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Mirror Stage Examines Race and Gender in 11th Season of FEED YOUR MIND, Starting This October

Sponsored in part by 4Culture, the 2015-16 season of Mirror Stage's popular FEED YOUR MIND staged reading series traces a path from Jamestown, Virginia in 1676 to Hampton, Virginia in 1945, with a detour through Hades and Ancient Greece, exploring questions of racial and gender equity.

With roles for 18 women and six men -- featuring five white actors and 19 actors of color -- the 11th season of FEED YOUR MIND launches in October 2015 with An Issue of Blood by Marcus Gardley, followed by The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood in February 2016 and The Hampton Years by Jacqueline E. Lawton in April 2016.

All performances will be directed by Suzanne M. Cohen, and presented at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre in Seattle's University District.

Performance offers unique ways of knowing that can challenge entrenched paradigms, contribute to pluralism and expand the range of meaningful action. Theatre That Gets People Talking, Mirror Stage's innovative staged reading series engage the community in examining and discussing topical issues from different perspectives. Presented without costumes or sets, the emphasis on the text encourages audiences to create their own imagined world inhabited by the play's characters. Following every performance, a moderated discussion with the audience and artists explores the issues raised in more depth. By providing post-play discussions which are both interactive and educational, Mirror Stage creates the opportunity to increase awareness and understanding of the complexity of contemporary issues--such as racism, war, sexism in the workplace, capital punishment, immigration, the challenges faced by veterans returning stateside, environmentalism, religious intolerance, media images and body perception--and the far-reaching impact on the lives of us all.

An Issue of Blood by Marcus Gardley launches Mirror Stage's 11th FEED YOUR MIND on October 24 & 25, 2015 at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre. An Issue of Blood is set in 1676 -- before Ferguson, before Selma, even before slavery-a time when class, not color, defined a person's destiny, and a country not yet a country might have gone in another direction. Former indentured servant Negro Mary earned her freedom and now owns a profitable tobacco plantation in Jamestown, Virginia, though she is convinced her family and land are cursed. Her plans to avert disaster are thwarted by an interracial love triangle, an imminent rebellion, and a crime of passion. An Issue of Blood critically examines systems of oppression and racial inequity dating as far back as colonial America, using our history to shed harsh light on our country's struggle with race, discrimination, and police brutality. Playwright Marcus Gardley looks to a pivotal moment in our collective past to understand how we arrived in our tumultuous present.

Marcus Gardley is a poet-playwright who is the current recipient of the 2015 Glickman Award. He was the 2013 James Baldwin Fellow and the 2011 PEN Laura Pels award winner for Mid-Career Playwright. His play The House that Will Not Stand was commissioned and produced by Berkeley Rep with subsequent productions at Yale Rep and in London. Gardley is an ensemble member playwright at Victory Gardens Theater where his play The Gospel of Lovingkindness was produced in March 2014 and won the 2015 BTAA award for best play. Other scripts include The Road Weeps, the Well Runs Dry about the migration of Black Seminoles from Florida to Oklahoma, which had a national tour in 2014. Every Tongue Confess premiered at Arena Stage and was a recipient of the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award. His musical On The Levee premiered at LCT3/Lincoln Center Theater and this past July, Sound Theatre and Brownbox Theatre co-produced ...And Jesus Moonwalks the Mississippi in Seattle. He is the recipient of the 2011 Aetna New Voice Fellowship at Hartford Stage, the Hellen Merrill Award, a Kellsering Honor and the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award. Gardely holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Yale Drama School and is a member of New Dramatists, The Dramatists Guild, and The Lark Play Development Center. He is a professor of Playwriting at Brown University.

