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Event Calendar

Trouble in Mind

SEP 9 – OCT 23, 2011

By Alice Childress
Directed by Irene Lewis

Featuring E. Faye Butler
Illustration by Nathan Fox

in the Kreeger

Who's Who

CAST (in alphabetical order)

Starla BenfordSTARLA BENFORD (Millie Davis) is thrilled to make her Arena debut. Other DC: Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare). Broadway/Off-Broadway: Macbeth and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof (Music Box), A Streetcar Named Desire (Roundabout), Vagina Monologues (Westside Arts), Macbeth (TFANA), Stonewall Jackson’s House (American Place; Obie, Outer Critics nom). Regional/Tour: Romeo & Juliet (Shakespeare & Co.); The Oresteia, Media Amok (ART); A Streetcar Named Desire (Cleveland); From the Mississippi Delta (Stamford TheatreWorks; Conn. Critics Award); The Venetian Twins (Guthrie); Death of a Salesman (Yale Rep); Trouble in Mind (CenterStage), Hold Please (Old Globe), Vagina Monologues (1st national; League of Broadway nom). Intl.: Doubt (Irish premiere, Abbey). Film/TV: United 93; Half Nelson; 13; A Perfect Murder; Nurse Jackie; Law & Order: SVU/CI; 3 lbs.; Third Watch; Rescue Me; and numerous daytime dramas. Grad of ART at Harvard. Proud member of Actors’ Equity. back

E. Faye ButlerE. FAYE BUTLER (Wiletta Mayer) is excited to return home to Arena. Previously at Arena: Oklahoma!, Crowns, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Polk County, and Dinah Was. Other DC: Gospel According to Fishman, Saving Aimee (Signature); Take Joy (Strathmore); The Great Gatsby, Moon Until June (Washington Ballet/Kennedy Center). Regional: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Once on This Island, Caroline or Change, Trouble in Mind (CenterStage); Crumbs from the Table of Joy (Steppenwolf); Christmas Carol, Purlie (Goodman); The Wiz (La Jolla). Tours: Dinah Was, Mamma Mia, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Don’t Bother Me I Can’t Cope, Nunsense, Nunsense 2. Awards: Helen Hayes, John Barrymore, nine Joseph Jefferson, three Black Theater Alliance, Ovation, Excellence in the Arts, After Dark. She’s a proud member of Actors’ Equity. back

Thomas Jefferson ByrdTHOMAS JEFFERSON BYRD (Sheldon Forrester). Broadway: Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Theatre World Award, Tony nom). Regional: Crowns (Arizona Theatre, ATL, Portland Center Stage); Gem of the Ocean (ATL); Spunk (San Diego Rep); Two Trains Running, The Piano Lesson, Flyin’ West, Hamlet, Miss Evers’ Boys (Indiana Rep); Good Boys (ACT); The Darker Face of the Earth (Oregon Shakespeare). Film/TV: Ray; X, Y; Bamboozled; Bulworth; Clockers; Get on the Bus; He Got Game; Set It Off; MacArthur Park (Sundance nom); Lackawanna Blues (HBO); Living Single; Mama Flora’s Family; Passing Glory; Boycott; Law & Order: Criminal Intent. back

