2008-2009 Season

Theater Department Productions

 New Play Festival | Special Events  

Blues for an Alabama Sky

by Pearl Cleage
Featuring Culley Guest Artists, Tre Garrett, director, and recent alum Kadiatou (Kaja) Martin in the role of Angel Allen

Check out our production photos on Flickr!

November 5-8 at 7:30pm
November 9 at 2:00pm
in Keck Theater

"It is the summer of 1930 in Harlem, New York. The creative euphoria of the Harlem Renaissance has given way to the harsher realities of the Great Depression. Young Reverend Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. is feeding the hungry and preaching an activist gospel at Abyssinian Baptist Church. Black Nationalist visionary, Marcus Garvey, has been discredited and deported. Birth control pioneeer, Margaret Sanger, is opening a new family planning clinic on 126th Street, and the doctors at Harlem Hospital are scrambling to care for a population whose most deadly disease is poverty. The play brings together a rich cast of characters who reflect the conflicting currents of the time through their overlapping personalities and politics. Set in the Harlem apartment of Guy, a popular costume designer, and his friend, Angel, a recently fired Cotton Club back-up singer, the cast also includes Sam, a hard-working, jazz-loving doctor at the Harlem Hospital; Delia, an equally dedicated member of the staff at the Sanger clinic; and Leland, a recent transplant from Tuskegee, who sees in Angel a memory of lost love and a reminder of those “Alabama skies where the stars are so thick, it’s bright as day." Invoking the image of African American expatriate extraordinaire, Josephine Baker, as both muse and myth, Cleage’s characters struggle, as Guy says, “to look beyond 125th Street" for the fulfillment of their dreams." (from the rear cover of the script published by Dramatists Play Service, Inc.)

Pearl Cleage is a noted African American playwright, writer, and teacher. Her other plays include Flyin’ WestBlues For An Alabama Sky was written for the Alliance Theater in Atlanta, GA as part of the Arts Festival connected to the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.

Check out our production photos on Flickr!
Blues for an Alabama Sky program

Saint Joan

by George Bernard Shaw
Directed By Alan Freeman

November 19-22, 2008 at 7:30pm

November 23 at 2:00pm

Shaw’s Saint Joan is the masterpiece of one of the world’s greatest playwrights. Written in 1923, shortly after Joan received sainthood, Shaw wrote his version of her historic tragedy after meticulous research, which included the ancient transcripts of Joan of Arc’s heresy trial. The play is filled with wit, tenderness, treachery, politics, and paradox, along with some of the richest characters of the 20th Century stage. The premise of Saint Joan is simple.  The quote from the website of the Royal National Theatre for last year’s production says it plainly: “A country girl in her late teens declares her bloody mission to drive the English from France and to crown the reluctant Dauphin as King." Aided, as she says, by the “voices" of her saints, Catherine, Margaret, and Michael, Joan succeeds in her mission and in the process rocks both church and state. The Inquisition finds her guilty and condemns her to death by fire in the town square at Rouen in May, 1431. A surreal epilogue – a dream of King Charles – Shaw’s brilliant piece of irony – closes the play.

Saint Joan program

Hair

The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical
Lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado
Music by Galt McDermot
Directed by Alan Freeman
Music Direction by Stephen Gothold
Staged by Alan Freeman and Mark Knowles
Choreography by Mark Knowles
Scenic & Lighting Design by Susan Gratch
Costume Design by Tom Slotten

An icon for its time. Treasured and reviled, both then and now, HAIR, sings the myth of a generation. A musical for another age comes round again testing and tasting the profane and the sacred, the satiric and the lyrical, along with the agonizing facts and the psychedelic fantasies of 1968, when American society divided against itself over a 4-year war that continued for 5 more years.

April 17 & 18, 24 & 25 at 7:30pm
April 19 & 26 at 2:00pm
May 16 at 8:00pm
in Keck Theater

Staged walkabout style as never before; on the flattened, psychedelic floor of the flexible auditorium of the Keck Theater. Reserved seating is available in the galleries.

Two-thirds of the audience will be sitting on the floor (there are no chairs in the “orchestra section") and will be occasionally asked to stand and move around the gymnasium style floor. The audience becomes an integral part of the staging, allowing for an experience of immediacy and intimacy rarely possible in live theater.

Check out our production photos on Flickr!
Hair program

More & Special Events

Anna Leath

Written and directed by John Bouchard
adapted from Edith Wharton’s The Reef
a studio production in Keck Theater
April 21 & 22, 2009
Admission is FREE

Anna Leath is the story of four Americans in France: two couples– one in the middle of life, the other just entering adulthood, who are caught in an unsettling dance of emotional need and sexual desire. For recently widowed Anna Leath, who has dreamed of finding a “bridge to life" from the isolation of her sheltered adolescence, life becomes available only through an accommodation to a complexity never hinted at in the stories and novels of her youth.

Words, Rhymes, and Drama: An Evening of Hip Hop Theater

The Occidental College Department of Theater, supported by the G. William Hume Fellowship in the Performing Arts, and with sponsorship from the Intercultural Community Center and the Black Student Alliance presents:

WORDS, RHYMES, AND DRAMA:
AN EVENING OF HIP HOP THEATER

Solo Performance by Will Power
Featuring DJ Reborn

Friday, Feb. 6 at 8 pm
in Thorne Hall

Featuring excerpts from his award winning productions The Seven and FLOW, Will Power will also perform new work in progress.

Will Power “…combines the complexity of serious drama with the visual and sonic arsenal of MTV" – New York Times

Viewed as a pioneer in the genre of Hip Hop Theater, Will Power has created his own style of theatrical communication, fusing original music, rhymed language and dynamic choreography to produce compelling evenings of work. His adaptation of the Greek tragedy Seven Against Thebes, re-titled The Seven, recently completed a successful Off-Broadway run at the New York Theater Workshop. The play was hailed as both an audience favorite and a critical success, and called everything from “brilliant" (The Village Voice), to “exhilarating" (USA Today), to “a spectacular offering to the theater Gods" (Time Out New York). Will Power’s nationally and internationally acclaimed solo show FLOW has been described as “astounding" (CurtainUp) and “theater with the refreshing aroma of originality" (New York Times).

Will Power’s varied skills, high-energy performances and lyrics are matched only by his remarkable teaching ability, providing communities across the globe with tools of self-expression.

Will Power on the Tavis Smiley Show

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