Keith Powell, artistic director of the Barrymore Award-winning Contemporary Stage Company, will direct the 2005 summer production in what is the troupe's second season. This year, CSC graduates from Equity guest artist contract to SPT status. As previously reported, Keith David will play Michael, the writer husband of Agnes, in the warm two-actor play about a loving and bumpy marriage circa 1890-1925.
Guy appeared in the musical revival of Chicago and is known for her work on the TV sitcom "A Different World." On the stage, Keith David is best known for his Tony-nominated turn opposite Gregory Hines in Jelly's Last Jam. He also starred on Broadway as the lead in August Wilson's Seven Guitars, and Off-Broadway as the title role in Othello at the New York Shakespeare Festival.
Young director Powell, then 24, lured Lynn Redgrave to his tiny theatre in 2004 for Collected Stories. She and her co-star Karina Mackenzie won Barrymore Awards for their work, making CSC's spot on the map more indelible.
"Last summer watching Lynn Redgrave in rehearsal was like four years of graduate school," Powell told Playbill.com.
The director has been in discussions with the estate of Jan de Hartog and in conversations with designers about the visual world of The Fourposter, which will indicate Harlem without changing the text. One can imagine a gramophone and a stack of brittle Fats Waller and Scott Joplin discs on stage. The title refers to the couple's bed, which is central to the scenic design. "I was interested in making this rooted in the real world," Powell said. "The play is set basically 1890-1925 and that's right around the time of the Harlem Renaissance. The couple live in a brownstone. So why not a brownstone in Harlem?"
Powell admitted that it helps that Michael is indicated in the script as a writer: It links the character to the creative community of the Harlem Renaissance (think Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston). A different occupation — an accountant or a fish monger, say — might prevent Powell's directorial take.
The Fourposter runs July 6-17 at The Baby Grand Theater at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington, DE.
As previously reported, CSC has also snagged Tony Award winner Richard Easton (The Invention of Love) for the East Coast premiere of Joe Sutton's Restoring the Sun (June 1-12). Kent Paul will direct.
The brainchild of Powell, the 25-year-old African-American actor-producer, Contemporary Stage Company is a multicultural summer theatre company located in The Baby Grand Theater at The Grand Opera House in downtown Wilmington, DE. CSC's mission is "to produce and promote plays representing the full spectrum of many cultures," offering colorblind casting where appropriate.
In addition, CSC will present 30 Plays in 60 Minutes by the Neo-Futurists, an audience-interactive bonus production.
The East Coast premiere of Restoring the Sun (June 1-12) "is a heart-pounding science thriller about following one's dreams at all costs" and The Fourposter (July 6-17), which originally starred Hume Cronyn and Jessica Tandy is the study of a marriage. The latter play inspired the musical I Do! I Do!
For Restoring the Sun, director Kent Paul will bring together the same production team that worked on Collected Stories last year: Michael Schweikardt for sets, Nanzi Adzima for costumes, Matthew McCarthy for lights, and Robert Rees for original music. Playwright Sutton was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his play Voir Dire. His work has been seen around the country at such theatres as New York Theatre Workshop, Seattle Rep, the Old Globe, Arena Stage, and more.
The Fourposter received 1952's Tony Award for Best Play.
30 Plays in 60 Minutes is better known as Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind, and is the creation of The Neo-Futurists, a comedy troupe based out of Chicago who performs the 30 plays in New York and in their home city.
"I had the pleasure of performing this amazing production myself while an apprentice in college.” said Powell. "Never have I had more fun onstage or seen audiences have more fun watching. I'm so excited to present this production to Wilmington. I know it'll be a big hit."
Additional casting for the season will be announced in coming weeks.
Keith Powell attended St. Mark's High School in Wilmington before getting his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts. Producing credits include New York productions of The Mouse That Roared, Enter Pissarro, Indra & Agni Collide and a workshop of Kidding Jane with Ellen McLaughlin and William Charles Mitchell. Powell is the resident director for Equalogy, a professional touring company promoting social change, for which he directed two plays by August Schulenberg, Four Hearts Changing and One Night. His other directing credits include Dutchman, Quality of Silence, The Visit and Enter Pissarro. As an actor, Powell has appeared in numerous national network commercials. His theatre credits include Romeo & Juliet (The Shakespeare Theatre, Washington, D.C.), Kidding Jane (Portland Stage Company), Macbeth (Pittsburgh Public Theater), As Bees in Honey Drown (Hangar Theater, Ithaca, NY), and The French (HB Playwrights Foundation, NYC) among others. He splits his time between New York City and New Castle.
Performances are Wednesdays at 7 PM, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays at 8 PM, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 PM. 30 Plays in 60 Minutes will perform June 17-26, Fridays and Saturdays at 7 PM and 9 PM and Sundays at 2 PM.
Season subscriptions are on sale now, and can be purchased by calling (800) 37-GRAND or by visiting www.contemporarystage.org.