By Andrea Siebentritt
What’s Topdog/Underdog about?
Topdog/Underdog is a story of two brothers and their struggle to come to terms with their past, their relationships with one another, and their identities. A dark comedy, Topdog/Underdog features Lincoln and Booth, two brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment.
Lincoln is a former master of three-card monte, but he has forsaken the con game for a more legitimate form of deception: playing Abe Lincoln in an arcade. His less successful, younger brother, Booth, aspires to become a monte master himself. He even plans to change his name to Three-Card. In Topdog/Underdog, brotherly love and hatred is translated into the terms of men who have known betrayal since their youth — when their parents walked out on them — and who will never be able to entirely trust anyone, including each other.
Who is Suzan-Lori Parks?
Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American female to win the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 2002 … for Topdog/Underdog. She is a MacArthur Genius Award Recipient, and some of her other numerous plays include Father Comes Home From The Wars, In the Blood, Venus, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, and The America Play. In 2007, her 365 Plays/ 365 Days was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Her work is the subject of the PBS Film The Topdog Diaries.
Parks’ first feature-length screenplay was Girl 6, written for Spike Lee. She’s also adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God which premiered on ABC’s Oprah Winfrey Presents.
Suzan-Lori credits her writing teacher and mentor, James Baldwin, for starting her on the path of playwrighting. One of the first to recognize Parks’ writing skills, Mr. Baldwin declared Parks “an astonishing and beautiful creature who may become one of the most valuable artists of our time.”
Why is Topdog/Underdog Important?
kb saine, the play’s director, describes Topdog/Underdog as “one of the most honest, contemporary plays that really digs into the roots of fraternal interdependence and the real struggles of African-American males’ daily lives.” Implicit in the brothers’ relationship is the idea that to live is to be a con. Audiences will find themselves engrossed in the story of where Booth and Lincoln find their ideas of salvation, and in Lincoln’s struggle against the temptation of the Three-Card Monte.
What’s Acts of Faith?
Each spring, Sycamore Rouge is proud to be a part of the Acts of Faith Festival, a collaboration between the faith community and professional theatre companies in the greater Richmond region. Second Presbyterian Church founded the Acts of Faith Festival in 2005 and it has grown to a full community-wide event involving 18 theatres and close to 20 Christian, Jewish and Islamic congregations. Using theatre as a vehicle to illuminate issues and questions, the Festival provides conversations about the arts and faith. As one of the plays of the Acts of Faith Festival, Topdog/Underdog will feature at least one talkback immediately following the performance to discuss the faith issues presented in the play. The talkback for Topdog/Underdog will include the director, the actors and a local faith leader, and will take place after the 4 p.m. show on Sunday, March 4.
Details for Coming to the Show:
February 17 – March 11
Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.
Sundays at 4 p.m.
Tickets: $18 – $22; group rate (10 or more) $15
Buy tickets online at www.sycamorerouge.org or through the Box Office at 804-957-5707
This play contains mature themes and language and may not be suitable for all viewers.