Gurman Agency’s Anne Grossman Interviewed in New York Time’s Return to Broadway Review

A Milestone for Broadway as ‘Pass Over’ Begins Performances

Anne Grossman

Anne Grossman and Jennifer Rockwood hustled into Broadway’s August Wilson Theater shortly before 8 p.m. Wednesday and, beneath their face masks, smiled.

They had shown their proof of vaccination, passed through metal detectors, and, as they stepped down into the lobby, marveled at being back inside a theater. “It’s thrilling” Grossman said, “and a little unsettling.”

The two women, both 58-year-old New Yorkers, were among 1,055 people who braved concerns about the highly contagious Delta variant in order to, once again, see a play on Broadway. It was the first performance of “Pass Over,” by Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, which is the first play staged on Broadway since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered theaters in March of 2020.

“I wanted to be part of the restart of live theater.” Rockwood said.

The play, both comedic and challenging, is about two Black men trapped under a streetlight, afraid that if they dare to leave their corner, they could be killed by a police officer.

The crowd, vaccinated and masked but not socially distanced, was rapturous, greeting Nwandu’s arrival with a standing ovation, and another when she and the play’s director, Danya Taymor, walked onstage after the play to hug the three actors.

Those attending the play were required to show proof of vaccination to enter, and to wear masks while inside the theater.
Those attending the play were required to show proof of vaccination to enter, and to wear masks while inside the theater.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

The night was significant, not only as Broadway seeks to rebound from a shutdown of historic length, but also as it seeks to respond to renewed concerns about racial equity that have been raised over the last year. “Pass Over” is one of seven plays by Black writers slated to be staged on Broadway this season, and, like many of them, it grapples directly with issues of race and racism.

“Thank you for celebrating Black joy!” the playwright, Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, told celebrants at an afterparty on West 52nd Street, outside the theater.
“Thank you for celebrating Black joy!” the playwright, Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu, told celebrants at an afterparty on West 52nd Street, outside the theater.Credit…Jeenah Moon for The New York Times

Read the full article by Michael Paulson for the New York Times here.

Ifa Bayeza’s THE TILL TRILOGY Will Launch Next Season at the MOSAIC THEATER COMPANY OF DC

Ifa Bayeza

Washington, DC, July 28, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Mosaic Theater Company of DC is proud to announce the opening production of the 2022-23 season, Ifa Bayeza’s long-anticipated three-play cycle, THE TILL TRILOGY, exploring the life, death, and legacy of Emmett Till. Simultaneously epic and intimate, the three plays – The Ballad of Emmett Till, on the journey of the boy, Benevolence, on the story of his killers and That Summer in Sumner on the quest for justice – will be presented in rotating repertory, starting in August and running through November 2022. This world premiere staging of the full cycle, the first time all three plays will be presented together, is made possible by a grant from The Roy Cockrum Foundation.

The lynching of Emmett Till in 1955 became a catalyst for the modern Civil Rights movement and remains a flashpoint in the racial reckoning of this country. “I have always seen the story of Emmett Till as a national allegory, a modern myth of our struggle to come to grips with the terrible legacy of enslavement,” Bayeza said. “The killing of black men and boys has become so frequent and ubiquitous that it is hard to fathom. I am humbled that THE TILL TRILOGY is making its debut at Mosaic Theater Company in the nation’s Capital – and hopeful that the inspiration of his extraordinary life will buoy us once again in these difficult times.” 

“As theatres come to life across the country, The Roy Cockrum Foundation is honored to support the full world premiere of THE TILL TRILOGY on Mosaic’s stage,” Cockrum said. “In the months since theaters went dark, this work’s importance has been magnified a thousand-fold. The Foundation wholeheartedly supports this historic project with the fullness that the Emmett Till story demands and deserves. We wish the Mosaic family well as they finally move forward with this important work.”

THE TILL TRILOGY will be directed by Talvin Wilks, who also helmed Penumbra Theatre’s acclaimed productions of The Ballad of Emmett Till and Benevolence. Wilks’ and Bayeza’s collaboration on the third play, That Summer in Sumner, will be a world premiere. “We were all so disappointed when like so many other theatres our production was postponed due to COVID,” said Wilks. “The new date is even more poignant as our premiere coincides with the anniversary of this tragic and epic event – August 28th: the day of Emmett’s death, the March on Washington and Barack Obama’s acceptance of the nomination for President of the United States. In the worst of times, the triumph of faith and hope. Emmett’s arc, like Dr. King’s ‘arc of the moral universe, bends toward justice.’”

