The Guthrie Theater today announced the cast and creative team for Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage, directed by Nicole A. Watson. Blues for an Alabama Sky will play January 28 – March 12, 2023, on the Wurtele Thrust Stage. Single tickets start at $20 for preview performances (January 28 – February 2).
All other performances range from $31 to $80. Single and group tickets are on sale now through the Box Office at 612.377.2224 (single), 1.877.447.8243 (toll-free), 612.225.6244 (group) or online at guthrietheater.org. Accessibility services (ASL-interpreted, audio-described, open-captioned and relaxed performances) are available on select dates. For up-to-date information about the theater’s health and safety policies, visit www.guthrietheater.org/health.
“I’m thrilled to present Pearl Cleage‘s Blues for an Alabama Sky as part of the Guthrie’s 60th season,” said Artistic Director Joseph Haj. “This brilliant drama, set during the Harlem Renaissance, follows compelling characters and speaks to themes of relevance today, from living an authentic life to following one’s dreams. I’m also honored to have the outstanding director, Nicole A. Watson, lead our extraordinary company in telling this beautiful story of hope and determination.”
In a Depression-era Harlem apartment building, a close-knit group of friends has become a chosen family. New roommates Angel and Guy – a recently fired blues singer and a promising costume designer with Paris in his sights – live across the hall from Delia, a social worker who sparks a relationship with the hardworking doctor Sam. Their lives are upturned when Southern newcomer Leland arrives and falls hard for Angel, who is torn between a stable life in Manhattan and an exhilarating overseas adventure with Guy. Angel chooses her path, but the decision leads to devastating consequences, shifting the trajectory of everyone’s futures and long-held dreams.
Blues for an Alabama Sky was originally commissioned by Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, where it had its world premiere in 1995. This production marks the first time Cleage’s work has been produced at the Guthrie. The cast of Blues for an Alabama Sky features Brittany Bellizeare (Guthrie: The Bluest Eye) as Delia, Lamar Jefferson (Guthrie: The Tempest, A Christmas Carol, West Side Story) as Guy, Darius Jordan Lee (Guthrie: West Side Story) as Leland, Kimberly Marable (Guthrie: debut) as Angel and Stephen Conrad Moore (Guthrie: The Parchman Hour) as Sam.
The creative team for Blues for an Alabama Sky includes Pearl Cleage (Playwright), Nicole A. Watson (Director), Lawrence E. Moten III (Scenic Designer), Sarita Fellows (Costume Designer), Sherrice Mojgani (Lighting Designer), Paul James Prendergast (Sound Designer/Composer), Faye M. Price (Dramaturg), Keely Wolter (Vocal Coach), Aaron Preusse (Fight Director), Shae Palic (Intimacy), Jennifer Liestman (Resident Casting Director), Karl Alphonso (Stage Manager), Jackie Mercer (Assistant Stage Manager), Jessica Natalie Smith (Assistant Director) and McCorkle Casting, Ltd. (NYC Casting Consultant).
Pearl Cleage (Playwright) is an Atlanta-based writer whose plays include Angry, Raucous and Shamelessly Gorgeous, What I Learned in Paris, Flyin’ West, Blues for an Alabama Sky and Bourbon at the Border, which were commissioned by Alliance Theatre where Cleage is Distinguished Artist in Residence. She is also the author of A Song for Coretta, written in 2007 while the Cosby Professor in Women’s Studies at Spelman College, and The Nacirema Society…, which was commissioned by Alabama Shakespeare Festival and premiered in 2010. Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky recently received an award-winning production at London’s National Theatre, directed by Lynette Linton. Her plays have also been performed at Arena Stage, Hartford Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Huntington Theatre Company, Long Wharf Theatre, Just Us Theatre Company, True Colors Theatre, Bushfire Theatre, Intiman Theatre, The Black Rep and 7 Stages. She is also an accomplished performance artist, often working with her husband, writer Zaron W. Burnett, Jr., in their Live at Club Zebra! performance installation. They have performed at the National Black Arts Festival, National Black Theatre Festival and colleges across the country. They also collaborated with performance artists Idris Ackamoor and Rhodessa Jones on the script for The Love Project, which premiered at the National Black Theatre Festival in 2008. Cleage is also an accomplished novelist, with her New York Times bestseller What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day being chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. Cleage has been awarded grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, Fulton County Arts Council, Georgia Council for the Arts, Atlanta Bureau of Cultural Affairs and The Coca-Cola Foundation. Among her many awards is a 2008 NAACP Image Award for Fiction and a 2022 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Dramatists Guild.
Nicole A. Watson (Director) is a freelance director and educator with an interest in new play development and plays that deal with the past. A former history teacher, she started directing in 2008 and works in New York City as well as universities and theaters throughout the U.S. She is currently Associate Artistic Director at McCarter Theatre Center after holding the same position at Round House Theatre for more than two years. She is a member of the New Georges Jam and has worked with New Dramatists, The Lark, The Fire This Time Festival, The New Black Fest, WP Theater, The 52nd Street Project, Signature Theatre and Working Theater. Directing credits include School Girls…; The Niceties; A Doll’s House, Part 2; Sweat; The Great Society; Night of the Living N-Word (world premiere); The Mountaintop; Approaching Ali (world premiere opera); World Builders (world premiere); Foreign Bodies; We Play for the Gods; Blindsight; A Melodic Hypothesis; and Eli and Cheryl Jump. Watson has been a teaching artist at McCarter Theatre Center, Tribeca Film Institute, New-York Historical Society and Museum of the City of New York. She received a B.A. in History at Yale University and an M.A. at NYU Gallatin School of Individualized Study.
Relaxed Performance – Sunday, March 5 at 1 p.m.
A relaxed performance is intended to be sensitive to and accepting of any audience member who may benefit from a more relaxed environment. It is intentionally modified to accommodate patrons with sensory and vestibular sensitivities, anxiety, dementia, autism spectrum disorders, learning differences and/or other challenges attending the theater. Single tickets to the relaxed performance of Blues for An Alabama Sky are $29 for adults and $15 for children. Tickets may be purchased online or by calling the Box Office at 612.377.2224. For more information, visit www.guthrietheater.org/relaxed.
Masks are currently encouraged but not required for all Tuesday – Saturday performances. Masks are required for all Sunday performances and must securely cover the nose and mouth (no bandanas, neck gaiters or face shields) when entering and inside the Wurtele Thrust Stage. A complete list of Guthrie requirements is available at www.guthrietheater.org/health.
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