From Jamestown, Virginia, Mirror Stage's 11th FEED YOUR MIND season travels to Hades with a cast of 13 women in February 2016. Shrewd, funny, and insightful, The Penelopiad retells the myth of Odysseus from the point of view of the wandering hero's wife, and the maids he believed were disloyal and had hanged upon his return to Ithaca. Dead for millennia, Penelope and her 12 slain maids tell us their story from the underworld, as women who never stopped learning from experience and, even posthumously, are still doing so. The Penelopiad explores the effects of story-telling perspectives, double standards between the sexes and the classes, and the fairness of justice on February 6 & 7, 2016 at the Ethnic Cultural Theatre.

Margaret Atwood is the author of more than 40 volumes of poetry, children's literature, fiction, and non-fiction, but is best known for her novels, including The Edible Woman, The Handmaid's Tale, The Robber Bride, Alias Grace, and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Her latest work is a book of short stories called Stone Mattress: Nine Tales. Her newest novel, MaddAddam, is the final volume in a three-book series that began with Oryx and Crake and continued with The Year of the Flood. The Penelopiad was originally published as a novella in 2005, and a theatrical version was co-produced by the Canadian National Arts Centre and the Royal Shakespeare Company during the summer and fall of 2007. Atwood's most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. In Other Worlds: SF and the Human Imagination, a collection of non-fiction essays appeared in 2011. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth was adapted for the screen in 2012. Atwood studied at the University of Toronto and Radcliffe College, becoming a lecturer in English literature. Her work has been published in more than 40 different languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian.

From Ancient Greece, FEED YOUR MIND returns to Virginia in the mid-20th century in April 2016. The Hampton Years follows the development of John Biggers and Samella Lewis at the Hampton Institute (now University) in the 1940s under the tutelage of Jewish painter and educator Viktor Lowenfeld, who fled Austria in 1939. This richly researched portrait reveals the dreams and travails of burgeoning African-American artists in a still segregated society, as Lowenfeld struggles to establish an art department, teaching alongside Elizabeth Catlett. Named curator of the distinguished collection of Black African Art in 1945, Lowenfeld's passion, determination and talents introduced African-American Art to the United States. Playing April 9 & 10, 2016 (dates are yet to be confirmed and are subject to change), The Hampton Years celebrates how together, these passionate and brilliant artists rose above all that was standing in their way to create beautiful, poignant, and lasting works of art.

Jacqueline E. Lawton was named one of 30 of the nation's leading black playwrights by Arena Stage's American Voices New Play Institute. Her plays include: Anna K; Blood-bound and Tongue-tied; Deep Belly Beautiful; The Devil's Sweet Water; The Hampton Years; Ira Aldridge: the African Roscius; Lions of Industry, Mothers of Invention; Love Brothers Serenade (2013 semi-finalist for the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center's National Playwrights Conference); Mad Breed; and Our Man Beverly Snow. Lawton received her M.F.A. in playwriting from the University of Texas at Austin where she was a James A. Michener Fellow. She is a 2012 TCG Young Leaders of Color award recipient and a National New Play Network (NNPN) Playwright alumna. A member of Arena Stage's Playwrights' Arena and the Dramatist Guild of America, Lawton currently is an assistant professor in the Department of Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

The Ethnic Cultural Theatre is located at 3940 Brooklyn Ave NE in Seattle. Performances will be Saturday at 8:00pm and Sunday at 2:00pm. Admission is $15; $10 for students and seniors. Every performance has 10 Pay-What-You-Can rush tickets ($1 minimum). Free parking is available in University of Washington's lot W12, located at just south of the Ethnic Cultural Theater on Brooklyn Ave NE. For more information, visit

About Mirror Stage: Originally founded in 1991, Mirror Stage is a small professional theatre company reflecting the diversity of the community on stage in high quality, progressive, thought-provoking productions that play it smart without always playing it safe. The mission of Mirror Stage is to use the power of theatre to challenge assumptions, bias and prejudice, while encouraging more thoughtful reflection on today's issues. We nurture unique artistic voices while providing opportunities for newly emerging artists to work alongside more seasoned professionals. More at

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