SAN DIEGO -- Ripped from some of the tragic headlines about Africa, Eric Cressida Wilson's Hurricane will have its local premiere Mar. 7 at the Ensemble Arts Studio Theatre .
The protagonist is Katy Longstreth, a famous poet who goes to Africa to write about a civil war and is imprisoned. While incarcerated, she writes on the walls and floors, creating women and the stories of women in order to keep herself from going insane-- and to discover who she is. The scenes in the play are the product of her imagination.
Produced by the Alien Stage Project in association with the San Diego Black Ensemble Theatre and in celebration of International Women's History Month, Wilson's play is directed by Michael Hemmingson and Beth Bayless.
Local theatregoers were first introduced to Wilson's work in 1994 when Theatre E and Sledgehammer presented her memory play, Cross-Dressing in the Depression, which received wide critical acclaim.
"The moment I finished reading this work, I knew I had to do it," said director Hemmingson. "There was no question about it. It's very rare when you are immediately drawn into a writer, when you know there is something powerful going on here . . . In 1994, I went to Rwanda to write about what was happening there, just as the lead character in the play does. I witnessed death all around me. Katy becomes the lover of a rebel leader and gets imprisoned. I returned to the States shocked and heartbroken, and I've never been the same. This happens to Katy as well. I identified greatly with her." Playwright Wilson teaches drama at Duke University. Hurricane was a finalist for the Susan Smith Blackburn Award.
Performances through Mar. 22 are Fri.-Sun at 8 PM at the Ensemble Arts Studio, 23rd & Broadway. For tickets, $10, call (619) 298-3372.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent