Strategic, intentional, and well-placed steps are what bring the production of a new play to the stage, and Pillsbury House Theatre, a community institution in the Twin Cities, is doing just that with “the road weeps, the well runs dry.”
“We’re really excited about this opportunity to bring new work to Minneapolis. The LARK allows us to support the work and this particular play in a way that most plays aren’t – through community conversations and engagement, even after the show has closed,” says Faye Price, Co-Artistic Producing Director of Pillsbury House.
“the road weeps, the well runs dry,” by up-and-coming young playwright Marcus Gardley, explores the lives and experiences of Black Seminoles in 19th century America. Slated for a Fall 2013 opening, award-winning director Marion McClinton will take on the immense job of interpreting Gardley’s complex and poetic historical drama.
Pillsbury House is in the process of pulling together two community events before the play’s premiere. “The first one will take place on July 24, at the Playwright’s Center, in the Seward Neighborhood,” says Price. “We want to have a conversation on producing new plays locally, with both Marcus Gardley and the general public.”
The other event the theater is hoping to organize will be a conversation with area academics and cultural workers, around the idea of migration of African Americans and Native Americans to Minnesota. This event will also be open to the general public, and will take place when the cast begins rehearsing the play, the week of August 19.
Price explains, “We are planning to connect to the Minnesota Historical Society, the Minnesota African American Museum and Cultural Center, as well as with various academics in Native American and African American Studies. This can definitely be a conversation about the past and the facts around what happened, but I think that we really want to get at, ‘Where does all of this leave us today’?”
When asked what Pillsbury House’s production of “the road weeps…” may look like and ultimately bring to fruition, Price replies, “For us, it’s going to be a different kind of production, in that it’s set in the past. We usually do plays about contemporary social issues. So, although ‘the road weeps…’ is set in history, but because it’s at Pillsbury House, I don’t think that people will be able to remove themselves, and treat the play as a museum piece. They will have to really reckon with its meaning and implications now…And there will be something provocative for all audiences. Will it be the founding of African American towns, and their fight for legitimacy? Or perhaps the legacy of certain Native American tribes and individuals owning slaves? I can’t say, but I do know that this is a play that will have a lot to offer people.”
*Photo courtesy of Vassar & New York Stage and Film / Buck Lewis
*Photo Caption: ‘road weeps…’ playwright Marcus Gardley and director Marion McClinton, at a reading of Gardley’s play “The House That Will Not Stand,” at Vassar & New York Stage and Film’s 28th Powerhouse Theater workshop last summer. The two will be again working side-by-side, in Pillsbury House’s production this fall.