Yellowman, the latest work by OBIE-winning playwright-performer Dael Orlandersmith, will likely get a production in New York City following its current four-theatre tour of the U.S. The two hander recently closed at Princeton’s McCarter Theatre, where reviews were sanguine. From there, it travels to Philadelphia’s Wilma Theatre and New Haven’s Long Wharf Theatre—both of which co produced the work with the McCarter—before making its final stop at Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre.
Director Blanka Zizka, who is also co-artistic director of the Wilma, told Playbill On-Line that a New York berth was a distinct possibility and would probably happen during the 2002-03 season. She said three major Gotham theatres were eyeing the work, but declined to say which ones.
In the past, Orlandersmith’s work has been seen at New York Theatre Workshop. However, sources have such heavy hitters at Manhattan Theatre Club and Lincoln Center Theater considering adding Yellow Man to their roster. Both companies have, of late, welcomed productions that originated elsewhere.
Yellowman takes its title from the skin-tone definition among African Americans, those who are dark skinned and the lighter-skinned persons who are considered "yellow." In the play, dark-skinned Alma (played by Orlandersmith) and light-skinned Eugene feel destined to love one another, if they can overcome their prejudices against each other's color. Orlandersmith also penned Monster and The Gimmick.
The show played McCarter’s second stage Jan. 10-27. The Wilma dates are Feb. 13-March 17, followed by a Long Wharf run of April 3-May 12. Zizka said the play may have to be redesigned to fit ACT’s space. McCarter commissioned Yellowman, and originally asked director Marion McClinton to work on the piece with Orlandersmith when the show was workshopped at Utah’s Sundance Festival. However, McClinton was busy at the time, and Zizka was asked to take over. Following the festival, Orlandersmith requested to continue working with Zizka; McClinton agreed and stepped aside. According to Zizka, she and Orlandersmith have worked on the script for three years and through four drafts.
—By Robert Simonson