Mainstage Past Seasons

Mainstage Season (2019-2020)

A Season of Black Plays

Poster for Production of King Hedley II

King Hedley II

By: August Wilson

A quest for redemption for one man and a whole community 1980s Pittsburg, a city in decay. Against the backdrop of Regan's America, King, an ex-con, is trying to rebuild his life and start a family. He's got hopes and dreams of opening up a video store and building a new life. If only he can get ten thousand dollars together if only he can catch a break. In his dusty backyard, he plots and plans with his friend Mister, but is this all a pipe dream?

Poster for Rep Company's Production of Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip Hop Creation Myth

Zomo The Rabbit

By: Psalmayene 24

Once he gets dissed by school friends for being weak and ineffectual, Zomo the Rabbit vows to prove them all wrong by becoming powerful and never having to take no mess from anybody ever again. His quest leads him to the Ultimate power master, Sky God, who promises to grant his request, but he has to do something in return by securing and bringing her three special things: 1) get the dance shoes of Big Fish; 2) get the spray paint can from Wild Cow; 3) get the turntable from DJ the Leopard. The first act sets up the story and Zomo starts securing the items in trickster fashion, complete with split second lighting and sound cues, and of course, enough toe-tapping rap for a full scale slam. Along the way, though, Zomo learns the consequence of taking precious items that mean something to others and discovers another purpose for his life than trying to be all powerful. Citation here.

Fires in the Mirror

By: Anna Deavere Smith

“In 1991, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, an Hasidic man’s car jumped a curb, killing Gavin Cato, a seven-year-old black child. Later, in what appeared to have been an act of retaliation on the part of a faction of the black community, Yankel Rosenbaum, an Hasidic rabbinical student was stabbed and killed. The ensuing riots that wracked Crown Heights’ previous atmosphere of tolerance for its divergent cultures made national headlines and pointed to the growing friction in racial and cultural relations across America.” Although it’s been nearly twenty years since the incident in Crown Heights, Brooklyn that sparked Anna Deavere Smith to create Fires in the Mirror, the climate of misunderstanding and mistrust amongst different groups has continued throughout the country. UofL’s actors will be asked to relate to the experiences of others (as actors often do) and inhabit the identity of another group without erasing differences between identities. In so doing, the production will challenge the audience to vicariously open up to this process and try to shift their perspective, their experience, and their identity to that of another, rather than passively sitting in judgment from the perspective of the voyeur.

Detroit '67

By: Dominique Morisseau

In 1967 Detroit, Motown music is getting the party started, and Chelle and her brother Lank are making ends meet by turning their basement into an after-hours joint. But when a mysterious woman finds her way into their lives, the siblings clash over much more than the family business. As their pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and they find themselves caught in the middle of the '67 riots.

Six Degrees of Separation

By: John Guare

Inspired by a true story, the play follows the trail of a young black con man, Paul, who insinuates himself into the lives of a wealthy New York couple, Ouisa and Flan Kittredge, claiming he knows their son at college. Paul tells them he is the son of actor Sidney Poitier, and that he has just been mugged and all his money is gone. Captivated by Paul's intelligence and his fascinating conversation (and the possibility of appearing in a new Sidney Poitier movie), the Kittredges invite him to stay overnight. But in the morning they discover him in bed with a young male hustler from the streets, and the picture begins to change. After kicking him out, Ouisa and Flan discover that friends of theirs have had a similar run-in with the brash con artist. Intrigued, they turn detective and piece together the connections that gave Paul access to their lives. Meanwhile, Paul's cons unexpectedly lead him into darker territory and his lies begin to catch up with him. As the final events of the play unfold Ouisa suddenly finds herself caring for Paul, feeling that he gave them far more than he took and that her once idyllic life was not what it seemed to be.

