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Of The Skanner News
Published: 26 July 2013

The Intiman Theatre partners with The Hansberry Project on a new program focusing on Alice Childress' classic 1955 tragedy, "Trouble in Mind."

The production is a play-within-a-play about a theater company producing a show about a young man in danger of being lynched, who is offered help by a white judge and the judge's daughter.

Organizers aim to hook up Black theater artists with a more diverse audience, through creating a community discussion around Intiman's upcoming production of "Trouble in Mind", and directed by Hansberry Artistic Director Valerie Curtis-Newton.

The Hansberry Project curates a moment in recognition and celebration of Seattle's rich History of African American Theatre by honoring Black Arts West and The Paul Robeson Theatre. They will be acknowledged from the stage and will be presented with the Legends Award at a pre-show champagne toast, July 27, at the "Diversity in the Arts: 21st Century Challenge" co-hosted by the Central District Forum for Art and Ideas, Post-Show, approx. 5:30 p.m., Cornish Rehearsal Studio at Seattle Center (formerly Intiman Theatre).

The Hansberry Project will host a conversation with several of Seattle's leading producers and presenters about the challenges and opportunities of presenting diverse work. Moderated by Curtis-Newton, the discussion will ask Seattle producers, "If you were a performer of color coming to Seattle to make a life for yourself, what would be your experience?" Using the personal as a pathway to the universal, discussion points will focus on: How you define diverse work? What role does diverse work play in the mission of your organization/venue? How do you identify artists? Is there anything different about marketing this work? What is the reaction of your "regular" audience to this work? Does producing this work lead to deeper relationships with the diverse communities in the area? Is there a difference between accessibility and diversity?

Childress wrote many plays – and the youth novel "A hero Ain't Nothin but a Sandwich" – during her lifetime in which she was a contemporary of Lorraine Hansberry, author of "Raisin in the Sun."

The two organizations will co-host a series of events during Intiman Theatre's Festival, beginning with the Hansberry Project's "Legends Award Recognition Toast" honoring Black Arts West and the Paul Robeson Theatre for their contributions to Seattle's rich theatre history at the July 17 opening night of "Trouble in Mind."

This will be the second formal collaboration between The Hansberry Project and Intiman Theatre, the first being Intiman's 2010 production of Ruined, the Pulitzer Prize-winning play about a group of women in a brothel in the modern-day Republic of Congo. Andrew Russell, Intiman's Producing Artistic Director, is no stranger to Curtis-Newton, or to the Hansberry Project; he previously served as Intiman's Associate Producer since 2009. "With Ruined," Russell said "we had the focus turned internationally with a conversation created around the lives of women in the Congo. With Trouble In Mind, the lens is turned back on us: how do we talk about race, onstage and off? How do we confront or deny our shared history?"

The aim of these organizations is purely to bridge a gap between history and present day providing a connection for traditional and new theatre audiences. "This play and partnership fit perfectly into both of our respective missions," Intiman business director Evan Tucker explained. "Intiman could do the play without Hansberry, Hansberry could host the conversation without Intiman--but it's the intersection of our audiences that we hope to find."

The chosen honorees for the July 17 event were a natural fit for this collaboration. "We approached Intiman about taking time to shine a light on Seattle's own forgotten theatre legacy," Curtis-Newton commented. "Black Arts West and The Paul Robeson Theatre came immediately to mind. When Black theatre in Seattle was really in its heyday in the 1970's and 1980's, Black Arts West and The Paul Robeson Theatre were at the center of it all."


Learn more about these events and others at intiman.org.

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