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TFANA to Present Alice Childress's WEDDING BAND

Wedding Band’s cast includes Brittany Bradford as Julia Augustine, Rosalyn Coleman as Lula Green, Veanne Cox as Herman’s Mother, and more.

TFANA to Present Alice Childress's WEDDING BAND

TFANA will present Alice Childress's Wedding Band. Director Awoye Timpo's new staging, running April 23-May 15, brings Childress's masterpiece to New York audiences for the first time since 1972, when it made its New York premiere in a production directed by Childress and Joseph Papp. Childress is an under-acknowledged icon of the American theatre. Wedding Band is set in 1918, in Charleston, South Carolina, in a small, protective micro-community of Black women, in which a newcomer reveals a long-term relationship with a white man. Wedding Band subsequently traces the devoted couple's caustic confrontations with anti-miscegenation laws, vicious family racism, community disapproval, and finally deadly disease and their own long-buried feelings.

Wedding Band's cast includes Brittany Bradford as Julia Augustine, Rosalyn Coleman as Lula Green, Veanne Cox as Herman's Mother, Rebecca Haden as Annabelle, Brittany-Laurelle as Mattie, Sofie Nesanelis as Princess, Renrick Palmer as Nelson Green, Phoenix Noelle Reece as Teeta, Thomas Sadoski as Herman, Elizabeth Van Dyke as Fanny Johnson, and Max Woertendyke as Bell Man.

The creative team includes Jason Ardizzone-West (Scenic Designer), Qween Jean (Costume Designer), Stacey Derosier (Lighting Designer), Rena Anakwe (Sound Designer), Alphonso Horne (Composer), Nehemiah Luckett (Music Director), Renee Robinson (Movement Director), Andrew Wade (Voice Director), Cherie Corinne Rice (Dialect Coach), Arminda Thomas (Dramaturg), and Jonathan Kalb (TFANA Resident Dramaturg).

TFANA is presenting and producing the play as part of the residency of CLASSIX, the collective created by Awoye Timpo with Brittany Bradford, A.J. Muhammad, Dominique Rider, and Arminda Thomas, at TFANA. CLASSIX explodes the classical canon through an exploration of Black performance history and dramatic works by Black writers-and proposes an intervention in the current conversation around theatre history As Maya Phillips writes in The New York Times, "Childress, who died in 1994, never had the financial success nor popular recognition that her work merited in her lifetime. It's unfortunate because her plays are works of merit." Says Helen Shaw, New York Magazine, "Any list of great American Playwrights is incomplete without Alice Childress - her cool eye saw deep into history, into the theater, into Blackness, into whiteness."

Set at the end of World War I during the 1918 flu pandemic-and amidst the seething racism throughout the country that would, the following year, boil into the spate of white supremacist attacks that became known as Red Summer-Wedding Band meticulously depicts its context, a series of homes surrounding a single backyard that make up the play's familial central community.

In a letter to Ruby Dee, who starred in the play in 1972 at The Public Theater, Childress wrote, "Wedding Band is about yesterday and today...far away and right at hand...old and ever present. It is the past, present and future...recollection, attention and anticipation...It is about the humiliation of an entire nation...not a tale of star-crossed lovers. My play is about manless women. Women in need of love, name, protection. It concerns itself with love and the seeking of love in a racist society...all kinds of love...man and woman, parental, neighborly...the love of country, the love of material things, and spiritual love."

Timpo explains, "So much of the play is about this community of women, and we want to create a space that lets the relationships ignite, and that leaves space for the women to support each other, challenge each other, change each other." Alongside set designer Jason Ardizzone-West and dramaturg Arminda Thomas, Timpo traveled to Charleston to do research and get an understanding of the city's layout and atmosphere. "You walk down the streets and you see these alleyways and you just say, 'I wonder what's happening back there'-and we're similarly trying to crack a window into the world of this backyard microcosm."

In writing about 1918 from the heat of the Civil Rights era, Childress likewise crafted a potent link between mid- and turn-of-the-century America: between urgent conversations sparked by ideological divides between integrationism and self-determinism in the 1960s, back to a time when these differing visions sparked similar debates about solidarity and community. Childress's play presents a scenario at the heart of these questions, equally resonant in today's moment of pandemic, war, and battles over what stories are told about American history-and through what lenses.

