The West Coast premiere of Dael Orlandersmith's "Stoop Stories" begins performances Wednesday, July 7 at 8 p.m. and opens Friday, July 9 at 8 p.m. at Center Theatre Group's Kirk Douglas Theatre. "Stoop Stories," the solo performance piece written and performed by Dael Orlandersmith, runs for six performances only through July 11, 2010, as part of DouglasPlus programming.
In "Stoop Stories," Orlandersmith transforms herself into characters from the New York neighborhoods of her youth, capturing the diverse voices and rhythms of urban street life. Her characters include, among others, a rocker-turned-junkie, an impressionable young poetess and an elderly Jewish immigrant who recalls the night many years before when he was sitting at a favorite neighbor bar and a down-on-her-luck Billie Holiday sat down next to him.
Orlandersmith won an Obie Award for "Beauty's Daughter," which she wrote and starred in at American Place Theatre in 1995. Her play, "Monster," premiered at New York Theatre Workshop in November 1996. "The Gimmick," premiered at the McCarter Theatre and went on to great acclaim at the Long Wharf Theatre and New York Theatre Workshop. "Yellowman" also premiered at the McCarter in a co-production with the Wilma and Long Wharf Theatres. She was a Pulitzer Prize Award finalist in 2002 for "Yellowman," which played at the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles in 2005. Orlandersmith first performed "Stoop Stories" in 2008 at The Public Theater as part of the Under the Radar Festival, then in 2009 at Studio Theatre in Washington, D.C. and at The Goodman Theatre. Her other plays include "The Blue Album," created in collaboration with David Cale, "Horsedreams" and "Suicide Girlz." Early in her career, she toured extensively with the Nuyorican Poets Café throughout the United States, Europe and Australia.
In addition to "Stoop Stories," Orlandersmith will bring the world premiere of her new play "Bones" to the Kirk Douglas Theatre as part of DouglasPlus programming. Orlandersmith's "Bones," which was commissioned by Center Theatre Group, is directed by Gordon Edelstein. It will be presented for nine performances only, July 30 through August 8.
"Bones," which includes three actors and two onstage jazz musicians, portrays a family - a mother and her grown son and daughter, who are all unable to move forward from a damaged past.
The daughter, who can no longer live with "these ugly things in my head," decides that it is time to confront the family's history and summons the three of them to a meeting. They converge on the neutral ground of a shabby airport hotel. There, Orlandersmith's piercing, evocative story riffs between divergent memories and accusations, and moves with a pulsing drive toward a reckoning, a truth so hard that you can feel it in your bones.
Tickets for "Stoop Stories" and "Bones" are $20 for each presentation, or $30 when both shows are purchased together. The tickets are available by calling (213) 628-2772, online at www.CenterTheatreGroup.org, in person at the CTG box office at the Ahmanson Theatre or two hours prior to performances at the Kirk Douglas Theatre box office.