Brandon J. DirdenBRANDON J. DIRDEN (John Nevins) is excited to make his Arena Stage and D.C. area debut. On Broadway, Brandon was in Enron and the revival of Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway, Brandon was in Peter and the Starcatchers (NYTW), The First Breeze of Summer and Day of Absence (Signature); and Bottom of the World (Atlantic). Regional theater credits include Magnolia (Goodman); Fences (Huntington; South Coast Rep); Topdog/Underdog (PlayMakers Rep); Ceremonies in Dark Old Men (Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre); Othello, Twelfth Night, Metamorphoses, Comedy of Errors, and others (Georgia Shakespeare Festival); Julius Caesar and As You Like It (N.C. Shakespeare Festival). Brandon earned B.A. in mathematics and drama from Morehouse College and an M.F.A. in acting from Univ. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Proud member of Actors’ Equity. www.brandondirden.com
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Gretchen HallGRETCHEN HALL (Judy Sears) was most recently seen at Arena in the Edward Albee Festival. She was also seen last season as Imogen in Shakespeare Theatre’s Cymbeline. She has performed regionally at Westport Country Playhouse (Elizabeth in The Circle), CenterStage (Gwendolyn in The Importance of Being Earnest, dir. Irene Lewis; Maria in the American premiere of Let There Be Love), Hartford Stage (Brand New Festival’s The Sprott Cycle), Shakespeare on the Sound (Helena in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; the Courtesan in Comedy of Errors), and Hangar Theater (Pegeen in Playboy of the Western World). Internationally, she performed in a three-person Pericles with Continuum Company in Florence, Italy. Her TV credits include Louie, Law & Order, Gossip Girl and Lipstick Jungle. She earned her M.F.A. in acting from NYU and her B.A. in acting from Fordham Univ. back

Daren KellyDAREN KELLY (Bill O’Wray). Broadway: South Pacific (NYCO); Woman of the Year; Deathtrap; Crazy for You. Tours: 42nd Street; Ah, Wilderness!; Children; Footloose; Crazy for You (also international). Regional: La Cage aux Folles (Gateway); Ghosts (Arizona Theatre); Long Island Sound (world premiere, TACT); Gypsy (Paper Mill); Radium Girls (Playwrights Theatre of N.J.); Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (Theatre IV); Barrymore in I Hate Hamlet (TheatreVirginia); and the title role in Ivanov (Jewish Rep); Malvolio in Twelfth Night (Porthouse). Film/TV: Love Hurts with Jeff Daniels; Law & Order; M*A*S*H; Kate & Allie; Tales from the Darkside. back

Marty LodgeMARTY LODGE (Al Manners) returns to Arena and his hometown of Washington, where he was last seen in The Heidi Chronicles. Other Arena shows include M. Butterfly, Of Mice and Men, Streetcar, and You Can’t Take It with You, to name a few. He performed extensively in the DC area for 13 years at Shakespeare Theatre, Woolly Mammoth, Studio, and over 30 shows at Round House Theatre, where he was an associate artist. On Broadway he stood by for Bill Pullman in Oleanna. Film and TV credits include Zodiac, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Private Practice, Boston Legal, Numb3rs, and The Gilmore Girls, among many others. back

Garrett NeergaardGARRETT NEERGAARD (Eddie) is pleased to make his Arena Stage debut. He recently understudied on Broadway in the play Good People at Manhattan Theatre Club. Other notable New York credits include The Germ Project (New Georges), Apparition (Connelly Theater), and Spin Moves (SPF ’04). He has also appeared regionally at Baltimore CenterStage (Trouble in Mind, The Matchmaker, and Working It Out), Yale Rep (Trouble in Mind), Geva (House in Hydesville), Two Rivers (Wilbur in Charlotte’s Web), Dorset Theatre Festival (Fallen Angels), and La Jolla Playhouse (Fraulein Else). Mr. Neergaard’s film credits include Goldstar Ohio with Mercedes Ruehl, After You Left (Sundance 2011), and as Russel Henderson in The Laramie Project (HBO, Sundance 2002). Mr. Neergaard has also appeared on TV in NBC’s Law and Order. back

Laurence O'DwyerLAURENCE O'DWYER (Henry) last appeared at Arena in The Fantasticks (Helen Hayes Award). He is an associate artist at CenterStage, where he’s been in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Importance of Being Earnest, ’Tis Pity She’s a Whore, The Matchmaker, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern, Trouble in Mind, and many others. Regional: Cherry Orchard, A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Goodman); Trouble in Mind (Yale); Don Juan (Shakespeare); Don Juan, As You Like It (Old Globe); A Christmas Carol, Temptation (Dallas Theatre Center); Changes of Heart, Mirandolina, The Game of Love and Chance (McCarter); Changes of Heart (Berkeley); Changes of Heart (Taper); A Quarrel of Sparrows (Court, Drama-Logue Award). Former chair of Bennington College’s drama dept. Awards: Baltimore Magazine’s Best Actor in 2009 Best of Baltimore. back