Timpo elaborates: "In both the 1960s, when the play was written, and in 1918, the time the play is set, we were asking: how are we shaping our society in a way that's just, and how can we find a place where we can survive and support each other so that all of us can thrive? The play is set within WWI; with a pandemic underfoot; in the throes of the Great Migration. It's a moment of transformation and change-and it's also a moment of uncertainty. That tension is very much present in the production we're creating now. It's interesting and revealing doing this piece in a moment where we're asking a lot of questions about who we want to be-and also rejecting many of the framings of the past."

In February 2020, Theatre for a New Audience inaugurated the CLASSIX residency with a public staged reading of Wedding Band directed by Awoye Timpo and committed to a fully staged production in the 2021 season. In March 2020, of course, theatres were forced to close due to the pandemic. Now, in 2022, Wedding Band will be fully produced at TFANA.

WEDDING BAND PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE, TICKETING, AND OTHER INFORMATION

Performances of Wedding Band will take place at 7:30pm April 23 + 24 and April 27 through May 15. Matinees at 2:00pm will take place on April 30 and May 1, 7, 8, 14, and 15. There will be no performance Tuesday, April 26.

Theatre for a New Audience is committed to economic access and offers tickets at a wide range of prices:

$20 New Deal: all performances. Age 30 and under or full-time students of any age. May be purchased online, over the phone, or at the box office, in advance or day-of, with valid ID(s) proving eligibility required at pickup. Use code NEWDEAL.

$20 Brooklyn Pass: all performances. Employees of participating Brooklyn non-profit organizations through the Brooklyn Pass program.

Special Discounts: TFANA offers special discounts available by joining its mailing list at www.tfana.org.

$90-$100: all performances.

$125 Premium Seats: all performances.

Single tickets are on sale March 15 at www.tfana.org or by emailing tickets@TFANA.org.

Polonsky Shakespeare Center is located at 262 Ashland Place, Brooklyn, NY 11217.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Alice Childress, actress, novelist, and playwright, was born in Charleston, South Carolina, on October 12, 1912. Childress moved to Harlem when she was five and was raised by her grandmother, who encouraged her to write. At weekly church events, young Childress heard moving stories of personal and family struggles, which inspired her with a love of storytelling and served as fodder for stories about the plight of urban blacks. Childress became passionately interested in theater and attended the American Negro Theater School of Drama and Stagecraft. In 1944, she made her debut in Anna Lucasta, which became the longest running all-black play on Broadway. She wrote, directed, and starred in her first play in 1949, and in 1950, encouraged by actor and activist Paul Robeson, she founded her own theater. She wrote more than a dozen plays, including Trouble in Mind. The play was scheduled to move to Broadway in 1957, but Childress objected to changes requested in the script and canceled the production. Her 1966 play, Wedding Band, was produced again in 1972 by Joe Papp's New York Shakespeare Festival. Childress also wrote adult and children's novels. Like her plays, they dealt with the pressures on urban blacks. Her young-adult novel A Hero Ain't Nothing but a Sandwich (1973) recounts the rehabilitation of a 13-year-old heroin addict. The book became a bestseller and a movie in 1977. Her 1979 novel, A Short Walk, was nominated for a Pulitzer. Childress also collaborated with her husband, composer Nathan Woodard, on musical plays. She died in 1994 at age 81.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR

Awoye Timpo (Director) Off-Broadway: In Old Age (New York Theatre Workshop), The Loophole (Public Theater), Carnaval (National Black Theatre), Good Grief (Vineyard Theatre and Audible) and The Homecoming Queen (Atlantic Theater Company). Regional: The Bluest Eye (Huntington), Pipeline (Studio Theatre), Paradise Blue (Long Wharf), Everybody Black (Actors Theatre of Louisville), School Girls (Berkeley Rep), Jazz (Marin Theatre Company). Other: "Black Picture Show" (Artists Space/Metrograph), Bluebird Memories (Audible). Founding Producer of CLASSIX, theclassix.org.

ABOUT THE CAST

Brittany Bradford (Julia Augustine). TFANA: Fefu and Her Friends. Broadway: Bernhardt/Hamlet (Roundabout). Off-Broadway: Merrily We Roll Along (Roundabout/Fiasco Theater). New York: Mac Beth (Hunter Theater Project), Black Picture Show (Classix/Artists Space). Tv/film: Julia (HBOMax), New Amsterdam, Fear The Walking Dead, The Same Storm. Regional credits include Westport Country Playhouse, The Muny, Mixed Blood, and the O'Neill. Co-founder of HomeBase Theatre Collective, and a producing member of Classix. Graduate of The Juilliard School.

