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Rehearsing AN OCTOROON

Posted on September 20, 2017

Producing Artistic Director Michael Stevenson reflects on rehearsals for An Octoroon at Capital Stage

When I read An Octoroon, I remember being amazed at the script and at how the 19th century melodrama carried unintended echoes of the present. Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ fearless and inventive adaptation jumbles time, contemporary values and humor with the hard realities of race in America today. I felt it was our obligation to do such a daring piece of theatre.

After Charlottesville, this play struck me with a new resonance. I felt I woke up in a new and disturbing world. After the shock and dismay of the white supremacist march in Virginia, we as a country started to question our identity and our progress – who are we?

I vividly remember the moment in rehearsal when one of our actors started putting on blackface. Judy Moreland, our director, and I were sitting in the theatre during our designer run, and the tension in the air was palpable. I squirmed in my seat, and watched with both fascination and dread as the actor playing Pete/Paul/Assistant carefully and silently applied the blackface makeup. It was a surreal feeling – witnessing something I never thought that I would actually see in real life. Just moments before, our lead actor had put on whiteface.

As I watched the actors fearlessly step across taboos, it occurred to me, the genius of this play is that it uses taboos and stereotypes to open our eyes to our own beliefs – to a take a new look at ourselves. Dion Boucicault, the author of the original play The Octoroon, wrote it as an anti-slavery piece, but he himself was full of prejudicial beliefs. It made me begin to question what beliefs do I carry that I’m not even aware of?

A friend of mine posted this picture the other day on Facebook with the caption:  “Here’s your statue.” 

We’ve come so far, but we still have so far to go.

 

Michael Stevenson
Producing Artistic Director
Capital Stage

 

Oct
22
Tue
7:00 pm The Humans
The Humans
Oct 22 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Humans
The Humans by Stephen Karam Directed by Michael Stevenson 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Play Sacramento Premiere October 16 – November 17, 2019  
9:30 pm CapChat
CapChat
Oct 22 @ 9:30 pm – 10:30 pm
CapChat
Join Capital Stage staff and artists in discussion immediately following select performances of each production! Our CapChats expand on your theatre-going experience with stimulating conversations with the production’s artists.
Oct
23
Wed
6:00 pm Wine Wednesday
Wine Wednesday
Oct 23 @ 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm
Wine Wednesday
Join us on our patio from 6:00-7:00 pm for select Wednesday performances throughout the season for wine tasting from our season wine sponsor C.G. di Arie! Tastings included in your ticket to the evening’s performance.   [...]
7:00 pm The Humans
The Humans
Oct 23 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Humans
The Humans by Stephen Karam Directed by Michael Stevenson 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Play Sacramento Premiere October 16 – November 17, 2019  
Oct
24
Thu
7:00 pm The Humans
The Humans
Oct 24 @ 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm
The Humans
The Humans by Stephen Karam Directed by Michael Stevenson 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Play Sacramento Premiere October 16 – November 17, 2019  
Oct
25
Fri
7:00 pm Beer Friday
Beer Friday
Oct 25 @ 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm
Beer Friday
Join us on our patio from 7:00-8:00 pm for select Friday performances throughout the season for beer tasting from local craft breweries! Tastings included in your ticket to the evening’s performance. 
8:00 pm The Humans
The Humans
Oct 25 @ 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm
The Humans
The Humans by Stephen Karam Directed by Michael Stevenson 2016 Tony Award Winner for Best Play Sacramento Premiere October 16 – November 17, 2019