T. Anthony QuinnT. ANTHONY QUINN (Stagehand) is making his Arena Stage debut. Other Washington appearances include Falstaff in Henry V at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Postman/Butler in Out at Sea at Ambassador Theater, Jimmy in Executive Order 10450 and Sir Francis Drake in Ice Holes at the Source Festival. He performed regionally at Weston Playhouse (Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire, Norman in The Star-Spangled Girl) and at Atlanta Shakespeare Company (Verges in Much Ado About Nothing and Snug in A Midsummer Night’s Dream). Mr. Quinn was seen on film in The Six Wives of Henry Lefay with Tim Allen. TV credits include The Boy King, America’s Most Wanted, Monsters and Mysteries of Alaska, and Who the (Bleep) Did I Marry? back

AMBER DICKERSON (Stage Manager), a proud Equity member, recently came off the Dreamgirls national tour and is happy to be stationary for a while. Before that she worked with Rob Ruggiero and Valerie Harper on Looped in Florida and D.C. Ms. Dickerson is delighted to return to Arena, where she spent 10 seasons. Stage manager favorites: The Mystery of Irma Vep (Rebecca Taichman); world premieres of The Women of Brewster Place and Passion Play, a cycle (Molly Smith); The Heidi Chronicles (Tazewell Thompson); Noises Off (Jonathan Munby); Crowns, Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar & Grill and Ain’t Misbehavin’ (Ken Roberson); and The Piano Lesson (Seret Scott). Other credits: Syracuse Stage, Hartford Stage, Ogunquit Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, and Heritage Rep. Thanks to her family for their continuous love and support! back

KURT HALL (Asst. Stage Manager). Favorite Arena credits include Ruined, every tongue confess, Sophisticated Ladies, Looped, Next to Normal, Ella, The Heidi Chronicles, Lady Day …, Awake and Sing!, and The Goat. Other regional favorites: Sunday in the Park with George (Kennedy Center); Julius Caesar and Five by Tenn (Shakespeare Theatre); and My Fair Lady (Signature Theater). Thanks to his family for all their support. back

CREATIVE TEAM

e ChildressALICE CHILDRESS (1916-94) (Playwright) grew up in the Harlem Renaissance and was a founding member of American Negro Theatre. She wrote her first play (Florence) in one night on a dare from Sidney Poitier, and it was produced in 1950. In 1952, she became the first black woman to have a play (Gold Through the Trees) professionally produced in New York. In 1955, Trouble in Mind was an Off-Broadway success and drew interest from Broadway producers, who wanted it made more palatable. She refused, and the play never moved to Broadway. Childress is also known for A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich, her 1973 novel (filmed in 1978) about a 13-year-old heroin addict, and her plays Just a Little Simple (1950), Wedding Band (1966) and Gullah (1984). back

IRENE LEWIS (Director) was artistic director of Baltimore’s CenterStage for 20 seasons where she directed a wide range of material: from Sweeney Todd to H.M.S. Pinafore; Shakespeare to Schiller; The Investigation to Happy End; and premiered, produced or commissioned plays by David Feldshuh, George Walker, Lynn Nottage, Marion McClinton, and Kwame Kwei-Armah, etc. Her proudest achievement at CenterStage was the racial diversification of her board, staff, repertory, and most importantly, the audience. Before coming to CenterStage, she was associate artistic director of Hartford Stage. She’s freelanced at many theaters around the country, including Mark Taper, Berkeley Rep, Williamstown, Seattle Rep, Sundance, Glimmerglass Opera, Yale Rep, N.Y. Shakespeare Festival, as well as the national theater of Yugoslavia in Macedonia. She was awarded an honorary doctorate from McDaniel College in 2011. back

