Falcon Theatre’s third production of its 30th anniversary season is Pearl Cleage’s BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY. The play is a brutally honest and candid examination of an array of issues–including race, gender, sexuality, and cultural intolerance–in the historical context of the Harlem Renaissance and the early years of the Great Depression. The production, directed by Torie Wiggins, opens January 24, 2020.
The story is set in Harlem, New York in 1930. The euphoria and nonstop party of the Roaring Twenties have given way to the harsh realities of rampant joblessness and Jim Crow laws. The tale takes on the theme of hopeful dreams in hopeless times; it chronicles the aspirations and adversity of five characters whose lives tragically converge during an eight-week period. The names and spirit of Harlem Renaissance artists such as Langston Hughes and Josephine Baker hover throughout the play, but the story focuses on struggling artists whose dreams must be put on hold to face economic survival.
Director Wiggins says Blues has been on her bucket list of plays to direct ever since she played the lead role of Angel in a production at the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music in the 1990s. “This is a story that needs to be told,” says Ms. Wiggins. “It’s a story that resonates with themes that are as relevant as they have ever been. Culture. Relationships. Sexism. Racism. And features some of the most memorable characters that audiences will ever encounter.”
Ms. Wiggins also says that she is excited about working in Falcon’s intimate space for the first time. The stage and its proximity to the audience will be a real challenge for her actors. “This is a theater that was made for actors and for this play,” she says. “When I first walked into the theater, I thought, ‘Wow. The actors will really need to be camera-ready from the opening curtain.”
The Chicago Tribune calls Blues for an Alabama Sky “ebullient, musical, (and) highly enjoyable.” The Guardian says the play “…offers a riveting picture of Harlem at a moment of historic transition.” The Washington Post calls it “…lively and heartfelt.”
Falcon’s production features Bryana Bentley as Angel, Keith Holland as Sam, R. DeAndre Smith as Guy, Elizabeth Taylor as Delia, and Elliot Young as Leland. Performances are at 8 PM on January 24, 25, 30, and 31 and on February 1, 6, 7 and 8. Tickets prices are $25 for adults and $15 for students with ID. Patrons enjoy a $5 discount for Thursday performances. Visit falcontheater.net for tickets.