Tag Archives: National Book Award

‘Citizen’ Rehearsals Trigger Thought-Provoking Talk Between Actors at Fountain Theatre

Cast of 'Citizen" have table talk.

Cast of ‘Citizen’ have table talk.

Rehearsals are now underway for our exciting world premiere stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine‘s acclaimed book about race in America, Citizen: An American Lyric. Only a few days into rehearsal , the new play has already inspired an honest, open and insightful dialogue between the actors, sharing thoughts and feelings about race, identity, human connection, self-awareness and what it means to be a citizen in this country. 

Adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs and directed by Shirley Jo Finney, the free-flowing and fast-moving theatre piece opens August 1st. 

The talented ensemble cast includes Bernard K. Addison, Leith Burke, Tina Lifford, Tony Maggio, Simone Missick, and Lisa Pescia.  

Before the cast was permitted to turn to page one of the script and begin the painstaking process of exploring and analyzing the text, it was essential to Director Finney that the actors have a frank conversation with each other about their own life experiences concerning race, social/cultural interaction and human relationships. To get to the heart of the issues exposed in this play, Finney insisted, it must be personal. The result was a spirited dialogue at the rehearsal table that was raw, insightful, painful, funny and enlightening.    

Actor Tony Maggio.

Actor Tony Maggio and company discuss the play.

This powerful  and thought-provoking stage adaptation fuses theatre, music, sound, movement,  and video imagery. Snapshots, vignettes, a meditation on the acts of everyday racism. Remarks, glances, seeming slips of the tongue. Those did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just say-that slurs that happen every day. And the larger incidents that become national firestorms. As Rankine writes, “This is how you are a citizen.”

Rankine’s acclaimed book is the Winner of the 2015 National Book Award, the 2015 Los Angeles Book Award, and the PEN Award.

At Monday night’s first rehearsal, producer Simon Levy guided the company through production business, scheduling and paperwork. Costume designer Naila Aladdin Sanders took measurements of the actors. Director Shirley Jo Finney spoke about her vision for the play. The script was then read aloud by the cast.  Also present were Co-Artistic Director Deborah Lawlor, Director of Devlopment Barbara Goodhill, designers Yee Eun Nam, and Dillon Nelson, movement director Anastasia Coon, publicist Lucy Pollak, and intern Isabel Espy.  

The meditation on race and truthful questioning of social interaction dramatized in this new work is timely for our city and our country.  Our world premiere stage adaptation of Citizen: An American Lyric promises to be the theatrical event of the summer and will certainly generate much-needed conversation. We urge all citizens to join us for this illuminating and important ride! Opens August 1st. 

Photo Slideshow: Table Talk

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Free Reading of New Stage Adaptation of Award-Winning Book ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’ at the Fountain Theatre

citizen-crop

The Fountain will present a free reading of its new stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine‘s acclaimed, award-winning book Citizen: An American Lyric, this Sunday, May 31 at 7pm at the Fountain Theatre. This will be an exclusive first-time reading of the script that is currently in development, adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs and directed by Shirley Jo Finney. The world premiere full production is planned for this summer.

Citizen: An American Lyric is a provocative meditation on race fusing prose, poetry, and the visual image. A lyric poem, snapshots, vignettes, on the acts of everyday racism. Remarks, glances, implied judgments. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams and the soccer field with Zinedine Zidane, online, on TV — everywhere, all the time. Those did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just say-that slurs that happen every day and enrage in the moment and later steep poisonously in the mind. And, of course, those larger incidents that become national or international firestorms. As Rankine writes, “This is how you are a citizen.”

Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine

Born in Jamaica, Claudia Rankine earned her BA in English from Williams College and her MFA in poetry from Columbia University. She is the author of five collections of poetry: Citizen: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2014); Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (Graywolf Press, 2004); PLOT (Grove Press, 2001); The End of the Alphabet (Grove Press, 1998); and Nothing in Nature is Private (Cleveland State University Poetry Center, 1995), which received the Cleveland State Poetry Prize. Her honors include fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowments for the Arts. In 2005, Rankine was awarded the Academy Fellowship for distinguished poetic achievement by the Academy of American Poets. She is currently the Henry G. Lee Professor of English at Pomona College.

Citizen: An American Lyric has earned international critical praise and has been honored with the National Book Award, the Los Angeles Times Book Award, the NAACP Image Award, and is a PEN Award finalist.    

The actors featured in Sunday’s script reading include Bernard K. Addison, Chris Butler, Tina Lifford, Simone Missick, Linda Park, Amy Pietz and Larry Poindexter.

Author Claudia Rankine will be in attendance at the reading.  

The stage reading on Sunday, May 31 at 7pm, is free of charge. Seating is limited.  Click here to reserve your seat, or call (323) 663-1525.