DAVID KORINS (Scenic Designer). Broadway: Annie (upcoming), Godspell, The Pee-wee Herman Show, Lombardi, Passing Strange, Bridge and Tunnel. New York: When the Rain Stops Falling (Lortel Award), Stunning (Lincoln Center); The Marriage of Bette and Boo (Roundabout); The Wiz (City Center); The Receptionist, Pumpgirl (MTC); Hamlet (Delacorte); Why Torture Is Wrong (Drama Desk and Hewes awards), In the Wake, Yellow Face, Passing Strange (Public); Hunting & Gathering (Primary Stages); Jack Goes Boating (LAByrinth); The Drunken City, Miss Witherspoon (Playwrights Horizons); Farragut North (Atlantic); Blackbird (Hewes Award), Orange Flower Water (Edge Theater); Swimming in the Shallows (Second Stage). Regional: Goodman, La Jolla, Alliance, CTG, Old Globe, ACT, Geffen, Santa Fe Opera, and Guthrie. He has designed several concerts for Kanye West. 2009 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence in Design. www.davidkorinsdesign.com
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CATHERINE ZUBER (Costume Designer) is an associate artist at CenterStage, where she designed King Lear, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Sweeney Todd, Mary Stuart, Intimate Apparel, and many others. Broadway: The Coast of Utopia; Awake and Sing! (Tony); Seascape (Tony nom); The Light in the Piazza (Tony); Doubt; Little Women; Dracula; Frozen; Dinner at Eight (Tony nom); Twelfth Night (Tony nom); The Sound of Music; Ivanov; Triumph of Love; The Rose Tattoo; Philadelphia, Here I Come!; The Red Shoes. Off-Broadway: The House in Town; Defiance; The Paris Letter; Doubt; Five by Tenn; Last Easter; Engaged; Intimate Apparel; Frozen; The Regard Evening; The Beard of Avon. Intl.: La Fête des Vignerons (Vevey, Switzerland; 6,000 costumes). Regional: NYSF, MCC, Playwrights Horizons, NYTW, TFANA, Signature. Opera: Metropolitan Opera, Glimmerglass; HGO; Canadian Opera; Los Angeles Opera. Education: Yale School of Drama. Awards: Outer Critics, Obie, Lortel, Ovation, Hewes, Drama Desk (5 noms). back

RUI RITA (Lighting Designer). Broadway: Present Laughter, Dividing the Estate, Old Acquaintance, Enchanted April, The Price, A Thousand Clowns. Off-Broadway: The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Roundabout); The Orphans’ Home Cycle (Hewes Award, Signature); All’s Well That Ends Well (Duke); Moonlight and Magnolias (MTC); The Day Emily Married (Primary Stages); Engaged (TFANA); Big Bill, The Carpetbagger’s Children, Far East, Ancestral Voices (Lincoln Center); Endpapers, Dinner with Friends (Variety Arts); Vita and Virginia (Union Sq.); Antony and Cleopatra (Public); Crimes of the Heart (Second Stage). Regional: Alley, ACT, CenterStage, Ford’s, Goodman, Hartford, Huntington, Kennedy Center, Long Wharf, Mark Taper, Westport, Williamstown. back

CARL FABER (Lighting Designer). Recent: The Tenant (Woodshed Collective), a 52-room installation theater production at the historic West-Park Parish House (NY). Off-Broadway & Regional: Ars Nova (NY), Wadsworth Theater (CA), Williamstown Theatre Festival, Theater Freiburg (Germany), Non-Stop Wroclaw (Poland), Shanghai Center (China). Broadway (Asst. Designer): The Book of Mormon, Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson, August: Osage County. Mr. Faber has collaborated with Mr. Rita on more than two dozen projects over the past seven years. Additional: resident designer for Woodshed Collective, guest lecturer and designer at Crossroads School, lighting supervisor at Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2008 and 2009. B.A. Vassar College. www.carlfaber.com
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DAVID BUDRIES (Sound Designer). Broadway: Souvenir; Our Country’s Good; Long Day’s Journey into Night; Ah, Wilderness! Off-Broadway: Other People’s Money, Playland, Marisol, Search and Destroy, From the Mississippi Delta, Measure for Measure, And a Nightingale Sang. Regional: Hartford Stage; DTC; Yale Rep; South Coast; McCarter; Portland Stage. Chair, sound design program, Yale School of Drama; owner, Sound Situation, a music and radio production company. back

