Photo Flash: First Look at Mosaic's World Premiere Production of QUEENS GIRL IN AFRICA
The fifth production of Mosaic Theater Company's third season will be Queens Girl in Africa, written by DC playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings, staged by up-and- coming director Paige Hernandez, and starring Helen Hayes Award winner Erika Rose. This funny, moving, one-woman show tells the story of spunky New York-born heroine Jaqueline Marie Butler's teenage years in civil-war torn Nigeria as she navigates her new home, her budding activist beliefs, and her first love.
"Queens Girl in Africa exemplifies so many of our Mosaic values," says founding Artistic Director Ari Roth. "It's a world premiere commission that honors a longstanding relationship with a writer of distinction-in this case, an esteemed African-American playwright who has been a beloved creator, educator, and voice of integrity in the DC theater community for decades, Caleen Sinnette Jennings. Caleen has an urgent story to tell about the forces pulling at a young woman's identity as she comes of age on the continent of her ancestors' origins. Yet she and her activist parents find themselves at odds with a Nigerian society increasingly divided by post-colonial chaos and long-standing tribal enmity. There is a very personal search in this play (Jaqueline's quest to find friends and to fit in), alongside a larger sociological quest-a family's aspirations to find a feeling of home amongst their native countrymen at a time when the country is falling apart. This epic quest is being brought to life by one of DC's finest actors, Erika Rose, in a stunning solo performance that encompasses dozens of characters (and dialects)! In addition, we are very proud that our contribution to the DC Women's Voices Theater Festival is a follow- up to one of the most celebrated productions of the inaugural Women's Voices Theater Festival, Queens Girl in the World."
Jennings, Hernandez, and Rose are joined by an all-star design team: Deb Sivigny (set and costume design), Sarah Tunderman (lighting and projection design), and David Lamont Wilson (sound design).
Noted playwright Caleen Sinnette Jennings: "It's very moving for me to be giving birth to this incredibly personal new play surrounded by such talented and passionate collaborators - including director Paige Hernandez who helped usher forth Queens Girl in The World, which was commissioned by Ari Roth at Theater J back in 2014. It's wonderful to be reunited with him and with a dear collaborator, Erika Rose, one of DC's most powerful and versatile actors. This semi-autobiographical play is a tribute to the huge, beautiful, complex Nigeria of the 1960s and how it made me who I am."
Director Paige Hernandez added: "Erika Rose is a tremendous and versatile actress whose heart and work ethic never cease to amaze me. I'm thrilled that we get to work together in this capacity. She and I were students together at the University of Maryland College Park so this connection is truly full circle. I'm also fortunate to have such an incredible design team. We've all worked together on various projects which makes our collaboration even more meaningful. I'm excited for the audience to see how much a thoughtful design can really make a solo show soar."
In addition to being Mosaic's offering to the Women's Voices Theater Festival, Queens Girl in Africa also formally kicks off the theater's new Locally Grown Mosaic initiative, which will commission new works by DC playwrights.
"Locally Grown Mosaic is designed to invest in our diverse artistic community right here in DC, to promote local artists and perspectives, and to produce works that jumpstart conversations about issues directly influencing our neighborhood," continued Roth. "We are thrilled to be launching this initiative with Queens Girl in Africa, which will highlight and champion the incredible talents of a local playwright, director, actor, and design team."
Weekly Schedule: performs Wednesday-Friday at 8 PM; Saturday at 3 PM and 8 PM; Sunday at 3 PM and 7:30 PM
Ticket Prices: $20-$65
Special Performances and Post Show Discussions: PWYC preview on January 4 at 8 PM; Weekday Matinees at 11 AM on January 11 and February 1. A full list of discussion dates and discussant bios will be available on mosaictheater.org/discussions.