Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Eisa Davis’ “ANGELA’S MIXTAPE” — New Georges and Hip-Hop Theater Festival at the Ohio

Left to right: Eisa Davis (as Eisa), Denise Burse (Grandma), Ayesha Ngaujah (Cess), Kim Brockington (Mommy), and Linda Powell (Angela) in Eisa Davis' "Angela's Mixtape," presented by New Georges and Hip-Hop Theater Festival at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street (between Spring and Broome Streets). The production is directed by Liesl Tommy. Performances runs through May 2, 2009. Photo credit: Jim Baldassare.

Left to right: Eisa Davis (as Eisa), Denise Burse (Grandma), Ayesha Ngaujah (Cess), Kim Brockington (Mommy), and Linda Powell (Angela) in Eisa Davis' "Angela's Mixtape," presented by New Georges and Hip-Hop Theater Festival at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street (between Spring and Broome Streets). The production is directed by Liesl Tommy. Performances runs through May 2, 2009. Photo credit: Jim Baldassare.


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New Georges, the OBIE Award-winning downtown theater company founded in 1992, and Hip-Hop Theater Festival are presenting the premiere of OBIE Winning Actress/Pulitzer-nominated playwright Eisa Davis’ “ANGELA’S MIXTAPE,” directed by Liesl Tommy. Ms. Davis who was recently seen on Broadway in last season’s award-winning musical Passing Strange portrays herself and Linda Powell, last seen on

Eisa Davis and Linda Powell in Angela's Mixtape. (Photo by Jim Baldassare)

Eisa Davis and Linda Powell in Angela's Mixtape. (Photo by Jim Baldassare)

Broadway in the Tony-nominated revival On Golden Pond, portrays her aunt, professor and activist Angela Davis. “ANGELA’S MIXTAPE” has performances through May 2 at the Ohio Theatre, 66 Wooster Street (between Spring and Broome Streets).

Using the rhythms of music and memory, in “ANGELA’S MIXTAPE”  Eisa tells the story of a radical upbringing on the dividing line between Oakland and Berkeley, California–in a family that includes her aunt, professor and activist Angela Davis. Time shifts between the 70s, 80s, and 90s as smoothly as a DJ fading from song to song. Each track, each memory, has a built-in switch to the next, for theatrical momentum that keeps on building. Crossing cultural borders as it scratches through time, the play moves from Angela’s hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, to the House of Detention where she was once held prisoner, to the playgrounds of Eisa’s Bay Area public schools, the dorm rooms of the Ivy League and the shores of Senegal. The music crosses styles and decades, but it’s hip-hop and a b-girl stance that keeps the piece bouncing in the present. It’s just your average black macrobiotic revolutionary dancing family.

Eisa Davis (Photo by Jim Baldassare)

Eisa Davis (Photo by Jim Baldassare)

Eisa Davis is a writer and performer whose plays include Bulrusher (2007 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Warriors Don’t Cry, Hip Hop Anansi, Paper Armor, Six Minutes and Umkovu. She is a resident playwright at New Dramatists, and her playwriting honors include the Helen Merrill Award and the John Lippman New Frontier Award. This summer, her play The History of Light will be presented at the Contemporary American Theater Festival in West Virginia. As an actor she won an OBIE for her performance=2 0in Stew and Heidi Rodewald’s Public Theater/ Berkeley Repertory Theatre production of Passing Strange, which also moved to Broadway. Film director Spike Lee filmed the final three Broadway Passing Strange performances and premiered the film at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Eisa has starred in many theatrical productions in New York and at regional theatres around the country. On Broadway she was also seen in The Violet Hour, and Off-Broadway in Belize and June and Jean in Concert. Her television appearances include: “The Wire,” “Law & Order,” and “Soul Food.” Film appearances include: Passing Strange, Welcome to the Rileys, Robot Stories, The Architect, Confess, Apparition of the Eternal Church, and Happenstance. As a singer-songwriter, her solo debut full-length album Something Else is available online at i-Tunes and CD Baby.

Director Liesl Tommy comes to this production directly from having helmed the Public Theater’s world premiere production of Tracey Scott Wilson’s The Good Negro. Other New York theater credits include Split Ends at La MaMa E.T.C.; the one-acts Bus and Our Children from the Play Company’s Romania. Kiss Me! Play Festival at 59E59; Quiara Alegría Hudes’ Adventures of Barrio Grrrl at Arielle Tepper’s Summer Play Festival; Lynn Nottage’s A Stone’s Throw at Women’s Project; and Kia Corthron’s Dual at Sanctuary Playwrights’ Theatre. She has also directed at regional theaters across the country including Trinity Rep, Dallas Theatre Center, Hartford Stage, the Sundance Theatre Institute, and the Berkshire Theatre Festival. She is a proud native of Cape Town, South Africa.

Denise Burse (Photo by Lia Chang)

(Photo by Lia Chang)

The cast for “ANGELA’S MIXTAPE” includes: Eisa Davis (as Eisa), Linda Powell (Angela), Kim Brockington (Mommy), Denise Burse (Grandma and other characters), and Ayesha Ngaujah (Cess and other characters). Ms. Powell made her Broadway debut in the Tony-nominated revival of Wilder, Wilder, Wilder at Circle in the Square. Other noteworthy NY theater credits include: The Overwhelming at the Roundabout; Ominium Gatherum at Variety Arts; Jar the Floor at Second Stage;Jitney at Union Square Theater and Finder’s Fee at Rattlestick. Ms. Brockington’s New York theater credits include Zora Neale Hurston at the American Place Theatre; Holiday Heart at Manhattan Theatre Club; and Killa Dilla at the Working Theatre. Ms. Burse is perhaps best known for her role of Claretha Jenkins on the television series Tyler Perry’s House of Payne. Her numerous stage appearances have included roles in Radio Golf, Fences, Miss Evers’ Boys, and An American Daughter; and Ms. Ngaujah portrayed Eisa in the Synchronicity Performance Group production of Angela’s Mixtape, and at the Alliance Theater she portrayed Red Dog in Allison Gregory and Steven Dietz’s adaptation of P.D. Eastman’s GoDog Go! With set design by Clint Ramos; costume design by Jessica Jahn; lighting design by Sarah Sidman; and sound design by Jane Shaw.

“ANGELA’S MIXTAPE” is being presented with New Georges and Hip-Hop Theater Festival as a joint world premiere with Synchronicity Performance Group (Atlanta), who produced it in 2008.
www.newgeorges.org
www.hhtf.org

Performances are Mondays through Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. The opening night performance on Thursday, April 9 will start at 7:00 pm. Tickets are $20.00 for general admission (including students and seniors), with a $35.00 reserved premium ticket also available. Monday night performances are “pay-what-you-will” at the door only. TDF vouchers will be accepted. The box office number for reservations is 212-868-4444 orwww.smarttix.com. For more infor mation and group rates call 646-336-8077.
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This entry was posted on April 7, 2009 by in African American Artists, Entertainment, New York, Theater.
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