Mosaic Theater Co Opens Season 5 With FABULATION OR, THE RE-EDUCATION OF UNDINE
Mosaic Theater Company of DC announces its season opener, Fabulation Or, The Re-Education of Undine by Lynn Nottage, starring Helen Hayes Award winner (and two time HHA host) Felicia Curry in the title role, with a stellar supporting cast including Roz White (Mosaic's Marie and Rosetta) as Undine's mother, and Aakhu TuahNera Freeman as the Grandmother (Death of a Salesman at Ford's Theatre), directed by Eric Ruffin (director of the multiple Helen Hayes Award winning Black Nativity at Theatre Alliance). Mosaic is producing Fabulation at The Atlas Performing Arts Center from August 21 through September 22, 2109 to kick off its fifth season producing on H Street in Northeast DC.
The satirical tale follows successful African-American publicist Undine Barnes-Calles as she stumbles down the social ladder after her smooth-talking husband, Hervé steals her hard-earned fortune. Broke and now pregnant, Undine is forced to return to her childhood home in the projects, where she must face the realities of the life she left behind. Penned with "the firecracker snap of unexpected humor" (The New York Times), Fabulation is a comic comeuppance tale that reveals the folly of outrunning where we come from, and the challenge of returning home.
"Lynn Nottage is one of the most esteemed playwrights of our time," notes Mosaic Founding Artistic Director, Ari Roth, pointing to the playwright's body of work (Ruined, Sweat, Crumbs From the Table of Joy) which has been nationally relevant for three decades. "It promises to be another banner year for Lynn Nottage, as it was last season when Signature Theatre in New York made her the center of their season, producing several works including Fabulation, revealing the comedy's timeliness as a Reverse Gentrification journey along with its caustic critique of mad money materialism." This winter, one of Nottage's first breakout plays, Intimate Apparel, gets transformed into an opera at the Metropolitan Opera in co-production with Lincoln Center Theatre and staged by Broadway director Bartlett Sher.
"Fabulation is a highly textured, multi-faceted comedy that can be appreciated beyond its timeliness, to value the more powerful timelessness of its journey homeward," expounds Roth. "It's never received such a culturally-saturated, Africana-infused production as this, emphasizing the character's return to Yoruban roots, with a pan-African spirit enveloping each transition, underpinnings of which are solidly embedded in the text, but brought out more dominantly in Eric Ruffin's production for the play's DC debut."
Production Dramaturg Faedra Carpenter elaborates on the play's Yoruban influences, "Undine's foray into West African belief systems epitomizes the larger tale of Fabulation: a dramatic rumination duality and doubleness, paradox and contradiction, indeterminacy and uncertainty. In conjuring (Yoruban Deity) Elegba as both a metaphor and transitory spirit within her play, Lynn Nottage plays upon the deity's signature multiplicity. While the central premise of Elegba's duality can be found in countless examples of African American artistic expression, it also speaks profoundly to W.E.B DuBois' cultural theory of double-consciousness."
Notes Eric Ruffin, "Fabulation is titillating for me because of its constant display of contradictions. The sacred and profane; opulence and squalor; refinement and coarseness; rage and joy; beauty and the grotesque; chaos and stillness; passion and logic. It mirrors the ebb and flow of our lives. Undine is at a crossroads, unable to progress or evolve because of her choice to reject her familial ties, reject her identity. Her working class roots are the antithesis of the persona she's created. And, her ascension in America is without foundation, leaving her spiritually vapid. We aspire to rise up in the melting pot that is America. But at what cost . . ."
Bringing Ruffin's staging to life will be an all-star eight person ensemble taking on multiple roles. Featured in the title role is musical theater star Felicia Curry (and Helen Hayes Award winning actress for her role Factory 449's drama, Lela & Co). She is joined by Aakhu TuahNera Freeman in the role of Grandma (and others); Roz White in the role of Mother (and others); William T. Newman, Jr. (Father; Gospel at Colonus at WSC); Carlos Saldaña (Hervé; After The Revolution at Theater J); Lauryn Simone (Stephie; Children of Killers at Castillo Theatre); Kevin E. Thorne II (Flow; I Killed My Mother at Spooky Action); and James Whalen (the Accountant, After The War at Mosaic).
Further animating Ruffin's vision will be an expanded design team including set designer Andrew Cohen (Satchmo At The Waldorf for Mosaic); lighting designer John D. Alexander (Marie and Rosetta for Mosaic); costume designer, Moyenda Kulemeka (The Brothers Size at 1st Stage); sound designer Cresent R. Haynes (Emitted Visions Entertainment); rhythm and musical consultant, Christylez Bacon (Washington Sound Museum); and movement consultant, Rashida Bumbray (Funk, God, Jazz, and Medicine: Black Radical Brooklyn).
Following select performances of Fabulation, Mosaic will host a series of post-show discussions exploring resonant themes present in both works with a diverse set of panelists. These free post-show discussions, beginning immediately after the performance, include cast talkbacks on August 22, August 25, September 12, and September 19, and will cover topics such as:
- "Moving On Up: The Black Middle Class" (September 8, following the matinee)
- "Abandonment(s): Upward (and Downward) Mobility and Finding a Path Home" (September 14, following the matinee)
- "Self-Fashioning and/or Alter Egos" (September 7, following the matinee)
- "A Spotlight on Black Women Playwrights" (August 31, following the matinee)
A full list of discussion dates and discussant bios for Fabulation will be available on http://www.mosaictheater.org/discussions
FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: https://www.mosaictheater.org/fabulatio