentic Talent & Literary Management, and Fox Rothschild.

About the Creative Team

Arnulfo Maldonado

(Scenic Design) Broadway: A Strange Loop (Tony Nominee); Topdog/Underdog; Trouble In Mind. Page 73: Grounded, Judy, Catch As Catch Can, A Strange Loop. Off-Broadway: Shhhh (Atlantic); Nollywood Dreams, School Girls... (MCC); The New Englanders, Sugar in Our Wounds [Lucille Lortel Award] (MTC); Dance Nation, Wish You Were Here (Playwrights Horizons); To My Girls (Second Stage); A Case For The Existence of God, Fires in the Mirror (Signature). Regional: Alley Theatre, Berkeley Rep, CTG, Guthrie, Steppenwolf, Woolly Mammoth. International Tour: The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir. 2020 Obie Sustained Excellence in Set Design, Princess Grace Fabergé Theater Award, Henry Hewes Design Award nominee. IG:

Sarafina Bush

(Costume Designer). Broadway: For Colored Girls... (Tony Award Nominee), Pass Over. Off-Broadway: To My Girls (2nd Stage), Heroes of the Fourth Turning (Obie Award: Playwrights Horizons), Broadway Bounty Hunter (Greenwich House), Plot Points, Pass Over (LCT3). Regional: The Outsiders (La Jolla Playhouse), How to Dance in Ohio (Syracuse Stage), Life After (Goodman Theatre), Afterwords (5th Avenue), Nina Simone: Four Women (Berkshire Theatre Group), Slow Food (Geva Theatre), Cry It Out and The Royale (Kitchen Theatre Company. Education: BA, Adelphi University.

Stacey Derosier

(Lighting Designer) Credits: Weightless (WP Theater), Fat Ham (Public Theater), sandblasted (Vineyard Theatre and WP Theater, Lortel nomination), This Beautiful Future (TheaterLab), The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (The Shed), The Last of the Love Letters (Atlantic Theater Company), STEW (Page 73), for all the women who thought they were mad (Soho Rep), White Noiseconceived by Daniel Fish (NYU Skirball), Playing Hot! (Pipeline Theater Company), Lewiston/Clarkston (Rattlestick Playwright's Theater). 2018 Recipient of The Daryl Roth Creative Spirit Award.

Bailey Costa

(Lighting Designer) Most recently she designed lighting for productions with NYU Grad Acting, Tisch Dance, Columbia University, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theatre, as well as the world premier of Johnny Lloyd's Or, An Astronaut Play with Inversion Theatre Company. She has worked as lighting supervisor for such companies as Boston Lyric Opera and North Shore Music Theatre, as well as assistant lighting designer for Amélie and The Great Comet of 1812 on Broadway.

Germán Martínez

(Sound Designer) A proud son of immigrant parents, Germán Martínez is a NYC/NJ based Sound Designer. Germán is a Montclair State University alum (2018), and is the current Eastern Representative for the TSDCA (Theatrical Sound Designer and Composers Association). His work has been featured at: Williamstown Theatre Festival, MCC, American Repertory Theatre, Repertorio Español, GALA Hispanic, George Street Playhouse, Two River Theater, and Trinity Rep. Germán has made is recent Broadway debut on Into The Woods at the St. James, and The Piano Lesson at the Barrymore Theatre. Keep up with his work @GermanTheSoundDesigner

Sean Sandford

(Props Designer) is NYC based Theater Artist and Technician, and is thrilled to be working on La Race. Other credits include Prop Supervisor for Peerless with Primary Stages, Candida with Gingold Theatrical Group, and Sean is also Prop Supervisor for Westport Country Playhouse's '22 Season. Sean holds dual degrees in Theater and Psychology from UMass Amherst. Sean frequently does prop work, assistant design, carpentry, painting, and rigging for theaters all over NYC and CT, and is an avid draftsperson.

