FOR THE NEW CITY'S DREAM UP FESTIVAL PRESENTS
NEW YORK, July 16 -- "SHOUT! The Drama of an Invisible Black Man of a Certain Age in the Last Days of Political Correctness" is a play for one man written by noted African-American playwright Henry Miller and performed by noted opera singer Arthur Woodley. The title character, anonymous in name and age, engages in a one-way conversation with the audience, revisiting crucial events of his life to avoid having to confront the impending funeral of his true love. He uses the audience as his sounding board, rereading love letters as well as ruminating on political correctness, race, personal identity and mortality. His experience encourages us to think about what is it we remember when looking back on a life. His memories sustain him and provide an escape from the realities of old age and loneliness. His disjointed and somewhat frantic dialogue parallels his racing thoughts; this unique access into his mind illustrates the way people need to tell their stories as a way of making peace with them. Its world premiere will be presented September 12 to 20 by Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival.
"SHOUT!" is extremely self-aware. The performer is aware of his joint identity as actor and character and struggles to reconcile the two. He is aware of the audience and in direct conversation with it. He also addresses the play's author, calling the work a piece of fiction. He thus subverts our expectations by unveiling the very process of creating a play. What he fears most is time and as the play progresses it becomes clear that our very presence as the audience is what sustains him. The longer he can talk to us, the longer he can put off the funeral. By reading letters to us or dancing to old music, he can in essence freeze time and at least briefly gain some solace. Thus, the audience becomes just as much a part of the story as he is, no longer passively watching but actually welcoming this responsibility, conscious of the way that viewing theater provides us a similar escape from time and reality.
"SHOUT!" is written and directed by Mr. Miller. His collection of one-act plays, "Songs of the One-Act Muse," and his full-length play, "My Brother's Keeper," have been published by the Alexander Street Press and made available on CD Rom as part of the Black Drama Anthology acquired by major universities. His compilation of one-act plays, "The Christmas Eve Companion Plays: A Winter Reunion and Gifts of Parting," was awarded First Prize and Honorable Mention in Samuel French's Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival. Miller has also written for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, The Afro-American Historical and Cultural Museum in Philadelphia, Columbia Pictures, the New York Village Voice, Theatre Survey and the African American Review. Miller is also a theater scholar and his book, "Theorizing Black Theatre," was published (McFarland & Co.) in March 2011. Miller has also staged more than 35 Off-Off Broadway and regional theatre productions, including his own plays, much of the African American canon of drama and his recent staging (October, 2012) of Jeff Stetson's award-winning play "Fraternity" for the Ebony Repertory Theatre of Los Angeles. His directing ventures in musical theatre include "Porgy and Bess" for the Indianapolis Opera and the Opera Company of Philadelphia and "Lost in the Stars" for the Opera Ebony Company. Miller also holds a B.A. degree in Film and Video production. His half hour film, "Death of a Dunbar Girl" has been exhibited in Black American Film Festivals at the Vatican in Rome, the Forum Des Halles in Paris, the National Theatre in London and the Public Theatre and Whitney Museum in New York. He held the 2009 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of Theatre Chair at the University of Kansas and has done other Visiting Professorships at the Arts and Theology Institute of the Memphis Seminary (2007) and at North Carolina A&T State University (2005-06). The Henry Miller Theatre Collection, identifying his work as well as the work of other African American theatre artists, has been archived at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture (NYPL). As Co-Director of Harlem's Uptown Playwrights' Workshop (2007-12), Miller was cited by the New York City Council for his contributions to that inner-city Arts institution.
The play is performed by American bass Arthur Woodley, who has been acclaimed for his performances in both opera and concerts. This season he sang the role of Don Alfonso in "Cosi Fan Tutte" with Florida Grand Opera and returned to Portland Opera for the role of Joe in "Showboat" and Father Truelove in Stravinsky's "Rakes's Progress." Next season he returns to Seattle Opera for Dottor Bartolo in "Le Nozze di Figaro," then to Opera Parallele in San Francisco for a return to the role of Emile Griffith, for which he recently won critical acclaim in the world premiere of Terence Blanchard's "Champion" at the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. He will also debut the role of Richard Hallorann in the world premiere of composer Paul Moravec's opera "The Shining" with Minnesota Opera. Mr. Woodley has appeared with prestigious opera companies all over the U.S., including San Francisco Opera, Chicago Lyric, Seattle Opera, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Dallas Opera, Cincinnati Opera, Pittsburgh Opera and the Opera Theatre of St. Louis. His many roles have included Varlaam in "Boris Gudonov," Bartolo in "Le Nozze di Figaro," the Four Villains in "Les Contes d'Hoffmann," Kuno in "Die Freischutz," Banquo in "Macbeth," Nick Shadow in "The Rake's Progress," Sulpice in "La Fille du Regiment," Leporello in "Don Giovanni," Rocco in "Fidelio," Publio in "La Clemenza di Tito," Angelotti in "Tosca," Achillas in "Giulio Cesare" and Dansker in "Billy Budd." Mr. Woodley has a distinguished history with the role of Porgy in "Porgy and Bess." He sang the role in concert with the San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony and on tour in Italy, including the Santa Cecilia Orchestra and Chorus in Rome with Yuri Temirkanov. In staged performances, he has appeared with the Opera Company of Philadelphia, the Indianapolis Opera, Opera Colorado, the Bregenz Festival in Austria, the Savonlinna International Festival in Finland and the Catfish Row Opera Company of Charleston, South Carolina, in a gala celebration of the 50th anniversary of the opera's debut. In concert, he has appeared with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra, the Houston Symphony, the Modesto Symphony, the American Composers Orchestra in Carnegie Hall, the Collegiate Chorale at Lincoln Center and at the Bard Music Festival. He also sang the world premiere of "God, Mississippi and Medgar Evers" with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and was the bass soloist in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 in Mexico City with Sir Neville Marriner and The Academy of St. Martin in the Fields. Mr. Woodley was born in New York City and spent his early childhood on the island of Saint Croix. He currently resides in Montclair, NJ.
The sixth Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) will be presented by Theater for the New City (TNC) from August 30 to September 20, 2015, offering a lineup of wide-ranging and original theatrical visions embracing drama, musicals, improv, aerial and more. This year, owing to growing popularity, the festival has expanded beyond its primary venue. Previously, all productions were presented at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. This year, 19 productions will be presented at TNC and seven will be presented at an outside venue, The Producers Club Theaters at 358 West 44th Street.
The festival is
dedicated to new works. TNC feels this festival is especially needed
now in a time of declining donations to the arts, when grants are not
being awarded due to market conditions and arts funding is being cut
across the country and abroad. The festival aims to push ideas to the
forefront through imaginative presentations so as to challenge audience
expectations and make us question our understanding of the way art illuminates
the world around us.
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