Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE Comes to The Arden

Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE Comes to The Arden

Arden Theatre Company continues its 30th Anniversary Season with Toni Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE from March 1 - April 1, 2018, on the Arden's F. Otto Haas Stage at 40 N. 2nd Street in Philadelphia. Honorary Producers are Jeanne B. Fisher and Robert Lang and Hether and Donald Smith.

In THE BLUEST EYE, Pecola Breedlove is a young black girl growing up in the 1940's. She wants nothing more than to be loved. Confronting turmoil at home, she prays for Shirley Temple's blue eyes, believing that their beauty is the only thing standing between her and the happiness of the white girls at school. This powerful adaptation explores the destructive power of racism and the strength of a community attempting to embrace an era of change.

THE BLUEST EYE was written by Toni Morrison in 1970. In 2005, Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre Company commissioned playwright Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly, Smart People) to adapt the novel into a full-length play. Steppenwolf reprised THE BLUEST EYE in October 2006, and the play received its off-Broadway premiere at the New Victory Theatre in New York in November 2006. The Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis produced THE BLUEST EYE in 2017 to critical acclaim.

At the helm of THE BLUEST EYE is Director Raelle Myrick-Hodges. Myrick-Hodges began her career at the Arden Theatre Company as an Arden Professional Apprentice (APA) in 1998. Myrick-Hodges directed the Arden's production of Two Trains Running in 2016.

Raelle Myrick-Hodges is a founder of Azuka Theatre Company, now in its 22nd year. After her completion of the Arden Professional Apprenticeship program, Raelle served as Artistic Director at Brava Theater in San Francisco, succeeded by her appointment as Curator of Performing Arts at the Contemporary Arts Center of New Orleans. As a producer, Raelle has produced more than 35 works in theatre, dance and music. In addition to the Arden's Two Trains Running in 2016, Myrick-Hodges's other credits include Macbeth (Georgia Shakespeare Festival), Intimate Apparel, I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda, Topdog/Underdog, Raisin in the Sun (all at PlayMakers Repertory), Fences (California Shakespeare Co.) and Sweet (National Black Theatre.) Upcoming: Venus in Fur (Santa Cruz Shakespeare), Regina Taylor's Crowns (Virgina Stage Company), In Splendid Error (NY Premiere, the Mint Theater.)

Arden Producing Artistic Director Terrence J. Nolen says, "THE BLUEST EYE is a play that I have long wanted to produce. The Arden's misson is to tell great stories by great storytellers, and the Arden has produced adaptations of great literature since our inception. I'm thrilled to have this story by Toni Morrison, adapted for the stage by Lydia R. Diamond, and brought to life by Raelle Myrick Hodges - all three extraordinary storytellers - as part of the Arden's 30th Anniversary Season."

Myrick-Hodges says, "I read Morrison's THE BLUEST EYE when I was just 14 years old and it had a tremendous impact on me. It didn't dumb down difficult issues. And the notion of what beauty is and 'colorism' really resonated with me. Just as Pecola grew up with Shirley Temple as a model for beauty, I grew up with Barbie. One of the many things I love about this show is that it depicts the universality of the resilience of the female."

The cast for THE BLUEST EYE includes Jasmine Ward as Pecola Breedlove, Nicolette Lynch as Claudia, Renika Williams as Frieda/Darlene, Soraya Butler as Mama, Chavez Ravine as Mrs. Breedlove, Damien R. Wallace as Daddy/Soaphead Church, Reggie D. White as Cholly/Breedlove and Eliana Fabiyi as Maureen Peal.

THE BLUEST EYE previews from Thursday, March 1 through Tuesday, March 6, 2018. Opening Night for press is Wednesday, March 7, 2018 at 7pm. THE BLUEST EYE runs through April 1, 2018. The Opening Night sponsor is Harmelin Media.

Single ticket prices start at $37 with discounts available for groups of 15 or more, seniors, students, military, and educators. Call the Arden Box Office at 215.922.1122, visit www.ardentheatre.org or visit the box office at 40 N. 2nd Street in Old City, Philadelphia.

A Pay-What-You-Can performance of THE BLUEST EYE takes place on Wednesday, February 28, 2018, at 8pm. The performance is open to the public and all ticket proceeds benefit Art Sanctuary.

Post-show discussions will be held following performances on Thursday, March 15 at 7pm, Sunday, March 18 at 2pm, Wednesday, March 21 at 6:30pm, Sunday, March 25 at 2pm, and Wednesday, March 28 at 6:30 pm.

The Arden is wheelchair accessible and provides assisted listening devices and large-print programs at every performance. Open Captioned and Audio Described performances will take place on Friday, March 23 at 8pm and Saturday, March 24 at 2pm. Reservations are required for accessible seating and may be made by calling the Arden's Box Office at 215.922.1122.

Founded in 1988, Arden Theatre Company is dedicated to bringing to life great stories by great storytellers-on the stage, in the classroom, and in the community. Five productions are staged each season as part of the Mainstage series and two productions through Arden Children's Theatre, the city's first resident professional children's theatre program. New work is produced through the Independence Foundation New Play Showcase. The Arden's Education Department includes: Arden for All (AFA), a theatre access and education program for underserved young people; Arden Drama School, the after-school, Saturday, and summer camp classes for students in grades pre-K-12; Teen Arden, an immersive after-school access program for Philadelphia-area based teenagers; and the Arden Professional Apprentice Program, a nationally renowned comprehensive theatre management training program. The Hamilton Family Arts Center is the new facility dedicated to education programs and new play development.

The Arden has received numerous honors including 70 awards and 367 nominations from the Barrymore Awards for Excellence in Theatre. The Arden is a winner of four "Theatre Company of the Year" designations (Philadelphia Inquirer), six Philadelphia Magazine "Best of Philly" awards and three "Best of Philly Kids" awards, the City Paper's Reader's Choice Award and the prestigious "Great Friend to Kids Award" from the Please Touch Museum for Arden Children's Theatre work. For accessibility efforts, the Arden was named a "Keystone of Accessibility" by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Arden Theatre Company is a professional, nonprofit 501(c)(3) theatre company and a member of the Theatre Communications Group, the League of Resident Theatres, Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Old City Arts Association. The Arden also participates in The Barrymore Awards, a program of Theatre Philadelphia.

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