Milk Like Sugar

By: Kirsten Greenidge

It is Annie Desmond’s sixteenth birthday and her friends have decided to help her celebrate in style, complete with a brand new tattoo. Before her special night is over, however, Annie and her friends enter into a life altering pact. When Annie tries to make good on her promise to her friends, she is forced to take a good look at the world that surrounds her. She befriends Malik, who promises a bright future, and Keera, whose evangelical leanings inspire Annie in a way her young parents have not been able to do. In the end Annie’s choices propel her onto an irreversible path in this story that combines wit, poetry, and hope. Citation: Samuel French

Mainstage Season (2018-2019)

Stories of the Past: Lessons for the Future

Poster for The Mountaintop, directed by Johnny Jones

 

The Mountaintop

By Katori Hall
Directed by Johnny Jones

The Mountaintop is a fictional retelling of how Martin Luther King Jr. spent his last night on earth, before his tragic assassination. After delivering his famous “I’ve been to the mountaintop speech” on behalf of the sanitation workers in Memphis, Martin goes to the Lorraine Motel to rest before another long day of campaigning. His world is spun on his axis when he meets Camae, a beautiful maid, who delivers his room service. At first, they only exchange flirtatious remarks, but soon they start a deep dialogue about Martin’s hopes and fears, and the two develop a true understanding. When Camae reveals that she is an angel that has come to prepare him for the soon-to-be-coming afterlife, Martin must confront his fears and face his own mortality. The Mountaintop shows the audience a different side of Martin Luther King: a man who is tired, flawed, yet -- despite everything -- is an inspiration.

 

UofL's Flickr Album 

Taming of the Shrew poster

 

The Taming of the Shrew

By William Shakespeare
Directed by J.Ariadne Calvano

Considered Shakespeare’s first comedy, The Taming of the Shrew revolves around two sisters - one avoiding marriage (Katherine), and one longing for it (Bianca) - and the lengths to which suitors will go to win their “prize.”   

Our production is set in 1963, the year in which Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique was published. Friedan’s landmark critique of gender roles in American culture sparked what became known as second-wave feminism. When encountering Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew today, Katherine seems less “shrewish” than feminist.  When she utters her first line about not wanting to be “sold” to a man, one of her sister’s suitors, Hortensio, retorts that “unless [Kate] were of gentler, milder mold,” she will not gain a husband.  Setting the Elizabethan play in 1963 America allows us to question how the gendered behavior celebrated in mainstream American culture and society that was critiqued by Friedan 55 years ago relates to gender roles in 2018.

UofL's Flickr Album 

 

Almost, Maine

By John Cariani
Directed by Geoffrey Nelson

Welcome to Almost, Maine, a place that’s so far north, it’s almost not in the United States. It’s almost in Canada. And it’s not quite a town, because its residents never got around to getting organized. So it almost doesn’t exist. One cold, clear, winter night, as the northern lights hover in the star-filled sky above, the residents of Almost, Maine, find themselves falling in and out of love in unexpected and hilarious ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. But the bruises heal, and the hearts mend—almost—in this delightful midwinter night’s dream.

 

“ALMOST, MAINE is a series of nine amiably absurdist vignettes about love, with a touch of good-natured magic realism…witty, romantic, unsentimental. A beautifully structured play, with nifty surprise endings (most but not all of them happy).” —NY Times. “Sweet, poignant, and witty. Nearly perfect. ALMOST, MAINE’s charm is real. [It] packs wit, earns its laughs and, like love, surprises you.” —NY Daily News. “Mega-hit ALMOST, MAINE lands somewhere between Norman Rockwell and Our Town. Unabashedly unhip. There is no pretense of an edge here—the show offers a sweetness and decency that’s become rare at the theater. At this point, it’s a welcome breath of fresh air.” —New York Post.

UofL's Flickr Album 

 

A Piece of My Heart

By Shirley Lauro
Directed by Sidney Monroe

This is a powerful, true drama of six women who went to Viet Nam five nurses and a country western singer booked by an unscrupulous agent to entertain the troops. The play portrays each young woman before, during, and after her tour in the war torn jungle and ends as each leaves a personal token at The Wall in Washington.

