Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Lia Chang: New Federal Theatre Presents Reading of Derek Walcott’s Marie Laveau on June 28 in New York

Lia Chang

Lia Chang

I’m delighted to be working again with Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre, acting in the Gurfein Foundation/Ntozake Shange Play Reading Series final play of the season, Derek Walcott’s fascinating play Marie Laveau, featuring music by Hair composer Galt MacDermot, on Sunday, June 28th at 3pm, at Castillo Theatre, 543 West 42nd St. (btwn 10th and 11th Aves) in New York.

In Walcott’s Marie Laveau, New Orleans madame and Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau attempts to wrest control of her brothel away from its white financier, unleashing a racial and religious storm that threatens to consume the city. With his customary feel for character and language, Derek Walcott expertly navigates the territory between two very different New Orleans—one Christian and the other animist.

Clinton Turner Davis directs a stellar cast featuring Marie Thomas as Marie Laveau, Arthur Bartow, Trazana Beverly, Tom Brangle, Gerard Catus, Hunter Canning, John Danelle, Brandon Dirden, DK Dyson, Steve Greenstein, Teresa Lasley, Harrison Lee, Mizan Nunes, Stu Richel, Martin Shakar, DeWanda Wise. Chapman Roberts is the musical arranger.

 (l-r) The cast of A TUNE BEYOND US or WHAT A REVOLTIN' DEVELOPMENT THIS IS! Arik Luck, Robert Paul Abelson, Edward Pomerantz, Sandra Kazan, Michael Citriniti and Lia Chang with New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr.

(l-r) The cast of A TUNE BEYOND US or WHAT A REVOLTIN' DEVELOPMENT THIS IS! Arik Luck, Robert Paul Abelson, Edward Pomerantz, Sandra Kazan, Michael Citriniti and Lia Chang with New Federal Theatre producer Woodie King Jr.

In February, I had a blast in a reading of Ed Pomerantz’s A Tune Beyond Us , presented by Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre, as part of the Gurfein Foundation/Ntozake Shange Play Reading Series. Shontina

(l-r) Andre De Shields, Kathy and Jim Gurfein of the Gurfein Foundation, at the reading of Edward Pomerantz's A TUNE BEYOND US or WHAT A REVOLTIN' DEVELOPMENT THIS IS! on February 15, 2009 at the Theatre at St. Clement's in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

(l-r) Andre De Shields, Kathy and Jim Gurfein of the Gurfein Foundation, at the reading of Edward Pomerantz's A TUNE BEYOND US or WHAT A REVOLTIN' DEVELOPMENT THIS IS! on February 15, 2009 at the Theatre at St. Clement's in New York. Photo by Lia Chang

Vernon’s A Lovely Malfunction; Levy Lee Simon’s Smell The Power; Josh Kashinsky’s Heel In The Sand, Cori Thomas’s Pa’s Hat and Liberian Liberation were among the other plays showcased. Derek Walcott’s Marie Laveau is the final play in the series this season.

Playwright Derek Walcott is the recipient of the 1992 Nobel Prize in Literature, and was born in Castries, Saint Lucia, the West Indies on January 23, 1930. At fourteen years of age, he published his first poem, “1944” in The Voice of St. Lucia, which consisted of 44 lines of blank verse. Walcott attended the University of the West Indies, on a Colonial Development and Welfare scholarship,

Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott (Photo by Lia Chang)

Nobel Laureate poet Derek Walcott (Photo by Lia Chang)


and in 1951 published the volume Poems. In 1957, he was awarded a fellowship by the Rockefeller Foundation to study the American theater. Walcott founded the Trinidad Theater Workshop, and has written several plays which have been produced throughout the United States, including The Odyssey: A Stage Version (1992); The Isle is Full of Noises (1982); Remembrance and Pantomime (1980); The Joker of Seville and O Babylon! (1978); Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays (1970); Three Plays: The Last Carnival; Beef, No Chicken; and A Branch of the Blue Nile (1969). His play Dream on Monkey Mountain won the Obie Award for distinguished foreign play of 1971. He founded Boston Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University in 1981. Walcott’s honors include a MacArthur Foundation “genius” award, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and, in 1988, the Queen’s Medal for Poetry. An honorary member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, the playwright currently divides his time between his home in St. Lucia and New York City.

Woodie King Jr. (Photo by Lia Chang)

Woodie King Jr. (Photo by Lia Chang)

Woodie King Jr. is the Founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre. Woodie King Jr’s New Federal Theatre has presented over 200 productions in its 39-year history. Mr. King has produced and directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in Regional theatres, and in universities across the United States. He co-produced For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (first produced by NFT and Joseph Papp’s Public Theatre), What The Wine Sellers Buy, Reggae and The Taking of Miss Janie (Drama Critics Circle Award).

To reserve tickets for Marie Laveau, call 212/353-1176. For more information, please visit www.newfederaltheatre.org.
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