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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

 

Aug
28
Wed
7:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Aug 28 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Aug
29
Thu
7:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Aug 29 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Aug
30
Fri
8:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Aug 30 @ 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Aug
31
Sat
8:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Aug 31 @ 8:00 pm – 10:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Sep
1
Sun
2:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Sep 1 @ 2:00 pm – 4:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Sep
3
Tue
7:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Sep 3 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019  
Sep
4
Wed
7:00 pm Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy
Sep 4 @ 7:00 pm – 9:30 pm
Between Riverside And Crazy
Between Riverside And Crazy by Stephen Adly Guirgis Directed by Judith Moreland 2015 Pulitzer Prize Winner Sacramento Premiere August 28 – September 29, 2019