Playwright Rick Gray used his experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya to create last year's solo-show The Impossible Safari at HERE Arts Center. Now, he revisits that inspiration in his new play Kariuki's Notebook playing at lower Manhattan's La MaMa E.T.C. Feb. 22-March 11.
In Kariuki's Notebook, a Kenyan high school is being demolished to make way for a resort hotel. But, the Peace Corps teacher, who has been trying to reach the Kikuyu children, refuses to leave. The focus soon turns to one of this teacher's best students, Kariuki, whose notebook stories are read and acted out.
Sonoko Kawahara directs the play which combines farce and traditional African folklore. The cast includes David Townsend, Chris Roberts, John-Charles Kelly, Kris Kamau, Corrine Edgerly, Bridgit Evans, and Robert Lee Taylor. In addition, they will be joined by Harlem School of the Arts students who will play the Greek-chorus-like Kikuyu students. They include Shandrika Barlow, Jilliannie Hamburgo, Diamond Hammond, Tiffany Harris, Michelle Jimenez, William Mallory, Diana Mendez, Britney Trigg and Brittany Wood.
The creative team includes David Korins, who handles sets and Lapp-Chi Chu, who provides lighting. Miranda Hoffman designs costumes and Tim Schellenbaum coordinates sound.
Kariuki's Notebook will open at La Mama's First Floor Theater, 74A East Fourth Street. For tickets call the box office at (212) 475-7710. For more information, enter La MaMa's URL at www.lamama.org. — by Ernio Hernandez