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“Trouble in Mind” Is a Hilarious Drama About Racial Tensions During Rehearsals for a Broadway Play

PlayMakers Rep's "Trouble in Mind" cast includes (from left) Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Wiletta Mayer, Roger Robinson as Sheldon Forrester, Myles Bullock as John Nevins, Carey Cox as Judy Sears, and Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis (photo by Jon Gardiner)

PlayMakers Rep’s “Trouble in Mind” cast includes (from left) Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Wiletta Mayer, Roger Robinson as Sheldon Forrester, Myles Bullock as John Nevins, Carey Cox as Judy Sears, and Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis (photo by Jon Gardiner)

PlayMakers Repertory Company will kick off the 2015 portion of its 2014-15 mainstage season with Trouble in Mind, Charleston, SC-born African-American playwright Alice Childress’ hilarious 1955 backstage drama about racial tensions during rehearsals for a Broadway play, on Jan. 21-25, Jan. 27-Feb. 1, and Feb. 3-8 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Jade King Carroll, who served as associate director under Tony Award®-winning director Emily Mann for the 2012 Broadway Revival of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire, will guest-direct Trouble in Mind for UNC’s professional-theater-in-residence.

According to PlayMakers Rep:

Trouble in Mind is set behind the scenes of a Broadway play during 1957. In rehearsals for a potentially landmark, racially integrated production, the leading actress must wrestle with a choice between the role of a lifetime or compromising her values.

The Washington Post called Trouble in Mind ‘wise and extraordinarily winning’ and ‘one of the best plays about racism ever written.’

“The play is a bitingly satiric modern classic penned by a real-life groundbreaker, playwright/actress Alice Childress, who was the first African-American woman to have her work professionally produced on the New York stage (Gold Through the Trees, 1952).

“In a career spanning more than four decades, Childress was an American theater pioneer. She was a member of Harlem’s American Negro Theater (along with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee, among others), and received a Tony Award® nomination for Best Supporting Actress (Anna Lucasta, 1944). In 1972, she became one of the first African-American women to direct Off-Broadway, co-directing with Joseph Papp for the New York Shakespeare Festival. Her accomplishments opened doors for many African-American artists.

Trouble in Mind was Childress’ breakthrough play, running Off-Broadway in 1955. It was on track to be the first work by an African-American woman to be seen on Broadway, and many believe it is Childress who paved the way for Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun.”

The PlayMakers Rep cast includes (from left)Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis, Jeffrey Blair Cornell as Bill O'Wray and Schuyler Scott Mastain as Al Manners (photo by Jon Gardiner)

The PlayMakers Rep cast includes (from left)Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis, Jeffrey Blair Cornell as Bill O’Wray and Schuyler Scott Mastain as Al Manners (photo by Jon Gardiner)

Also according to PlayMakers Repertory Company:

Kathryn Hunter-Williams will play Wiletta Mayer, the lead actress. Among many roles at PlayMakers, she has appeared as Mama in A Raisin in the Sun and the Angel in Angels in America. She entertained audiences and garnered critical acclaim as Cassandra in this season’s opener Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike.

“Tony Award-winning Broadway actor Roger Robinson appears as Sheldon Forrester. Robinson received the honor as Best Actor in a Featured Role for August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and was Tony-nominated for another Wilson play, Seven Guitars. He has appeared in many film and television parts as well, and was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award for Brother to Brother [2004].”

In addition to Kathryn Hunter-Williams as Wiletta Mayer and Roger Robinson as Sheldon Forrester, the PlayMakers Repertory Company cast for Trouble in Mind includes (in alphabetical order): David Adamson as Henry, Myles Bullock as John Nevins, Jeffrey Blair Cornell as Bill O’Wray, Carey Cox as Judy Sears, Jorge Donoso as Eddie Fenton, Suzette Gunn as Millie Davis, and Schuyler Scott Mastain as Al Manners.

Besides director Jade King Carroll, the show’s creative team includes PlayMakers Rep producing artistic director Joseph Haj, scenic designer Alexis Distler, lighting designer Kathy A. Perkins, costume designer Karen Perry, sound designer Robert Dagit, vocal coach John Patrick, movement coach Craig Turner, dramaturg Mark Perry, and stage managers Charles K. Bayang and Sarah Smiley.

