Preshow, in the Deering lobby on the main floor, Memphis Gold played Traditional Rhthym Blues. On the fifth floor, early attendees noshed on complimentary hors d’oeuvres from Crème Restaurant at tables, while enjoying Traditional Rhythm and Blue Jazz/funk blends from Trina Coleman and her husband, guitarist Zachary Coleman; and in the Chapel Bar on the fourth floor, Jonny Grave played Hill Country Blues.
dance of the holy ghosts began previews on October 9, and performances will continue through November 17. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting www.centerstage.org.
Marcus Gardley’s acclaimed poetic family drama, dance of the holy ghosts, follows the story of Oscar Clifton, a Blues man living through his memories of the past until his estranged grandson Marcus pays a visit.
Leading the cast are veteran stage and screen stars Michael Genet as Oscar Clifton and Denise Burse as his wife, Viola Clifton. Mr. Genet’s many film and TV roles include working with Spike Lee on 25th Hour and She Hate Me, and his numerous Broadway productions include Fences, Lestat, Hamlet, and A Few Good Men. Denise Burse, best known for the role of Claretha Jenkins on the hit TBS series Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, returns to Center Stage, having previously appeared in August Wilson’s Radio Golf and Fences.
The cast also features Sheldon best as Oscar’s grandson, Marcus, chandra thomas as Darlene, Jasmine Carmichael as Tanisha, and Broadway vet Doug Eskew (The Color Purple, Five Guys Named Moe, Truly Blessed), who previously appeared in Center Stage’s production of Ain’t Misbehavin’, as Willie, Father Michael and Bluesy Tux.
Marcus Gardley is an award-winning poet-playwright whose most recent play, Every Tongue Confess, received the Edgerton Foundation New Play Award and was nominated for the Steinberg New Play Award and the Charles MacArthur Award. His many honors include a 2011 PEN/Laura Pels Award, the Gerbode Emerging Playwright Award, the National Alliance for Musical Theatre Award, and the Eugene O’Neill Memorial Scholarship. He is a professor of Playwriting at Brown University, and in 2012 was commissioned to write for Center Stage’s My America.
Tracie Thoms and Sakina Ansari-Wilson were on hand to celebrate at the opening night party with the cast and creative team.
As soon as the curtain fell, Gardley left his opening night to take the train to Providence, RI, where he was scheduled to teach a class at Brown University the next morning. Below are excerpts from a message from Gardley, read aloud by Catherine Maria Rodriguez, his dramaturg.
“I’m sorry that I could not be with you tonight. I have to catch some speed aboard a train bound for young minds. I have to teach an early class in Providence and will not make it unless I leave now. But I want to thank you for dancing with me tonight. We have raised the ghosts. We have laughed between tears, we have hoped for the hopeless, and you have heard the most intimate details of my life. All of it is true. Tanisha is real…”
“I wrote this play because I never knew my grandfather. He died when I was 4 years old. So I wrote this blues rift for him, put pieces of his story together. The women in his family were haunted by his memory. They loved him, and loved to hate him, and loved him in private – in hums and whispers, between teeth and giggles when they remembered how he loved to curse and sing. This play is for them and for him, and for those that have left their marks on our hearts. I hope you enjoyed the dance. I know it wasn’t easy. The steps are hard, the music is often out of key, and the laughter eventually fades. But it is life, is it not? I believe in us. I believe we can show up in one another. I believe that our angels guide us to one another, and I believe in this cast and director. Kwami is a warrior for good, and this dramaturg, and Sam and Laura and the Center Stage family, I believe we told a story, I believe that people were moved. And I believe that although the government can be shut down, we’ve got to keep moving. We have to keep encouraging one another and we have to keep showing up for our children. You all have blessed me tonight. I thank you. My grandparents thank you. This toast is for you. God bless you all.”
Click here to see the video interview with Marcus Gardley.
dance of the holy ghosts, directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, has performances at Center Stage, 700 North Calvert Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21202. Center Stage is located in the heart of Baltimore’s historic Mount Vernon Cultural District, just two blocks east of the iconic Washington Monument and 10 blocks north of Harborplace. Tickets start at $19 and can be purchased by calling 410.332.0033, or visiting www.centerstage.org. Full information on the season can be found at www.centerstage.org/2013-14season.
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Center Stage Photo Preview: Denise Burse and Michael Genet in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts, Opens October 16, 2013
Oct. 9 – Nov. 17: Denise Burse and Michael Genet Star in Marcus Gardley’s dance of the holy ghosts at Center Stage
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