Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Project1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY 2016 NYC Flagship 30th Anniversary Benefit Staged Reading of Award-Winning THE COLOR MUSEUM at Kumble Theater on June 20

OVER 40 THEATER COMPANIES, MUSEUMS AND OTHER DIVERSE INSTITUTIONS
WILL PARTICIPATE IN THIS ONE NIGHT ONLY INTERNATIONAL SALUTE TO
AMERICAN THEATRE WITH 30th ANNIVERSARY BENEFIT STAGED READINGS OF THE AWARD-WINNING THE COLORED MUSEUM BY GEORGE C. WOLFE

 the-colored-museum-791x1024New York, NY (March 21, 2016) – Project1VOICE is set to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of the award-winning, The Colored Museum written by two-time Tony award-winning theater polymath and director/writer of Broadway’s Shuffle Along, George C. Wolfe. The flagship presentation will take place on June 20th at Kumble Theater in Brooklyn on the campus of Long Island University at 7PM. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased at www.kumbletheater.org or by calling 718-488-1624. The directors for the New York flagship presentation include Carl Cofield, Timothy Douglas, Andre Garner, Kent Gash, Billy Eugene Jones, Niegel Smith, Tonya Pinkins, Awoye Timpo, Lorna Ventura and Nicole Watson. This event will be ASL interpreted. The benefit staged reading will be produced as part of the 6th annual Project1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY. Staged readings will also be presented in association with theater companies, museums and other diverse educational, artistic and social institutions throughout the US and abroad, on Sunday, June, 19 and Monday, June 20,, 2016.  Check your local listings for exact dates and times.

Project1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY is an internationally recognized cultural event committed to presenting programs and initiatives that promote and support the American theater specifically black playwrights. Since Project1VOICE’s inception in 2009, it has played a vital role in making theater accessible to communities, connecting with a widely diverse spectrum of artists, teens, and families through its robust educational initiatives and public programs which have prompted cross-cultural conversations for diverse audiences. This year’s Project1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY will explore the themes of race, gender, sexuality, history and identity in 21st century.

George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum premiered at the Crossroads Theatre Company of New Jersey on March 26, 1986 with direction by Crossroads’ Founding Artistic Director Lee Kenneth Richardson, music composed and arranged by Kathryn Bostic and choreography by Hope Clark. This play helped put both Crossroads and George C. Wolfe on the national map. Within six months of its premier the play found a new home at the Public Theater in New York City.   Told through a series of 11 exhibits, The Colored Museum explores the journey of self-identification, which shows both black history and the impact of African culture within America. Satire and dark comedy are used to expose the audience to a different look into the identity crisis that people of African descent struggle with. The Colored Museum was later performed at the Royal Court Theater in London, England, beginning July 29, 1987. It has now been produced in cities around the world.

The Colored Museum, for all its humor, is filled with drama with what Wolfe calls “pure unadulterated metaphor,” distillations of black experience that he believes are specific and evocative enough to resonate far beyond their time and place. “As a person of color, I was trained from very early on to see Leave it to Beaver, Gilligan’s Island, or Hamlet and look beyond the specifics of it — whether it was silly white people on an island, or a family living in Nowheres, or a Danish person — to leap past the specifics and find the human truths that have to do with me,” Wolfe says. “I’m interested: is the reverse possible? Can people who are not of color leap past the specifics of who these people are and get inside the dynamic of who they are as individuals?”

In his review of the original 1986 off-Broadway production of The Colored Museum, New York Times theatre critic Frank Rich stated the play’s central question — “How do American Black men and women at once honor and escape the legacy of suffering that is the baggage of their past?” Playwright George C. Wolfe faced this loaded question head-on in his play, embracing its paradoxical nature by creating a work of dramatic art he described as part “exorcism, part party, and wholly satirical.” The purpose of satire is to entertain while simultaneously raising awareness by asking oft-ignored questions, presenting stereotypes for examination, and revealing truth and hypocrisy by dabbling in extremes. In The Colored Museum, Wolfe juxtaposes facets of African-American cultural history, both politically correct and not, which results in a biting comedic exploration of what it means to be black in America.

