Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister Plays has World Premiere at McCarter Theatre

 Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (photo credit: Greg Funnell)

Playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (photo credit: Greg Funnell)

Performances have begun at the Tony Award® -winning McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, New Jersey, for the world premiere of the groundbreaking trilogy The Brother/Sister Plays: by Tarell Alvin McCraney. McCraney’s trilogy is comprised of three distinct works – In the Red and Brown Water, The Brothers Size, and Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet-the landmark production, which has the theater world buzzing, will be directed by Tina Landau and Robert O’Hara.  Performances run through June 21.

All three plays will be performed by a single company of nine actors including Barnaby Carpenter, Samuel Ray Gates, Kimberly Hebert Gregory, Brian Tyree Henry, Marc Damon Johnson, Nikiya Mathis, Alano Miller, Kianne Muschett, and Heather Alicia Simms in McCarter’s Berlind Theater.

The three plays will be performed in repertory over the course of two evenings of theater (Evening 1: In the Red and Brown Water began performances on April 24; and Evening 2: The Brothers Size and Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet begins performances on May 15). In addition, there will be six “Marathon Weekends” featuring all three plays in one day on May 23, June 6, June 7, June 13, June 20 and June 21.

The design team includes sets by James Schuette, costumes by Karen Perry, lighting by Jane Cox and sound by Lindsay Jones.

The 28-year-old McCraney has been thrilling audiences on both sides of the Atlantic with his provocative and poetic plays. A recent graduate of The Yale School of Drama, he won the Cole Porter Playwriting Award upon graduation and has since garnered such accolades as  the 2007 Giles Whiting Award, the 2007 Kendeda Award, the inaugural Paula Vogel Playwriting Award, and London’s prestigious Evening Standard Award. He has also been named the International Writer in Residence for the Royal Shakespeare Company through 2010, a Hodder Fellowship at the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University and was awarded a seven-year residency at New Dramatists Center in New York.

Epic in scope yet intimate and genuine, Tarell Alvin McCraney’s The Brother/Sister Plays masterfully weaves together three stunning tales of family and legacy. On the banks of a steamy bayou, the tiny, fictional community of San Pere, Louisiana, springs to life with daring modern-day stories of love, sexuality, kinship, and coming-of-age. Steeped in southern rhythms, inspired by Afro-Caribbean culture, and seamed shut with urban music and dance, The Brother/Sister Plays provides a lyrical and mythic look at the search for identity in a contemporary world.

The first two components of his trilogy The Brother/Sister PlaysIn the Red and Brown Water and The Brothers Size-have been produced at venues including McCarter Theatre Center; Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre; New York’s Public Theater; London’s Young Vic Theatre; Dublin’s Abbey Theatre; as well as in Barcelona, Spain. The third part of the trilogy, Marcus; or The Secret of Sweet, which receive its world premiere in this production, has been selected as one of two Outstanding New American Plays from the NEA New Play Development Program, hosted by Arena Stage.  McCraney’s other plays include The Breach, about Hurricane Katrina, and the smash-hit Wig Out!, which just completed a successful run at New York’s Vineyard Theatre and earned a GLAAD nomination.

For tickets to The Brother/Sister Plays, please visit the McCarter Theatre Ticket Office at 91 University Place, Princeton, NJ; call (609) 258-2787; toll-free 1-888-278-7932; or online at www.mccarter.org.

For more information about Tarell Alvin McCraney or The Brother/Sister Plays, please visit www.mccarter.org/tarell.  Listen to the NPR’s All Things Considered story on the plays .

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