Ralph Stan Lee

(Production Stage Manager) Ralph Stan Lee hails from Long Island. Ralph graduated from an HBCU, NC A&T and went to grad school after. During his career he has worked several festivals, off-Broadway and regional shows. Ralph primarily has worked on National and International tours. Ralph also served as the Head of B.F.A. Stage Management at Penn State University. Selective PSM Credits: National Tours; Hamilton (Angelica first national) Summer: The Donna Summer Musical (first national), Chicago (Cellblock tour), The Bodyguard (first national), Motown (second national, 1st SM), Nice Work if You Can Get It, A Christmas Story, Dreamgirls, Hello Dolly (50th anniversary w/ Sally Struthers), Kinky Boots (Asia), Cinderella (2nd National). He is blessed to have been taken around the world to do theater.

About Page 73

Since its founding in 1997, Page 73 has unwaveringly focused on nurturing early-career playwrights and expanding the theatrical canon. The organization has consistently sought to open new pathways to recognition for fresh, urgent, and daring voices, in part by mounting works solely by writers who have not yet had a New York City premiere Off-Broadway. In 2020, the organization was honored with an institutional Obie Award "for providing extraordinary support for early career playwrights."

Page 73 has become renowned for introducing playwrights with a distinct approach to theatricality and language into the larger theatrical ecosystem. Page 73 offers writers career guidance, financial assistance, and development opportunities through programs including the Page 73 Playwriting Fellowship, the Interstate 73 Writers Group, and the Page 73 Summer Residency. The organization helps playwrights move their work toward premiere, in Page 73's own presentations or co-presentations with partner institutions, or by connecting writers to available opportunities at colleague theaters. Playwrights leave Page 73's programs having meticulously honed their crafts, formed kinetic new collaborative relationships, and been equipped to flourish as empowered, self-assured artists.

Page 73 developed and, with Playwrights Horizons, produced the world premiere of Michael R. Jackson's A Strange Loop, which won dozens of prestigious awards including the 2020 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Among Page 73's many other celebrated world and New York premieres are Zora Howard's STEW, which was named a Finalist for the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for Drama; Mia Chung's Catch as Catch Can, Leah Nanako Winkler's Kentucky, Max Posner's Judy, Clare Barron's You Got Older, George Brant's Grounded, and Susan Soon He Stanton's Today Is My Birthday. Diversifying the American theater and making space for voices theater audiences have not yet heard is at the core of Page 73's ethos. Page 73 has co-produced with eminent new play theaters including Soho Rep., Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, and Ensemble Studio Theatre. The organization produced the professional New York City debuts of Samuel D. Hunter (2015 MacArthur Fellow), Quiara Alegría Hudes (2012 Pulitzer Prize winner), Dan LeFranc (2010 New York Times Outstanding Playwright Award recipient), Heidi Schreck (2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist, Tony Award nominee), and Clare Barron (2019 Pulitzer Prize finalist). Close to two-thirds of the over 140 playwrights supported by the organization have subsequently received New York or regional theater productions, and the number grows each season.

About Working Theater

Founded in 1985, Working Theater believes the transformative experience of live theater should not be a privilege or a luxury, but a staple. Now in its 38th season, Working Theater continues its mission to produce theater for, with, and about working people-the essential workers of any city or town-and to make play-going a regular part of our audiences' cultural lives. Through an active commissioning pipeline, our sliding scale ticketing initiative, a successful grassroots audience engagement program, and a pioneering arts-in- education program, our work remains relevant, accessible, and affordable to all, regardless of geography or socio-economic status. Working Theater has commissioned and produced over seventy culturally diverse world-premiere plays, with subjects and themes ranging from the struggles of women working in poultry plants (Lisa Ramirez's To the Bone) to the plight of the uninsured in America (Michael Milligan's Mercy Killers), to the shared journey of undocumented immigrants crossing the United States border, staged inside an actual 18-wheeler (Ed Cardona, Jr.'s La Ruta). The company has presented its work in 15 American cities, earned 2 Drama League Nominations, 6 Drama Desk Award nominations, a Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Ensemble for Rob Ackerman's Tabletop, and 3 Audelco Awards.