Rosalyn Coleman (Lula Green). Broadway: To Kill A Mockingbird, Travesties, The Mountaintop, Radio Golf, Seven Guitars, The Piano Lesson, Mule Bone. Film: Miss Virginia, The Immortal Jellyfish, Frankie and Alice, Brooklyn's Finest, Our Song, Brown Sugar, Music of the Heart. TV: Bull, Jessica Jones, Blue Bloods, Madam Secretary, Law and Order. Off-Broadway: The Woman's Party, Native Son, Breakfast with Mugabe. Solo play The Master's Tools at Williamstown Theatre Festival. Next feature film: Weapon For Peace director. Proud mom & wife. Love you. @irozapp

Veanne Cox (Herman's Mother). Broadway: An American in Paris, Caroline or Change, A Free Man of Color, La Cage Aux Folles, The Dinner Party, Company and Smile. She has received Tony and Emmy nominations and Obie and Drama Desk Awards. TV/FILM: The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Bull, NCIS New Orleans, New Amsterdam, Louie, Smash, Pan Am, Erin Brockovich, Big Eden, You've Got Mail, Cinderella, Seinfeld, two comedy web series Indoor Boys and Cady Did. Soon: Summoning Sylvia.

Rebecca Haden (Annabelle). TFANA debut. Currently: The Gilded Age (HBO). Other TV: Madam Secretary (CBS); NCIS: NOLA (CBS). Regional: Pride & Prejudice (Repertory Theatre of St. Louis); various plays at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Clarence Brown Theatre. Commercials: Lincoln, Samsung, Always, Kohl's. MFA: NYU Graduate Acting. Thank you to Troy, Erin, Mallory, Melissa, #2017MFU2, my family, and Jess; love to Grayson. @rebecca.haden

Brittany-Laurelle (Mattie) is a Storyteller from Harlem, NY. She is thrilled to be making her TFANA debut. Brittany-Laurelle was most recently seen in The Bluest Eye (The Huntington) and The Legend of Georgia McBride (Seven Angels Theatre). Her theatrical study with LaGuardia High School for Performing Arts and Adelphi University helped lead her to moments like this. Sending big love to all the Black girls across the world; may we never stop believing.

Sofie Nesanelis (Princess) is happy to be part of Wedding Band at TFANA. National Tour: How The Grinch Stole Christmas (Cindy Lou). Regional Theatre: The Sound of Music (Gretl) and Annie (Molly). Thanks to my team: Leorah Haberfield at Bohemia Group, Bonnie Shumofsky Bloom at Stewart Talent, Amelia Demayo, Ethan Haberfield, Kelli Gautreau. Love to my family! @sofienesanelis

Renrick Palmer (Nelson Green) was born on the island of Jamaica, where he lived for 13 years before migrating to New York City. He is a U.S Air Force Veteran turned actor affiliated with Public Works Theater Military Resilience Foundation, where he studies Shakespeare and is a Graduate of Long Island University and New York Film Academy. He's known for playing Jackie Robinson on A&E History Channel and Hassim in the Short Film "Hold UP" among other projects.

Phoenix Noelle Reece (Teeta) is an 8 yr. old actor from Queens, NY. She is grateful and excited to make her professional theater debut as Teeta. Her tv and film credits include The Last OG, Hunters, Sesame St, The Photograph and The Perfect Find. So thankful to TFANA, Barry Kolker, Jason Bercy and casting for this amazing opportunity. Thank you to my family, friends and Miss Rashell for believing in me. Insta: @phoenixnoelle13

Thomas Sadoski (Herman). Broadway: reasons to be pretty (Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle, Drama League Award nominations), Other Desert Cities (Lucille Lortel and Obie Awards), House of Blue Leaves, Reckless. Selected Off-Broadway: White Noise at Public Theater; The Way We Get By, Becky Shaw (Lucille Lortel nomination), This is Our Youth, Gemini, All This Intimacy at Second Stage; Sam Mendes' 2010 Bridge Project: As You Like It/The Tempest (BAM, the Old Vic and international tour); Stay; Where We're Born, The Mistakes Madeline Made, Jump/Cut, and The General from America. Selected regional: The Santaland Diaries at New Haven's Long Wharf Theater, Belleville at Pasadena Playhouse. Additional productions at Williamstown. Film: the upcoming Devotion and Lilly, The Last Word, I Smile Back, Wild, John Wick and John Wick: Chapter Two. Television: Life in Pieces, The Newsroom, The Slap. Sadoski sits on the board of the non-profit organizations INARA, War Child and Refugees International and is a member of the International Advisory Committee for Fortify Rights.

