Childress' Behind-the-Curtains Drama, Trouble in Mind, Begins at Yale Rep

News   Childress' Behind-the-Curtains Drama, Trouble in Mind, Begins at Yale Rep A troupe of African-American actors are at the center of Alice Childress' theatre-themed drama Trouble in Mind, which begins performances Oct. 26 at the Yale Repertory Theatre.
E. Faye Butler in Trouble in Mind.
E. Faye Butler in Trouble in Mind.

Irene Lewis — who staged the work earlier this year at Baltimore's Center Stage, where she serves as artistic director — directs the New Haven run. The show will officially open Nov. 1 for a limited engagement through Nov. 17.

E. Faye Butler (Nunsense, Saving Aimee) plays the lead role of Wiletta Mayer opposite Thomas Jefferson Byrd (Tony Award nominee for Ma Rainey's Black Bottom), Starla Benford (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof), Don Guillory, Kevin O'Rourke, Natalia Payne, Daren Kelly, Garrett Neergaard and Laurence O'Dwyer.

Trouble in Mind centers on "Wiletta Mayer, an African-American actress of a certain age, [who] has spent her career playing stereotypes, trapped on a merry-go round of mammies, maids, and other menials," according to press materials. "The curtain rises on the first day of rehearsal for Chaos in Belleville, a Broadway bound play that tackles the harsh truths of racism in America. But when those truths spill out of the play and into the rehearsal hall, will Wiletta's insistence on her dignity cost her the work she desperately needs?"

The work was Broadway-bound following an Off-Broadway run in 1955, but when Childress refused to change the ending for the producers, the transfer was canceled. Childress is also known for her children's novel, "A Hero Ain't Nothin' But a Sandwich." 

The design team for Trouble in Mind features Michael Locher (set), Paul Carey (costumes), Melissa Mizell (lighting) and David Budries (sound). The new Yale Rep season continues with Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Molière's Tartuffe (Nov. 26-Dec. 22), the world premiere of David Adjmi's The Evildoers (Jan. 18-Feb. 9, 2008), Oscar Wilde's A Woman of No Importance (March 21-April 12, 2008) and a sixth play to announced (April 25-May 16, 2008).

Tickets to Trouble in Mind at Yale Rep, 1120 Chapel Street (at York Street) in New Haven, CT, are available by calling (203) 432-1234. For more information visit yalerep.org.

Thomas Jefferson Byrd and E. Faye Butler in the Baltimore production of <i>Trouble in Mind</i>.
Thomas Jefferson Byrd and E. Faye Butler in the Baltimore production of Trouble in Mind.