"Trouble in Mind" stars (from left) Myles Bullock as John Nevins, Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis, and Carey Cox as Judy Sears (photo by Jon Gardiner)

“Trouble in Mind” stars (from left) Myles Bullock as John Nevins, Suzette Azariah Gunn as Millie Davis, and Carey Cox as Judy Sears (photo by Jon Gardiner)

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents TROUBLE IN MIND at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 21-23 (Previews), 7:30 p.m. Jan. 24 (Opening Night), 2 p.m. Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m. Jan. 27-30, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Jan. 31, 2 p.m. Feb. 1, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 3-7, and 2 p.m. Feb. 8 in the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art, 120 Country Club Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27514, on the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill campus.

TICKETS: $15 and up. Click here for special ticket prices for UNC students, other college students), UNC faculty and staff, and U.S. military personnel and their immediate families.

BOX OFFICE: 919-962-PLAY (7529), prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/single.

GROUP RATES (15+ tickets): 919-843-2311, prcboxoffice@unc.edu, or http://www.playmakersrep.org/tickets/groupsales.

SHOW: http://www.playmakersrep.org/troubleinmind and https://www.facebook.com/events/636062986505918/.

UNC NEWS SERVICES NEWS RELEASE: http://uncnews.unc.edu/2015/01/06/playmakers-presents-trouble-mind-starting-jan-21/.

PRESENTER: http://www.playmakersrep.org/, https://www.facebook.com/playmakersrep, https://twitter.com/playmakersrep, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PlayMakers_Repertory_Company, and http://www.youtube.com/user/PlayMakersRep.

PRC BLOG (Page to stage): http://playmakersrep.blogspot.com/.

VENUE: http://playmakersrep.org/aboutus/paulgreen.

DIRECTIONS/PARKING: http://playmakersrep.org/visitorinfo.

NOTE 1: All shows are wheelchair accessible, and assistive-listening devices will be available at all performances.

NOTE 2: There will be a gala reception after the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24th, performance.

NOTE 3: There will be an All-Access Performance performance, with sign-language interpretation and audio description by Arts Access, Inc. of Raleigh, at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 27th.

NOTE 4: There will be FREE post-show discussions with members of the creative team following the show’s 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 28th, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 1st, performances.

NOTE 5: There will be a $25-per-person ($15 for graduate students) special program, entitled African Americans in Theater and Popular Culture After 1945, from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31st, presented in partnership with the UNC Program in the Humanities.

NOTE 6: There will be an Open Captioning Performance at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 31st (for more information, click http://playmakersrep.org/outreach/allaccess/opencaption).

NOTE 7: The Lucy Daniels Foundation and the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society will sponsor FREE post-show “Mindplay” discussions after the 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 7th, and 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 8th, performances.

OTHER LINKS:

Study Guide: http://www.milwaukeerep.com/education/documents/troubleinmind.pdf (Milwaukee Repertory Theater).

Alice Childress (Charleston, SC-born playwright, 1916-94): http://archive.csustan.edu/english/reuben/pal/chap8/childress.html (PAL: Perspectives in American Literature: A Research and Reference Guide: “Chapter 8: Alice Childress” by Paul P. Reuben), http://www.lortel.org/ (Internet Off-Broadway Database), and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alice_Childress (Wikipedia).

Jade King Carroll (PlayMakers Rep guest director): http://ibdb.com/person.php?id=492571 (Internet Broadway Database), and http://playmakersrep.org/performances/embed_artist.aspx?id=e673d5bb-0659-4f3f-8123-c392607ffa7c (PlayMakers Rep bio), and https://www.facebook.com/jade.k.carroll (Facebook page).

EDITOR’S NOTE: Robert W. McDowell has written articles for The News & Observer, The Raleigh Times, Spectator Magazine, CVNC, and Triangle Arts and Entertainment, all based in Raleigh. He edits and publishes two FREE weekly e-mail newsletters. Triangle Review provides comprehensive, in-depth coverage of local performing-arts events. (Start your FREE subscription by e-mailing robertm748@aol.com and typing SUBSCRIBE TR in the Subject: line.) McDowell also maintains a FREE list of movie sneak previews. (To subscribe, e-mail robertm748@aol.com and type SUBSCRIBE FFL FREE in the Subject: line.)

 

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