Elizabeth Van Dyke (Fanny Johnson) is an award-winning director and actress, and the Producing Artistic Director of New Federal Theatre.Originated Fannie Mae Dove in Flyin' West; Annie Talbert in A Dance on Widows Row. Roles include: Peggy Clark in Blue, Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Antigone in Gospel at Colonus, Sister Margaret in Amen Corner, Berniece in The Piano Lesson, Molly Cunningham in Joe Turner's Come & Gone, Mrs. Dickson in Intimate Apparel. AUDELCO Award for Best Actress for Zora.

Max Woertendyke (Bell Man). Broadway: A View from the Bridge. Off-Broadway: A Bright Room Called Day, Illyria, and Romeo & Juliet (all at The Public). Television credits include Succession (HBO), Longmire (Netflix), and Wu-Tang: An American Saga (Hulu). Brightwood (Max's first feature film as a Producer/Actor) will be released in 2023. Other theater credits include: Invisible Hand (CPH), Frankenstein (Denver Center), and Oslo (Pioneer). Education/Training: McGill University, Juilliard.

ABOUT THE CREATIVE TEAM

Jason Ardizzone-West (Scenic Designer) is an Emmy award winning set and production designer whose work spans the genres of live theater, tv/film, concert design and architecture. Jason has collaborated with creative teams and theaters across the country including: Actor's Theatre of Louisville, The Geffen, The Old Globe, Miami City Ballet, The 5th Avenue Theatre, Ford's Theatre, The Huntington, Berkeley Rep, Cincinnati Playhouse, Cleveland Playhouse, The Vineyard Theatre, The Public Theatre, and more. www.ardizzonewest.com

Qween Jean (Costume Designer). Thank you Awoye for your brilliance & support. This ritual has allowed our ancestors to transcend. Recent theatre: On Sugarland, Black No More, I Need Space, Macbeth In Stride, Semblance, Our Dear Dead Drug Lord, Siblings Play, Amen Corner, Rags Parkland, Good Grief, Othello, and the acclaimed What to Send Up, When it Goes Down. MFA from NYU Tisch. Black Trans Lives Matter!

Stacey Derosier (Lighting Designer). Credits: 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 Noise conceived by Daniel Fish (NYU Skirball), Playing Hot! (Pipeline Theater Company), Lewiston/Clarkston (Rattlestick Playwright's Theater). 2018 Lilly Award Daryl Roth Prize recipient.

Rena Anakwe (Sound Designer) is an interdisciplinary artist, performer and healer working primarily with sound, visuals, and scent. Exploring intersections between traditional healing practices, spirituality and performance, she creates works focused on sensory-based, experiential interactions using creative technology. Most recently, she was awarded with a 2021-2022 MacDowell Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Arts and a 2022 Jack Nusbaum Artist Residency at BAM. She is based in Brooklyn, by way of Nigeria and Canada. || aspaceforsound.com

Alphonso Horne (Composer). Juilliard Graduate and Multi-GRAMMY Award nominee Alphonso Horne thrills audiences with his soulful sound and dramatic sensibility. The true embodiment of class and eclecticism, Alphonso has collaborated with artists from all genres and disciplines including Wynton Marsalis, Patti LaBelle and Rihanna. Alphonso can also be seen on CBS's The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and in the Hollywood Jazz Film, Bolden.

Jonathan Kalb (TFANA Resident Dramaturg) is professor of theatre at Hunter College, CUNY and is TFANA's resident dramaturg. The author of five books on theatre, he has worked for more than three decades as a theatre scholar, critic, journalist and dramaturg. He has twice won The George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism and has also won the George Freedley Award for an outstanding theatre book from the Theatre Library Association. He often writes about theatre on his TheaterMatters blog at jonathankalb.com.

