Negro Ensemble Mounts THE COST as 2017 Alumni Showcase at La MaMa This Weekend
This weekend, July 14 to 16, The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC) will hold the 2017 edition of its NEC Alumni Summer Showcase in La MaMa's First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street, presenting "The Cost" by Aquaila Shene Barnes, directed by Barbara Montgomery.
With its Summer Showcase Program, The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. is harkening back to its original mission by re-implementing its ensemble company system and helping theater artists of the company to build their careers. Actors in Summer Showcase productions are members of the company's training workshops. Authors and directors are senior members of the Company who are channeling to the organization significant works they have been working on or would like to develop.
"The Cost" follows behind-the-scenes drama of the Fosters, a fictional African-American political family, as they navigate one of the most exciting political races in Ohio history. The brain trust of the campaign is Nicole Foster, a gifted politician in her own right, sister and campaign manager to candidate Thomas Foster Jr. Yet Nicole must take a back seat as their father has chosen her less-talented brother as "The One" to become the first and youngest African American governor of Ohio. Race, gender, sexuality and a parent's unfulfilled promise set the direction this election will take. The Foster Campaign goes on a roller coaster ride from underdog to potential front-runner. However, the moment arises when family secrets could potentially destroy all they have worked for. The story asks, "Can I be courageous enough to stand in my truth" and "Is the sacrifice ever worth it?" Ms. Barnes said "With this play, I wanted to explore how free someone can really be in political life. We want our politicians to tell the truth, be honest, show integrity, but in reality, most don't feel they have a shot if they express what is most important to them. Politics is a public display of how choices are made out of obligation, but we all make choices that consistently challenge how true to ourselves we are willing to be."
Playwright Aquaila Shene Barnes is author of "My People, My People," which was presented at the historical Madame C.J. Walker Theatre in Indianapolis featuring Malik Yoba, (of "Cool Runnings" and Fox-TV's "New York Undercover" and "Empire"). Her other plays include "hush hush" (a dramatic comedy on family and sexuality) and "Sisters" (a drama about illness and letting go). She also writes poetry, short stories and documentaries. She has performed in venues across the U.S. and hosted Ascension's Open Mic in Harlem for several years (formerly at The Harlem Tea Room). "The Cost" was developed in Woody King's New Federal Theatre Playwrights Lab and had readings in the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival's Readers Series (Winston-Salem, NC) and in 2016 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (Los Angeles) and NYC's Intersections Play Readings Series at BMCC's Tribeca Performing Arts Center.
Director Barbara Montgomery, a prominent NEC alumna, is a writer, director and actor who is active in Broadway, TV and film. Ms. Montgomery has deep roots in The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. and La MaMa, having appeared in many productions in both institutions from their foundings until now. On Broadway, she has appeared in "Kennedy's Children," "Raisin, the Musical," "My Sister, My Sister," "Innocent Black," "First Breeze of Summer" and "The Tap Dance Kid." She is recipient of an Obie award and several AUDELCO Awards. On TV, she was a series regular on "AMEN" and "Married People," guest starred on "A Different World," "Fresh Prince of Bel Air," "Polly" and "The Women of Brewster Place," to name a few. She now nurtures young artists sharing her experience and passion for the arts.
The actors are Richarda Abrams, Sharina Martin, Ivan Moore, Justine Hall, Robert Ierardi, Andre Dell, CharLes Browning and Alkyssa Simon. Set and costume designers are TBA. Lighting design is by Antoinette Thynes. Sound design is by Jacqui Anscombe. Stage manager is B'jai Pierce. Production Manager is Karimah.
IF YOU GO:
July 14 to 16, 2017
Summer Shares at La MaMa, 74 E 4th St. (between 2nd Ave & Bowery)
Open rehearsal (invitation only) July 14 at 7:00 PM
Benefit performances July 15 at 7:00 PM and 16 at 3:00 PM
Tickets $35, box office 866-811-4111, www.necinc.org
Runs 2:20 with intermission. Critics are invited.
The mission of NEC's Summer Alumni Showcase program is:
(1) To add a productive wing to the Company's planned vision of succession,
(2) To provide a platform for experienced, acclaimed and actively working industry professionals from the illustrious ranks of NEC to nurture, mentor and guide greater numbers of emerging African American, African and Caribbean artists,
(3) To develop critical new works and to solidify a concrete foundation for training, career development and high-quality theatre,
(4) To ensure the Company's art remains current and relevant, and
(5) To build a solid pathway enabling the Company's diverse and collective voices to remain authentic and poignant as an undeniable dimension of American culture.
An open dress rehearsal will be held Friday July 14 (7:00 PM) and full performances will be staged Saturday July 15 (7:00 PM) and Sunday July 16 (3:00 PM). The July 14 open rehearsal is by invitation to industry only. Proceeds from the July 15 and 16 performances will benefit the program. Tickets are $35 and can be purchased at www.necinc.org or by calling by 866-811-4111.
Summer Shares at La MaMa makes La MaMa theatre spaces available to artists for non-curated productions.