An Octoroon

Posted in Arts, Live Events, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2017-08-05 21:28Z by Steven

An Octoroon

Woolly Mammoth Theater
641 D Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20004
Telephone: 202-393-3939

2017-07-17 through 2017-08-06

By Branden Jacobs-Jenkins
Directed by Nataki Garrett

Last year’s most talked-about, most unforgettable production is returning to Woolly for a limited three-week run: An Octoroon by new MacArthur “Genius Grant”-winner Branden Jacobs-Jenkins!

A plantation on the brink of foreclosure. A young gentleman falling for the part-black daughter of the estate’s owner. An evil swindler plotting to buy her for himself. Meanwhile, the slaves are trying to keep things drama-free, because everybody else is acting crazy.

An Octoroon, Jacobs-Jenkins’ Obie-winning riff on a 19th century melodrama that helped shape the debate around the abolition of slavery, is an incendiary adaptation. Part period satire, part meta-theatrical middle finger, it’s a provocative challenge to the racial pigeonholing of 1859—and of today.

Featuring company members Shannon Dorsey, Jon Hudson Odom, and Erika Rose

Two and a half hours, with one intermission

For more information, click here.

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Nothing is black and white in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s ‘An Octoroon’

Posted in Articles, Literary/Artistic Criticism, Media Archive, Passing, Slavery, United States on 2016-06-09 15:31Z by Steven

Nothing is black and white in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’s ‘An Octoroon’

The Washington Post

Peter Marks, Theater critic

Jon Hudson Odom, left, as George, Maggie Wilder, center, as Dora and Kathyrn Tkel as Zoe in “An Octoroon.” (Scott Suchman)

“Hi, everyone, I’m a black playwright!” the actor Jon Hudson Odom exclaims at the outset of “An Octoroon,” Branden Jacobs-­Jenkins’s acerbically virtuosic skewering of America’s perpetually festering racial anxieties.

Before long, Odom, shedding the guise of the dramatist — who goes by the initials “BJJ” — is applying white-face makeup to portray the roles of both the altrustic heir to a broke Southern plantation and his racist archnemesis, in the “black playwright’s” new version of a 19th-century slavery melodrama. “I couldn’t find any more white guys to play the white guys’ parts,” BJJ confesses, explaining that white guys have qualms these days about embodying people who own other people. He’s unapologetic, though, about having his assistant (Joseph Castillo-Midyett) put on blackface to play house slave Pete, while the white Irish author of the original melodrama (James Konicek) materializes to smear on garish red makeup to become the Native American character, Wahnotee.

Jacobs-Jenkins, a Washington-born playwright and Pulitzer Prize finalist this year for his tragicomic workplace drama “Gloria,” is looking with a jaundiced eye in “An Octoroon” at the mechanics of “The Octoroon,” the 1859 “sensation drama” by Dion Boucicault that inspired Jacobs-Jenkins’s play. Simultaneously he’s highlighting the collective skittishness of our time over labels and racial identity and who has permission to say what about whom. By pla­cing black actors in whiteface and Latino actors in blackface and white actors in redface, he’s for­cing the rest of us to consider in the starkest terms the impact of society’s relentless color-sorting — conscious or otherwise…

Read the entire article here.

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