Nehemiah Luckett (Music Director) has been composing, accompanying and music directing for more than 25 years. Originally from Jackson, Mississippi and currently a resident of New York City, from an early age Nehemiah connected his deep love of music to the transformative power of building community through breathing and singing with family and friends. Upcoming projects include: SISTAS, A Burning Church, and Triple Threats.

Renee Robinson (Movement Director) is a lecturer at Yale University where she teaches a course she developed entitled "Embodying Story." She is guest faculty at The Juilliard School and is an Irene Dowd Teaching Fellow. Ms. Robinson is also faculty at The Ailey School and Master Teaching Artist with Ailey Arts in Education. Ms. Robinson spent 30 years as a member of the renowned Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater (AAADT). Her professional career with AAADT is the longest of any female dancer in the company's history. An iconic dancer and a true legend, she was the last member of the company to have been hand picked by its late founder, Alvin Ailey. During her tenure in AAADT Ms. Robinson performed principal roles in several of Mr. Ailey's ballets including Revelations, Cry, and Blues Suite. Ms. Robinson performed at the White House for the State Dinner in 2003 in honor of the President of Kenya, Mwai Kibaki, and for the Dance Series in 2010. In 2012, Ms. Robinson was honored with the prestigious Dance Magazine Award. She was 1 of 50 honored by Good Housekeeping L'ORÉAL Paris as an Artistic Powerhouse of her generation. Robinson made her choreographic debut with a solo entitled Playing with Presence for the Yale Center for British Art. Ms. Robinson is overjoyed and filled with gratitude to be a part of Wedding Band.

Andrew Wade (Voice Director). Broadway: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child (U.S. head of voice and dialect), A Christmas Carol (with Matthew Warchus) and tour (voice and dialect director), King Lear with Glenda Jackson (voice coach), Matilda the Musical (director of voice) and national tour. West End: Lord of the Rings. The Public Theater: director of voice. Royal Shakespeare Company: head of voice. The Acting Company and Guthrie Theater: Julius Caesar. NYTW: Othello with Daniel Craig. Teaching: Juilliard, Stella Adler, NYU, BADA in Oxford. Film: Shakespeare in Love. Fellow: Rose Bruford College. Workshops and lectures: worldwide.

Cherie Corinne Rice (Dialect Coach). Lobby Hero (Capital Rep), Three Musketeers (Cleveland Playhouse), The Bluest Eye, Our Daughters Like Pillars, Skeleton Crew (Huntington), I Am My Own Wife (Long Wharf), Breath and Imagination (Lyric Stage Co), House of Joy (Cal Shakes), Song of the Northwoods, Rapture Season, Bernarda's Daughters, Evil Eye (Audible.com). MFA, Brown University/Trinity Rep; BA Theater & Performance, UC Berkeley. Head of Voice and Speech, Waterwell Drama, Assoc. Professor, NYU MFA acting program.

Arminda Thomas (Dramaturg). Selected dramaturgy credits include Black Picture Show (Artists Space), Mirrors (Next Door at NYTW); A Harlem Triptych of Eulalie Spence, Wine in the Wilderness, and Soul Struggle: The Works of Georgia Douglass Johnson (New Perspectives); Black History Museum...According to the United States of America (HERE Arts Center); Jazz (Marin Theatre Company); Zora Neale Hurston (New Federal Theatre); and The First Noel (Classical Theatre of Harlem).

Victor Vazquez, CSA, he/him (Casting Director) is the founder and lead Casting Director of X Casting (www.xcastingnyc.com) and sits on the national board of the Casting Society of America. He has cast projects for Broadway, Off-Broadway, London's West End, and Film. He is the proud son of Mexican immigrants.

TFANA'S HEALTH AND SAFETY PROTOCOLS

As TFANA welcomes audiences back to Polonsky Shakespeare Center, it has put into place new health and safety protocols for the protection of our audiences, artists and employees. In light of evolving COVID-19 transmission rates, as well as government regulations and guidance from the CDC, protocols are subject to updates. When attending productions at Polonsky Shakespeare Center, please note pre-show emails for any changes to these policies.

Theatre for a New Audience requires that all audience members be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 (a minimum of 14 days following full-vaccination) and wear a face mask at all times when not actively drinking or eating. No food or drink is permitted inside the theatre.

All Theatre for a New Audience employees are fully vaccinated and required to wear masks within Polonsky Shakespeare Center. Company members are also fully vaccinated and will be tested regularly. For information, please contact safety@tfana.org.



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