Tonya PInkins Photo by Lia Chang
“I cannot stress enough how significant THE FIRE THIS TIME FESTIVAL
has been in helping emerging artists like myself cultivate and share new work in New York City,” said award-winning playwright Camille Darby, who returned to The Festival for the second consecutive year with a staged reading of her play Lords Resistance
, starring Tony Award winner Tonya Pinkins
(Caroline, or Change
; “All My Children”), Billy Eugene Jones (Passing Strange
; Radio Golf
), Matthew Murumba (Kofi
, Law and Order
), and 2007 Princess Grace Award Recipient Toccarra Cash (Bonfire Night
, The Roxy’s and Bleu
), in The Kraine Theatre in the East Village of Manhattan on January 18, 2012, directed by Christopher Burris.
Billy Eugene Jones. Photo by Lia Chang
Last year, Ms. Darby’s play, Exodus
was featured in THE FIRE THIS TIME FESTIVAL 2011
, an alternative showcase that supports early-career playwrights of African descent to explore new voices, styles and challenging new directions for contemporary theatre. Ms. Darby is the recipient of the 2008 Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) playwriting prize from the Bronx Council on the Arts for Lords Resistance
, which was among 6 full length plays to have staged readings this season.
Toccarra Cash, Matthew Murumba, Tonya Pinkins and Billy Eugene Jones. Photo by Lia Chang
In Lords Resistance
, all is right for the Whitakers, or so it appears. When their adopted teenage son, and former child solider Okello arrives, this family reveals that they are much less than perfect. Both a victim and perpetrator of Uganda’s civil unrest which spans over two decades, Okello finally gets the opportunity to replace the terrifying memories of his past with new beginnings in an upper class suburb outside of Chicago. But it isn’t long before the Whitakers witness the chilling effects of the war that haunts Okello. Michelle Whitaker, an eager freshman at Northwestern, hoping to connect and redefine herself through her new brother, probes him with questions he refuses to answer. While he does everything to rid himself of his past, Okello is in the midst of yet another war within the Whitaker household—a war fought silently between husband Harvey, and wife Pauline. Losing the ability to conceive her own child, a determined Pauline does everything to make Okello her own, even at the expense of her marriage. A questionable relationship between mother and son develops leaving the family divided in a way that could leave permanent damage for everyone.
Lords Resistance playwright Camille Darby and her playwright Christopher Burris. Photo by Lia Chang
Camille Darby, a 2011 finalist for the Van Lier Fellowship program at The Lark Play Development Center, was born in Jamaica, West Indies, but migrated to New York City with her family at 6 years old. Her constant attempts at adjusting to American culture—she soon discovered—were best manifested through her writing. It was her first play Mother, May I?
written as a high school student during the Theatre Development Fund’s Residency Arts Program that drew the attention of acclaimed playwright, Wendy Wasserstein. With the guidance and encouragement of Ms. Wasserstein, the budding playwright continued to study theatre, literature and film at Sarah Lawrence College where she received her B.A. in 2005. Ms. Darby holds an M.F.A (2007) in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s, Tisch School of the Arts, and during that time, has had readings at The Public Theatre. Camille Plays
Billy Eugene Jones, Jamyl Dobson, Toccarra Cash, Camille Darby, Tonya Pinkins, Matthew Murumba and Christopher Burris. Photo by Lia Chang
“It has been refreshing and inspiring,” said Ms. Darby. “It has made me reach a new level of pride and confidence in my work, and has also given me a renewed sense of hope that black playwrights will be seen and heard.”
Other articles by Lia Chang
Reading of Camille Darby’s Lords Resistance Stars Tonya Pinkins, Billy Eugene Jones, Tocarra Cash and Matthew Murumba at The Red Room on January 18
Camille Darby’s Lord’s Resistance
Mu Daiko 15th Anniversary Concert and Minnesota Tour, February 9-19, 2012
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