A month after his fourteenth birthday, a confident Chicago youth, a boy on the threshold of manhood, embarks on a summer trip to Mississippi. His saga changes the course of a nation . . .  but what of his own journey? The story of a quest … for liberty . . .  and . . .  life! THE TILL TRILOGY, Ifa Bayeza’s acclaimed, award-winning trio of dramas captures the powerful truths at the heart of the story in a soaring work of music, poetry and theatricality.

In preparation for production, Mosaic has presented a series of streamed and recorded public programming events surrounding the political and social impact of the Emmett Till saga. Guests have included Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Secretary of the Smithsonian Lonnie Bunch, preeminent Brandeis University scholar Isaiah Woodard, who is serving as dramaturg on the production, founder of Busboys and Poets Andy Shallal and Mosaic’s Andrew W. Mellon Playwright in Residence Psalmayene 24. All online events can be viewed here.

For more information about THE TILL TRILOGY, its author, director,  and upcoming public programs, visit https://mosaictheater.org/the-till-trilogy

Play                 THE TILL TRILOGY

Dates               August 24, 2022 through November 20, 2022

Box Office      https://sforce.co/3i8IQzK

Theater Alliance Presents THE BLACKEST BATTLE Beginning This Month

The Blackest Battle premieres on July 31, 2021 and will be available for scheduled online streams through the month of August. 

Theater Alliance Presents THE BLACKEST BATTLE Beginning This Month

As the final digital film of the theater season, Theater Alliance presents a world premiere production of acclaimed artist Psalmayene 24‘s The Blackest Battle. A love story that calls attention to Black-on-Black gun violence, the film is set in the future, when reparations have been made and youth get high on a drug called Hope.

With songs composed by Nick tha 1da and visual art from Wesley Clark, Camilla King, Maliah Stokes, and Rodney “Buck” Herring, the film is half music video, half graphic-novel-come-to-life, and utterly unlike any other work of digital theater that has come out of the past year.

“Working with Psalmayene 24 on this commission has been a tremendous gift,” says Raymond O. Caldwell, who directed the film. “Theater Alliance committed to this play four years ago – we knew then that it would be a powerful, dynamic, and significant work of theater, and it has become even stronger with every draft. Theater Alliance is proud to support and produce local playwrights like Psalm.”

The Blackest Battle was commissioned from Psalmayene 24 and Nick tha 1da in 2017. In the years since, it has been written, developed, workshopped, and revised through Theater Alliance’s Hothouse New Play Development program – with performances at the John F. Kennedy Center’s Page to Stage Festival, as well as the Word Becomes Action Festival. Originally slated for live performance in summer of 2020, the production has been reimagined for the screen.

“Our digital production team has grown in leaps and bounds over this season’s work,” says Caldwell. “It is thrilling to bring this film to audiences, knowing we are at the forefront of innovative storytelling – pushing the boundaries of what theater is and can do.”

The Blackest Battle premieres on July 31, 2021 and will be available for scheduled online streams through the month of August.

Under the guidance and expertise of photography director Kelly Colburn, as well as art director Jonathan Dahm Robertson, Theater Alliance has again recreated the intimate theatrical nature of its work for the camera. The production has been pre-recorded, utilizing stringent safety precautions.

This production is made possible through the support of the National Foundation for the Arts, the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities, the Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation, the Revada Foundation, and the Arts Forward Fund. Season 18 at Theater Alliance is generously sponsored by David and Jean Heilman Grier.

Purchase tickets at www.theateralliance.com or call 202-241-2539.

Full article by Stephi Wild for BroadwayWorld D.C. available here.

‘Age of Bees’ written by Tira Palmquist, Directed by Eddie DeHais, to be staged in Monmouth

Theater at Monmouth plans to presents the Maine Premiere of Tira Palmquist’s “Age of Bees,” an eerily prescient drama written in 2008 about a world-wide pandemic and its aftermath on people, the planet, and, most importantly, the bees.