JON CARTER (Hair & Makeup Designer). Broadway: Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (dir. Bartlett Sher), makeup designs for In the Next Room (dir. Les Waters), A Tale of Two Cities (dir. Warren Carlyle) and Xanadu (dir. Christopher Ashley). Off-Broadway: Orange, Hat & Grace (Soho Rep), When The Rain Stops Falling (Lincoln Center), The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (NYTW), So Help Me God (Mint), The Good Negro (Public), Chair (Theater for a New Audience), Endgame (BAM). Regional: Kennedy Center, CenterStage, Dallas Theater Center, Kansas City Rep, Wilma, Philadelphia Theatre Co., Walnut Street Theater, Prince Music Theater, Delaware Theater Co., Arden Theater Co. Opera: Opera Boston, Gotham Chamber Opera, Curtis Institute. back

DANIEL PRUKSARNUKUL (Casting Director) is artistic associate at Arena Stage. He served as casting director for three seasons and is a graduate of the Allen Lee Hughes Fellowship program at Arena, where he was awarded the Thomas C. Fichandler Award for Theater Management Excellence. His work on last season’s productions of every tongue confess and Ruined have been nominated for the Casting Society of America’s 2011 Artios Awards. He has helped launch world premieres by playwrights such as Daniel Beaty, Marcus Gardley, and Karen Zacarías. Other regional casting credits include projects for CenterStage, Seattle Rep, Seattle Children’s Theater, and True Colors Theater Company. back

AMRITA RAMANAN (Dramaturg) is literary manager at Arena Stage. Other dramaturgy credits include Ruined, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies and Crowns (Arena Stage); Skywriter (2009 Cap Fringe Festival); and Cymbeline (Great River Shakespeare Festival). She recently completed a New Play Producing Fellowship through the American Voices New Play Institute at Arena Stage, where she served as line producer for the Defining Diversity convening, Duke Ellington’s Sophisticated Ladies, playwright residencies for Charles Randolph-Wright and Lisa Kron, and co-coordinated the inaugural session of Theater 101 surrounding Arena Stage’s production of every tongue confess. A proud West Coast native, Amrita holds a B.F.A. in dramaturgy and theater history from Univ. of Arizona. She’s a regular contributor to Arena Stage’s blog, Stage Banter, and Sub/Text: Your Virtual Dramaturg. back

American Voices

Irene Lewis

Irene Lewis

For years, the play Trouble in Mind, by African-American playwright Alice Childress, was recommended to me as a show that, as artistic director of CENTERSTAGE, I should produce. I had read the play several times over the years and found it to be “old-fashioned/old hat,” especially concerning the depiction  of the character of the white director. Finally, I decided to ask the opinion of an African-American actress whose judgment I have always valued. She read the play and told me that she liked it. When I asked if she found the role of the white director dated and unbelievable, she said, “No.” So I came around to the opinion that this was another case of – what should I call it – whites (me) being “out of touch” with the experiences of African-Americans. I decided to produce and direct the play at CENTERSTAGE in Baltimore. It subsequently transferred to Yale Repertory Theater. I am delighted that Molly is bringing this groundbreaking piece to Arena Stage.

CAST (in alphabetical order)

STARLA BENFORD
E. FAYE BUTLER
THOMAS JEFFERSON BYRD
BRANDON J. DIRDEN
GRETCHEN HALL
DAREN KELLY
MARTY LODGE
GARRETT NEERGAARD
LAURENCE O'DWYER
T. ANTHONY QUINN
AMBER DICKERSON
KURT HALL

CREATIVE TEAM

ALICE CHILDRESS
IRENE LEWIS
DANIEL PRUKSARNUKUL
AMRITA RAMANAN