Cast Photos by Jeremy Rashad Brown: WHITE by James Ijames, Mastrogeorge Theatre, December 6 - 22, 2018
(cast photos from Jeremy Rashad Brown)
White is a new play being brought to the Austin Stage for the very first time by Permanent Record Theatre. White tells the story of Gus, a white male visual artist, and Vanessa, a black female aspiring actress. When these two cross paths, their assumptions about art and its creation are dismantled. In this modern Frankenstein story, Gus’ desire to be acquired by a major contemporary art museum inspires him to hire a woman to claim his work as her own to meet the museum’s demand for ‘new perspectives.’ This play spins out of control as it explores issues of race, gender, sexuality, and art.
The playwright, James Ijames, is a multi-talented star of Philadelphia theater, a much-seen actor, an award-winning director, and a mentor to new generations of theater artists as assistant professor of theater at Villanova University. He was recently named one of ten recipients of the 2017 Whiting Award, a prestigious $50,000 prize. His work on White won him the 2015 Terrence McNally New Play Award; a $10,000 prize. This prize was created by Philadelphia Theatre Company, which has enjoyed a long and fruitful collaboration with Terrence McNally. The award is given annually to recognize a new play or musical that celebrates the transformative power of art.
White is loosely based upon the controversy regarding the 2014 Whitney Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art. There was an outcry when the curators included a project by Joe Scanlan, a white artist who created work with a fictional persona, an African-American woman named Donelle Woolford. Mr. Scanlan hired African-American actresses to portray this “fictional” artist who then presented his art. The YAMS Collective, an international group of artists of color, withdrew their entry for the 2014 exhibition in protest of Scanlan and Woodward’s inclusion. In an article posted on Hyperallergic , YAMS Collective member Maureen Catbagan commented: “We felt that the representation of an established academic white man posing as a privileged African-American woman is problematic, even if he tries to hide it in an avatar’s mystique… It kind of negates our presence there, our collaborative identity as representing the African diaspora.”
The secret is out. Austin is the only growing city in the nation that is losing people of color. Many believe that may be due to rising costs, but there is a segregated culture here that does not make space for underrepresented or marginalized voices. Raising the visibility for Austin citizens of color and varying identities and lifestyles has to be a priority. This project does exactly that. In such contentious times, facing the divide with a discussion on race and gender, especially in fields that are still mostly homogenous like the arts community is of the upmost importance. This play will start many important conversations while also allowing everyone to find commonality in laughter. This play tells a new and vital story. You will not want to miss this exciting, funny, and moving experience.
Directed by Delanté G. Keys
Permanent Record Theatre is a new company founded by artistic director Lindsey Markham. PR debuted in October 2017 with DRY LAND by Ruby Rae Spiegel, landing at #3 on the Statesmen’s “10 most memorable plays of 2017”. For more information check out permanentrecordtheatre.org
December 06 - December 22, 2018
130 Pedernales Street
Austin, TX, 78702
Thursdays through Saturdays at Mastrogeorge Theatre.
Mastrogeorge Theatre is located at 130 Pedernales St, Austin, TX 78702, at the corner of Cesar Chavez and Pedernales. The entrance is on Pedernales, right around the corner from Blue Owl Brewing.