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Chaunesti Webb’s “I Love My Hair When It’s Good: & Then Again When It Looks Defiant and Impressive” Has Its World Premiere at Manbites Dog Theater

Chaunesti Webb's "I Love My Hair When It's Good: & Then Again When It Looks Defiant and Impressive" will have its world premiere on March 8-11 and 14-17 at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC

Chaunesti Webb's "I Love My Hair When It's Good: & Then Again When It Looks Defiant and Impressive" will have its world premiere on March 8-11 and 14-17 at Manbites Dog Theater in Durham, NC

Forty/AM will present the world premiere of Durham actress, playwright, director, and teacher Chaunesti Webb’s multimedia play I Love My Hair When It’s Good: & Then Again When It Looks Defiant and Impressive on March 8-11 and 14-17 as part of Manbites Dog Theater’s “Other Voices Series.” There will be a Pay-What-You-Can Preview of the show at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 8th ($5 minimum, door sales only).

Dramatist Chaunesti Webb will direct an all-star cast that includes (in alphabetical order) Aurelia Belfield as Genevieve, Lakeisha Coffey as Moni, Hazel Edmond as Aunt Sandra, Sherida McMullanb as Aunt Evonne, and Yolanda W. Rabun as Grandma and Aunt Brenda.

In addition to playwright and director Chaunesti Webb, the Forty/Am creative team for I Love My Hair When It’s Good, & Then Again When It Looks Defiant and Impressive includes choreographer Aya Shabu; set and graphic designer Jewell Green; lighting designer Andy Parks; assistant lighting designer Hillary Rosen; costume designer and assistant stage manager Barbette Hunter; songwriter and sound designer Shana Tucker; and video designers and editors Michael Devereaux, Jim Havercamp, and Erica Rothman; and photographer Michael McCullough; and stage manager Laurie Wolf.

According to Manbites Dog Theater: “I Love My Hair … is an original play exploring the complex relationship African-American women have with their hair and how that relationship has shaped their identities….”

When the curtain rises, Chaunesti Webb writes on her website:

“Genevieve and Moni have grown up playing double-dutch together, chasing fireflies on grandma’s front porch, and sharing the pain of the hot comb. Worlds collide with age and the search for identity as they attempt to make sense of the world through the complicated relationship they have with their hair. Theirs is a story of love and envy, silence and joy.”

Webb invites Triangle theatergoers to “Follow these two cousins and the family of women who love them, as they come of age together in the South, a South too small to contain their curiosities. Sassy, lyrical, and nostalgic, I Love My Hair … integrates interview text, poetry, original music, movement, and video — to explore family, community, race, class, politics, and identity.”

EXCERPT: "I didn't always Love My Hair. I hated it because of the pain of the straightening comb: the need to have it done while everyone else was playing... the heat of the comb unpleasantly warming my scalp... the sizzling sound of the hair grease... the torchering mistaken taps to the ear... then, for what seemed like forever -- an inability to play or even move for fear that all the hard work would be undone... Oh.... way back then there was no loving of this hair."

EXCERPT: "I didn't always Love My Hair. I hated it because of the pain of the straightening comb: the need to have it done while everyone else was playing... the heat of the comb unpleasantly warming my scalp... the sizzling sound of the hair grease... the torchering mistaken taps to the ear... then, for what seemed like forever -- an inability to play or even move for fear that all the hard work would be undone... Oh.... way back then there was no loving of this hair."

Chaunesti Webb adds:

I Love My Hair … is a National Performance Network Creation Fund Project [http://www.npnweb.org/], co-commissioned by St. Josephs Historic Foundation [of Durham: http://www.hayti.org/], in partnership with Naropa University Contemporary Performance [of Boulder, CO] and NPN.”

On its website, Manbites Dog Theater notes: “This project is also made possible by an Ella Fountain Pratt Emerging Artists Grant from the Durham Arts Council [http://www.durhamarts.org/], with support from the North Carolina Arts Council [http://www.ncarts.org/], a division of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources.”

SECOND OPINION: March 7th Durham, NC Durham News preview by Tracie Fellers: http://www.thedurhamnews.com/2012/03/07/211542/durham-playwright-explores-black.html; March 7th NewsOne for Black America preview by D.L. Chandler: http://newsone.com/nation/dlchandler/chaunesti-webb-i-love-my-hair-when-it’s-good-then-again-when-it-looks-defiant-and-impressive/; March 7th Chapel Hill, NC WUNC 91.5 FM/North Carolina Public Radio interview with Chaunesti Webb, Yolanda Rabun, Hazel Edmond, and Aurelia Belfield, conducted by Frank Stasio for “The State of Things”: http://wunc.org/tsot/archive/I_Love_My_Hair.mp3/view; and March 5th Durham, NC “Left of Black” interview with Chaunesti Webb, conducted by Mark Anthony Neal: http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/20906124.

Forty/AM presents I LOVE MY HAIR WHEN IT’S GOOD: & THEN AGAIN WHEN IT LOOKS DEFIANT AND IMPRESSIVE, a world premiere created and directed by Chaunesti Webb, at 8:15 p.m. March 8 Pay-What-You-Can Preview, 8:15 p.m. March 9 and 10, 3:15 p.m. March 11, and 8:15 p.m. March 14-17 Manbites Dog Theater, 703 Foster St., Durham, North Carolina 27701.

TICKETS: $12 Wednesday and Thursday and $17 Friday-Sunday ($10 Wednesday and Thursday and $15 Friday-Sunday seniors 62+ and active-duty military personnel), except March 8th pay-what-you-can preview: Thursday ($5 minimum, door sales only) and $5 Student Rush Tickets with current ID).

BOX OFFICE: 919-682-3343 or http://manbitesdogtheater.tix.com/Schedule.asp?OrganizationNumber=150. SHOW: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/390/.

VIDEO PREVIEW: http://theupstager.wordpress.com/2012/02/28/i-heart-my-hair/.

PRESENTER: http://fortyam.com/.

VENUE: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/.

MANBITES DOG  BLOG (The Upstager): http://theupstager.wordpress.com/.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://www.manbitesdogtheater.org/find/.

NOTE 1: There will be a Pay-What-You-Can Performance at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday, March 8th.

NOTE 2: There will be a post-show discussion on Sunday, March 11th.

OTHER LINKS:

The Play: http://ilovemyhairtheplay.com/ (official website).

The Playwright: http://chaunestiwebb.com/ (official website).

EDITOR’S NOTE:

Robert W. McDowell is editor and publisher of Triangle Theater Review, a FREE weekly e-mail theatrical newsletter that provides more comprehensive, in-depth coverage of Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill theater than all of the other news media combined. This preview is reprinted with permission from Triangle Theater Review.

To start your FREE subscription to this newsletter, e-mail RobertM748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE TTR in the Subject: line.

To read all of Robert W. McDowell’s Triangle Theater Review previews and reviews online at Triangle Arts & Entertainment, click http://triangleartsandentertainment.org/author/robert-w-mcdowell/.

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