Full casting and creative team is set for force/collision's world premiere of Shape by Erik Ehn. A play regarding Black vaudeville and the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921, Shape will play September 20- October 6 at Atlas Performing Arts Center's Sprenger Theatre before moving to La MaMa ETC in November where it will play in repertory with 16 other plays by Ehn called Soulographie: Our Genocides. Creative team includes playwright Erik Ehn (The Saint Plays, Maria Kizito), director John Moletress (2011 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Emerging Theatre as co-founder of Factory 449; 2012 Mayor's Arts Award finalist), set designer Collin Ranney (2012 Helen Hayes Award nominee), lighting designer Ariel J. Benjamin, Movement/Choreographer Ilana Faye Silverstein and sound designer Derek Knoderer. The cast includes force/collision ensemble members Dane Figueroa Edidi, Frank Britton, Karin Rosnizeck, Joshua Sticklin and guest actors Dexter Hamlett, Manu H. Kumasi, S. Lewis Feemster, Julia Smith, Alex Witherow and Luci Murphy.
Imagistic and defyingly theatrical, Shape begins in 1900 Ambrose Park, Brooklyn at the end days of “Black America”. “Black America” was a historically documented, vast spectacle of vaudeville dances, variety acts, folklore and songs with a cast of 500 African-Americans, in which they created a large-scale plantation in order to reenact the “joys of plantation life” (1895 New York Times article). Based loosely on the biographies of African-American vaudevillians Billy and Cordelia McClain, Shape concerns the life and labors of vaudevillian fairies exploited for their historical songs and dances, used by the dominant culture and abandoned at times of great need. Shape's larger context is on the genocidal ideology which destroyed the Greenwood district otherwise known as “Black Wall Street” during the 1921 Tulsa Race Riot.
This production will feature original music and dances generated by the force/collision ensemble.
Erik Ehn (Playwright) has written The Saint Plays, Heavenly Shades of Night Are Falling, Maria Kizito, No Time Like the Present, Wolf at the Door, Tailings, Beginner, Ideas of Good and Evil, and an adaptation of Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. He is an artistic associate at San Francisco’s Theatre of Yugen, most recently writingCrazy Horse for them, which combined Noh forms with Native American music and dance. His plays have been produced in San Francisco (Intersection, Thick Description, Yugen), Seattle (Annex, Empty Space), Austin (Frontera), New York (BACA, Whitney Museum), San Diego (Sledgehammer), Chicago (Red Moon), and elsewhere. He has a longstanding collaborative relationship with the Undermain Theater in Dallas, is co- founder of the Tenderloin Opera Company in San Francisco (with Lisa Bielawa), and is founder of the Arts in the One World Conference. He is a graduate of New Dramatists and the former dean of California Institute of the Arts School of Theater. He is head of Playwriting at Brown University.
John Moletress (Director) co-founded the Helen Hayes Award-winning Factory 449: a theatre collective in 2009 and force/collision in 2011. For Factory 449, he directed Sarah Kane's 4.48 Psychosis, Erik Ehn's The Saint Plays and Caridad Svich's Magnificent Waste. D.C.: Martin Zimmerman's Foreign Tongue (Source Theatre), Erik Ehn's What A Stranger May Know (Kennedy Center), Collapsing Silence (Source Theatre), The Nautical Yards (force/collision). Regional: Craig Wright's Mistakes Were Made (Stages Repertory Theatre), The Crucible (Tri-County Performing Arts Center), Pippin (Tri-County Performing Arts Center). John is a respondent for the Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival as well as a panelist for the National Playwriting Program. He is a member of the Society for Stage Directors and Choreographers, on faculty at George Mason University and a finalist for the 2012 Mayor's Arts Award.