The play opens at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 22, other performances are set for 7:30 p.m. July 23, 31, Aug. 4, 10, 14, 15 and 19; and at 1 p.m. Aug. 18.

Mel finds safe haven on an isolated farm, tending to the last blooming apple orchards as primary pollinator. Enter Jonathan, an independent field researcher collecting samples of plants to start anew. Mel sees possibility and purpose in Jonathan, and in Mel, Jonathan discovers a secret that could save the world.

Palmquist’s coming-of-age drama, imagines a world where environmental disaster, and a rapidly spreading plague, has reduced civilization and decimated hope. Still a group of orphaned and abandoned girls find shelter and possibility in the rebirth of an apple orchard. The key to saving humanity is just a drop of blood away.

Director Eddie DeHais asks, “What do we do in the wake of a global pandemic? This is not just a question we are all wrestling with in this moment, but one that is alive in Age of Bees by Tira Palmquist. A global pandemic has devastated the human race and ten years later there are only small pockets of survivors barely scraping by. On an apple orchard in Ohio, we meet two young women, Mel and Deborah, struggling with the painful transition from childhood to adulthood when all the rules have changed. Age of Bees shows us a world that has spiraled much further down the well than our own, and provides a blueprint of how to not just survive but a way to find hope in building anew.

Playwright, Tira Palmquist, is known for plays that merge the personal, the political, and the poetic. Her most produced play, Two Degrees, premiered at the Denver Center, and was subsequently produced by Tesseract Theater in St. Louis and Prime Productions at the Guthrie (among others). Her play The Way North was a Finalist for the O’Neill, an Honorable Mention for the 2019 Kilroy’s List, and was featured in the 2019 Ashland New Plays Festival.

Age of Bees features Charence Higgins as Sarah, Amber McNew as Mel, Michael Rosas as Jonathan, and Tori Thompson as Deborah. Directed by Eddie DeHais; Set design by German Cardenas-Alaminos, Costume Design by Elizabeth Rocha, Lighting Design by SeifAllah Salotto-Cristobal, Properties and Scenic Art by Emma Kielty, Stage Management by Kailey Pelletier, and Sound Design by Rew Tippin.

Post-performance discussions will be pre-recorded and audiences can stream the content before or after their selected dates. Discussions with the cast and creative team will cover the critical historical, artistic, and cultural perspectives of the worlds of each individual play.

Tickets cost $36 for adults, $31 for senior citizens, and $22 for students (18 and younger). Family Show tickets cost $17 for adults, $12 for children.

For reservations or more information, call the TAM Box Office at 207-933-9999 or visit theateratmonmouth.org.

Article from CentralMaine.com

‘The Office’ Reunion: Kate Flannery Reunites With Warehouse Star Ameenah Kaplan

Kate Flannery and Ammenah Kaplan had an impromptu Office reunion this week, and fans are losing it. Flannery posted photos of herself with Kaplan on Instagram and Twitter, noting that they haven’t seen each other since the show wrapped. The reunion had fans feeling nostalgic.

Office reunion!” Flannery wrote. “Hey to the warehouse superstar, Val! [Ameenah Kaplan] directing the tour of [Disney’s Lion King] WOAH! Last time I saw her was Dwight and Angela’s wedding.”…

“This is awesome!!” commented Fischer on Instagram, while Kinsey added: “Love it!!” Some fans tagged Kaplan in the post, as well, and sang her praises beyond The Office itself. One wrote: “Literally everyone should go learn about how bad ass Ameenah Kaplan (Val) is!! Drummer, choreographer, director, producer, actress and more. Hers should be a household name!”

Kaplan has a prolific theater and performance background, with a strong emphasis on drumming. She was in the original cast of the American STOMP, and was a drum coach for the Blue Man Group. She went on to play percussion for acts like Ty Taylor of Vintage Trouble, Adam Lambert, Alisan Porter, Macy Gray, Rihanna, Taylor Hicks, Lisa Haley and the Zydecats, Drake, Leslie Odom Jr., Scarlett Cherry and the Twinz.

On The Office, Kaplan played a warehouse worker named Val whom Darryl (Craig Robinson) developed a crush on. Her other TV credits include Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars, Heroes and Cold Case, among others. In movies, she is most recognizable for playing Gamora’s mom in flashback sequences in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.

Read the full article by Micael Hein for popculture.com HERE.