Prize Award Finalist "Yellowman"
Trinity Rep in Providence will present Dael Orlandersmith’s complex coming-of-age drama, "Yellowman," from February 25 – April 3 in the Dowling Theatre. Award-winning Laurie Carlos directs.
Set in a small, predominantly African-American South Carolina town, the play (a Pulitzer Prize finalist) follows Eugene and Alma grow up together and fall in love. However, their romance is challenged by prejudice within both the African-American community and their own families. While both Eugene and Alma are black, Eugene’s skin is lighter than Alma’s, and what seems on the surface to be a small distinction, makes a world of difference.
Playwright Dael Orlandersmith stated in an interview with McCarter Theater staff in 2002 that she knew that her piece would generate controversy. Apart from its passionate love story, the play deals with “colorism” within the African American community, meaning valuing a lighter skin color over a darker one.
“Any time you talk about race, it’s a risky thing," she commented. "This one is tough; it’s a volatile subject. But I’m here to be a mental and emotional traveler and I’m not here to necessarily be a crowd pleaser. People need to understand that this is a story, not the story.”
Resident acting company member Joe Wilson Jr.
plays the strong-willed Eugene, a light-skinned boy growing up in South
Carolina’s Gullah region. Eugene’s relationship with his family
and with his self-worth is complicated by the fact that his father is
a dark-skinned, burly working man while Eugene takes after his delicate,
light-skinned mother. While this brings him social advantages that dark-skinned
Alma (Rachel Christopher) is not privy to, it causes
friction within his family as he grows up and strains against society’s
expectations to become his own man. Alma’s world is made difficult
not just by the color of her skin, but by her hateful, alcoholic mother.
Artistic Director Curt Columbus commented, “We are so thrilled to have Laurie Carlos with us as director on this project. Her intimate knowledge of the works of Dael Orlandersmith, her long-standing collaboration with company member Joe Wilson Jr., and her incredible theatrical passion make her a perfect fit with this piece, and with Trinity Rep. I cannot wait for our audiences to see the work of such an important American theater artist."
Dael Orlandersmith’s other plays include "Liar,
Liar," "Beauty’s Daughter (OBIE Award)," "Monster,"
"The Gimmick," "Raw Boys," and "Stoop
Stories." Her plays have been produced by McCarter
Theatre, Wilma Theater, Long Wharf Theatre, American Place Theatre
and New York Theatre Workshop, among others.
-- OnStage Boston
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