Meet the Cast of New Federal Theater’s IN THE WINE TIME
Woodie King Jr’s New Federal Theatre kicks off its 44th season with the first play of “The Ed Bullins Project” – two revivals from his “Twentieth Century Cycle of Plays” – IN THE WINE TIME, to be followed by The Fabulous Miss Marie this spring. In The Wine Time, directed by Mansoor Najee-Ullah, will begin performances October 25th at Castillo Theater (543 West 42nd Street), continuing through November 24th. Opening Night is set for Thursday November 7th.
IN THE WINE TIME will feature Richard Brundage, Angelique Chapman, Khadim Diop, Matthew Faroul, Lindsay Finnie, Harrison Lee, Catherine Peoples, Shirlene Victoria Quigley, Sandra Reaves-Phillips (Rollin’ On The T.O.B.A, Lean on Me, ‘Round Midnight), Kim Sullivan, Eddie Wardel, and Eboni Witcher. In The Wine Time will have scenic design by Tony Davidson, lighting design by Shirley Prendergast, costume design by Ali Turns, and sound design by Sean O’Halloran.
Ed Bullins is considered one of the most prolific and influential playwrights of the Black Arts Movement. Winner of the prestigious NY Drama Critics’ Circle Award and OBIE Award for The Taking of Miss Janie, he has greatly influenced American theatre, especially Black theatre. He is the author of more than 100 plays that have been produced throughout the United States and Europe. His acclaimed canon of plays include Clara’s Ole Man, Dialect Determinism (or The Rally), How Do You Do (1965), A Minor Scene, It Has No Choice, The Theme Is Blackness (1966); In New England Winter, Black Commercial #2 (1967); Goin’ a Buffalo, A Son Come Home, The Electronic Nigger, The Corner, In The Wine Time, The Gentleman Caller (1968); The Box Office, One-Minute Commercial, State Office Bldg. Cruse, The American Flag Ritual, We Righteous Bombers (1969); The Helper, Death List, A Short Play for A Small Theater, Street Sounds, The Man Who Dug Fish, The Duplex, It Bess Dat Way, A Street Play, A Black Time for Black Folk (1970); The Fabulous Miss Marie, Night of the Beast (1971); The Play of the Play (1973); Malcolm: 71 or Publishing Blackness (1975); The Taking of Miss Janie, The Mystery of Phyllis Wheatley: An Historical Play for Young Americans, I Am Lucy Terry: An Historical Fantasy for Young Americans (1976); City Preacher (1984); High John Da Conqueror: the Musical (1985); and Salaam, Huey Newton, Salaam (1990), among othersHe received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, the Drama Desk Vernon Rice Award, the Drama Prize at the Venice Biennale Arts Festival, an Honorary Doctor of Letters from Columbia College, three OBIE Awards, two Guggenheim fellowships, three Rockefeller Foundation Playwriting grants and three NEA playwriting grants. A Professor of Theatre at Northeastern University, Mr. Bullins has also won AUDELCO Awards and The Black Theatre Festival Living Legend Award. Bullins has published four collections of plays: Five Plays by Ed Bullins (1968), The Fabulous Miss Marie (1970), The Duplex: A Black Love Fable in Four Movements (1971), Four Dynamite Plays (1972) and The Theme is Blackness (1972), as well as short prose The Hungered One: Early Writings (1971) and a novel The Reluctant Rapist (1973). Bullins was recently represented Off-Broadway by the York Theater’s revival of Storyville. His work, characterized by disdain for ineffective political rhetoric as a substitute for action, most often examines the lives of Black people in the inner city. In 1968, Clive Barnes, writing in the New York Times callEd Bullins “a welcome addition to the ranks of New York playwrights.” Four years later, Barnes added “Bullins writes the way Charlie Parkerplayed: It is all so easy and effortless. It sounds improvised, and yet it doesn’t sound improvised, simply because it is the improvisation of formality.” Today, Bullins is regarded as a seminal force in the American theater.
IN THE WINE TIME is the story of Ray, Lou and Cliff – people so linked by blood, law, or friendship that they simply cannot walk away from their relationships, regardless of how unpleasant or destructive they might be. Bullins addresses these issues. It is Ray’s rite of passage. Dramatized are the many levels of denial but nothing more overwhelming than the sheer weariness, that is the numbness of poverty as expressed in cheap wine. Though incomplete, the Twentieth Century Cycle stands as one of the monuments of African-American drama, Its sweep and scope influencing, among others, August Wilson. Originally planned as a series of twenty plays, it traces the lives of an extended family of African Americans through the Cold War era. Like Wilson, Bullins intended these plays to engage broad historical questions facing African Americans. In the Wine Time marks Bullins’ first successful use of music as a truly dramatic element. The competing radios of the Dawson’s (which Plays rhythm ‘n’ blues) and Miss Minny Garrison ( playing gospel) provide a sense of historical situated ness, clarify the deep moral and metaphysical issues at stake, and underscore the very different attitudes and expressive styles in conflict on this small side street of a large northern industrial city in the early 1950s. Black theater has its strongest traditions in the realistic genre and as such has projected middle class hopes of the aspiring Africa-American Bullins pulls his images and words from the deepest layers of the dispossessed: the highest aspirations here are just to exist. Bullins writes a sharp, hard-hitting dialogue and is acidly humorous, with an occasional hint of thwarted lyricism breaking through…[His] work show coherence and power. Opening in April: Ed Bullins‘ 1971 play, The Fabulous Miss Marie, is set in Los Angeles during the Civil Rights’ student sit-ins. This is arguably Bullins’ greatest work, one that bears comparison to Anton Chekhov‘s The Cherry Orchard. Like Chekhov, Bullins is interested in how love can be expressed in a “cemetery of human failure and class arrogance.” With this play, part of his Twentieth Century Cycle, Bullins perfected a dramatic structure also found in In the Wine Time.
Mansoor Najee-Ullah had the privilege to direct Ed Bullins Salaam Huey Newton Salaam produced by the New Federal Theatre in October 2008. He has also directed Shango De Ima at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Walking On Waterston at Rites & Reasons Theatre Brown University, Plumes at New York University, For Colored Girls… by Ntozake Shange at Long Street Theatre (University of South Carolina), MoJo by Alice Childress at Ethnical Cultural Society New York, Partake of the Goatmeat at Theatre for the Open Eye and many other Off-Off Broadway theaters in New York City.
Woodie King Jr. is the Founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre. Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre has presented over 250 productions in its 44-year history. Mr. King has produced and directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway, in regional theatres, and in universities across the United States. He is the original producer of the ground breaking “choreopoem” For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, (The play was then co-produced by NFT with Joseph Papp‘s Public Theatre). He also produced What the Wine Sellers Buy, Reggae and The Taking of Miss Janie (Drama Critics Circle Award). His directional credits are extensive and include work in film as well as theater. Mr. King was recently inducted into The Theater Hall of Fame for outstanding contribution to the American Theater.
Performances will be Thursday and Friday evenings at 7:30 PM, Saturday at 2 PM and 7:30 PM, and Sunday at 2 PM. Tickets will be $25 and can be ordered through www.castillo.org or by phone at 212/941-5800. For more information, visit www.newfederaltheatre.com or call NFT at 212-353-1176.
Photo Credit: Gerry Goodstein
Khadim Diop, Shirleen Quigley
Kim Sullivan, Shirleen Quigley
Shirleen Quigley, Sandra Reaves-Phillips
Khadim Diop, Kim Sullivan, Shirley Quigley