The Colored Museum explores the contradictions and complexities of black life–its powerful beauty, intellect, pain, and pleasure–while simultaneously empowering the universality of the narrative. This provides a rich opportunity to search, explore and empower identity.  Who are we? How do we see and identity ourselves and others? How do others see and identify us? What parts of our past—our history— do we take with us as we move forward? This event has been 30 years in the making and I am ecstatic that Project1VOICE is taking the lead on this multi-layered conversation about race, gender and identity. George C. Wolfe is an American theater treasure who masterfully weaves drama, satire and social commentary with thought-provoking seamlessness.   His truth always dares us to firmly stand greatly—unapologetically beautiful and brash as we truly are,” says Project1VOICE founder and event coordinator, Erich McMillan-McCall.

Each staged reading will feature a wide spectrum of diverse creative talents with up to 6 directors and up to 20 actors. In New York City, The Colored Museum will be presented in multiple boroughs on the same day. Project1VOICE HONORS recipients and a complete listing of casts and creative team members in each participating city will follow.  For additional information and to peruse an evolving list of participating organizations visit www.Project1VOICE.org. The Colored Museum is presented with special permission granted by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

George C. Wolfe won Tony Awards for his direction of the musical Bring in ‘da Noise, Bring in ‘da Funk and for Tony Kushner’s Angel’s in America: Millennium Approaches. His additional Broadway productions include Lucky Guy; The Normal Heart; A Free Man of Color; Topdog/Underdog; The Tempest; Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992; Angels in America: Perestroika; the musicals Caroline, or Change; The Wild Party; On The Town; Jelly’s Last Jam; and Elaine Stritch’s one-woman show At Liberty. Producer of the Public Theater/New York Shakespeare Festival from 1993-2005, he also wrote the award-winning The Colored Museum, adapted/directed Spunk (Obie Award), created Harlem Song for the Apollo Theater, and conceived/directed “A Broadway Celebration of the American Musical at the White House.” He directed the films You’re Not You and “Lackawanna Blues” (HBO), for which he won the Directors Guild Award, a National Board of Review Award, a Christopher Award, and the Humanitas Prize. His most recent is the re-imaging of the 1921 musical Shuffle Along now playing at the Music Box Theatre on Broadway.

ABOUT PROJECT1VOICE

Project1VOICE, Inc. (P1V) is a 501(c) (3), nonprofit performing arts service organization based in New York City. Its mission is to promote and support black theater, including black playwrights.  The company was founded and is now led by Erich McMillan-McCall, who also serves as one of the company’s three trustees.  P1V was formed after the 2009 economic downturn, to bring national attention to the growing plight of black theater companies and the growing under-appreciation of works by certain black playwrights—both emerging and established.   P1V’s core activity is the coordination of an international, same-day, staged reading series that revives and reintroduces, neglected, forgotten and/or under-appreciated, seminal works written by black playwrights for the American theater.  The success of this central program called Project1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY has also prompted other programs.  These include (a) P1V 2.0—an Online Book Club, (b) P1V Conversations with Pioneers, (c) P1V Honors—a celebration of outstanding achievements in the American theater and (d) P1V arts-related workshops.

From its inaugural presentation in 2011 to the present, P1V has experienced exponential growth in (a) the number of participating theaters—now, at 45, (b) the number of coordinated events—over 200, (c) the number of participating countries including the United States—now, at 3, and (d) the number of audience participants, including live-stream viewers  To date, participating United States organizations have included League of Resident Theatres (LORT) members, black theater companies and museums, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Actors’ Equity Association, the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS (NBLCA), the Black Theater Network and the National Urban League along with other diverse educational, artistic and social institutions, both nationally and internationally.

In New York City, P1V produces flagship staged readings in addition to seminars and other events.  P1V-coordinated staged play readings have prompted full main stage productions at LORT theaters.  P1V has accomplished all of its work with a minimal annual operating budget. The company’s robust initiatives and programs have proven to be essential to the maintenance and creative vigor of an important sector of the English speaking theater.

For more information about Project1VOICE visit www.project1voice.org

Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang. Photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.comJade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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