The two-act play follows six women (four nurses, a Red Cross volunteer, and an intelligence officer) before, during, and after the war. Said jumble of characters includes Sissy, a rather naive but sweet girl from Pennsylvania; Whitney, a seemingly prim and proper Vassar graduate with a secret; Martha, an army brat who discovers Vietnam might be more than she bargained for; Steele, an African-American woman who despite being the most capable of the lot seems to always get treated as the Cassandra; Maryjo, a country-rock singer and professional ditz who goes over to entertain the troops; and Leeann, the half-[[Chinese]], half-Italian who just wanted to go to Hawaii, but instead gets routinely mistaken for Vietnamese.

UofL's Flickr Album 


Poster image for A Raisin in the Sun

A Raisin in the Sun

By Lorraine Hansberry
Directed by Baron Kelly

A Raisin in the Sun is a play about dreams; what it means to dream big, to lose faith in your dreams, and to discover new dreams. It is also a story about family. We meet the Younger family the day before they are getting a $10,000 insurance check from the death of the father, Walter Younger. We watch as different members of the family have different ideas of how to use the money: Mama wants to buy a house with a little garden in the back, Walter Lee Younger (their son) wants to invest in a liquor store, Ruth (Walter Lee’s wife) wants a house with some space and a nice kitchen, and Beneatha (Walter Lee’s sister) wants to go to medical school. Tensions increase as each member of the family tries to get their own way, eventually threatening to break apart their foundation completely. The stakes continue to climb as questions about identity, class, value, race and love become forefront issues, and outsiders to the family make it impossible to forget the world that the Younger family cannot seem to escape.

UofL's Flickr Album 

Mainstage Season (2017-2018)

Miss Ida B. Wells poster past production

Miss Ida B. Wells

September 22, 2017 thru October, 1, 2017
Thrust Theatre

By: Endesha Ida Mae Holland

Through a combination of historical fact and creative imagination Miss Ida B Wells powerfully depicts the life and times of a civil rights activist and journalist who fought against the lynching of Black men at the turn of the 20th century.

Find out more about Miss Ida B. Wells' history

View images of the production on UofL's Flickr album.

Our Country's Good poster November 10 to 19, 2017

Our Country's Good

November 10, 2017 thru November 19, 2017
The Playhouse

By: Timberlake Wertenbaker

The play follows the true life story of a group of convicts who having been deported to the colony of Australia, found themselves required to act in a production of George Farquhar's comedy 'The Recruiting Officer' which was staged in the penal colony of New South Wales in 1789. The actual production was the responsibility of Ralph Clark, an idealistic young lieutenant, who believed the drama would be a more salutary lesson than public hanging. How ironic then, that the choice of Farquhar's play should show British officers in such an unflattering light.

View images of the production on UofL's Flickr album.

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Eurydice

January 26, 2018 thru February 4, 2018
Thrust Theatre

** With a Talk-back after the show Feb 2nd**

By: Sarah Ruhl

On the day of her wedding, Eurydice falls victim to a tragic accident that sends her hurtling into a wonderland of an Underworld: ripped from her beloved Orpheus, the greatest musician in the world, Eurydice is reunited with her dead father in the Land of the Dead. Orpheus journeys to retrieve his bride, but Eurydice has begun to discover that the cost of living again can sometimes exceed the cost of staying dead. Full of dark humor, lyrical beauty, and wit, Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice transforms a traditional myth into a visceral, contemporary meditation on love worth grieving for.

View images of the production on UofL's Flickr album.

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Fabulation or the Re-Education of Undine

February 23, 2018 thru March 4, 2018
The Playhouse

By: Lynn Nottage

Undine, a businesswoman who is skilled at social-climbing, is informed by her accountant that her husband has left her and taken all her money. With her life totally wrecked, Undine returns to Brooklyn and the life she left behind from her childhood. She meets up with her family, all of whom, except for her grandmother, work as security guards. Her grandmother is a heroin addict, and Undine is coerced into going to buy some for her. She is then arrested as her life spirals further out of her control.

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The Long Christmas Ride Home

April 13, 2018 thru April 22, 2018
Thrust Theatre

By: Paula Vogel

Past, present and future collide on a snowy Christmas Eve for a troubled family of five. Humorous and heart-wrenching, this beautifully written play by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of How I Learned to Drive proves that magic can be found in the simplest breaths of life.