African American Repertory Theatre Begins Season
by LaTika Lee
The African American Repertory Theatre of Virginia (AART) is gearing up for its first production of the 2010-2011 season. They will present the Tony Award-nominated play “Home” by Samm-Art Williams on Nov. 11 through 14 in the Gottwald Playhouse at CenterStage, located in downtown Richmond.
“We’re thrilled to be producing our newest work at Richmond Centerstage,” says AART Artistic Director, Derome Scott Smith, a 2010 winner of Richmond Magazine’s prestigious Theresa Pollak Prize for Excellence in Arts. “This show is a staple of the black theatre cannon, first produced by the legendary Negro Ensemble, it is the kind of show that displays the breadth and depth of what theatre is. Our talented director, Roi Boyd, and his awesome cast really bring the play to full fruition.”
“Home” is a theatrical tale of one man’s struggle to stay true to himself amidst a rapidly changing and turbulent America. Leaving behind his family’s farm in North Carolina, Cephus Miles seeks refuge and prosperity in the North. Over the course of Cephus’ epic journey, from adolescence to adulthood, the drama spans the 1950’s through the Civil Rights era and the 1960’s to the Vietnam War.
In its ninth season, and second year as a producing resident company at Richmond CenterStage, the African American Repertory Theatre continues to produce professional, culturally diverse theater from an African American perspective.
“Our level of commitment is strong,” says new AART Board Chairman, William Kermit McKelvy. “We’re dedicated to celebrating the full African-American experience and engaging all communities.”
L. Roi Boyd who is an adjunct professor at Virginia Union University and Virginia Commonwealth University will direct the cast led by veteran stage actor, Toney Cobb, in the title role of “Cephus”. A native of Richmond, with roots in North Carolina, Cobb has been a part of the Richmond theatre scene for the past 20 years.
“My performance is inspired by my late father and both late grandfathers,” Cobb said, “they were true North Carolina gentlemen”.
The cast of “Home”, who will portray more than twenty-five characters, also features AART senior ensemble member Kesha Oliver, and talented actress Shantell Hamilton. The creative team includes costumer Maura Cravey, lighting designer Geno Brantley and stage manager Sharalyn Bailey.
In its original Broadway production in 1980, Home ran at Broadway’s Cort Theatre and received Tony and Drama Desk Award nominations for Best Play.
Tickets are available to “Home” for adults $35, seniors $25 and college students $20 online at www.aartva.org. Gottwald Playhouse, CenterStage, 600 E Grace St.