Manhattan Theatre Club will have a 2002 Pulitzer Prize finalist in its 2002-03 season.
Dael Orlandersmith's Yellowman, a play about light and dark-skinned people of color, and conflicting perceptions and prejudices about skin tone, was named one of the finalists for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama April 8. Manhattan Theatre Club, the not-for-profit largely devoted to new voices, new plays or New York premieres, previously announced Yellowman as its 2002 fall season opener. It will begin performances Oct. 1 and open Oct. 22 at MTC's Stage I at City Center, MTC announced April 8. As she has in a recent tour of nonprofit theatres, playwright Orlandersmith will star in her own work, with Howard W. Overshown. Blanka Zizka will direct, as she has for the staging over the past year.
In a co-production arrangement, the play has been seen at the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia, McCarter Theatre in Princeton and (currently) the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, and was submitted for Pulitzer consideration. Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Rebecca Gilman's The Glory of Living was also a finalist. This is the first Pulizter for Drama awarded to an African-American woman.
MTC produced David Auburn's hit Off-Broadway and Broadway play, Proof, which earned the 2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and the 2001 Tony Award for Best Play. It's currently at the Walter Kerr Theatre.
* Orlandersmith's Yellowman is currently enjoying a run at Long Wharf Theatre through May 5 (performances began April 3), with the actress-playwright in one of the two roles. The two-hander, which also features Overshown (Blue), will move on to Seattle's ACT, July 5-Aug. 4.
Yellowman takes its title from the skin-tone definition among African Americans: Those with lighter skin tones are considered "yellow." In the play, dark-skinned Alma (Orlandersmith) and light-skinned Eugene (Overshown) feel destined to love one another, if they can overcome their prejudices against one another's color. Orlandersmith also penned Monster and The Gimmick.
Current Yellowman director Blanka Zizka is co-artistic director of the Wilma. A Barrymore Award-winner, Zizka helmed Jim Cartwright's Road, Avenue X and The Invention of Love.
Designing Yellowman are Klara Zieglerova (sets), Janus Stefanowicz (costumes), Russell H. Champa (lights) and Elliott Sharp (composer).
Tickets are $15-$45. For reservations, call (203) 787-4282. The Long Wharf Theatre is on the web at http://www.longwharf.org.
— By Kenneth Jones
and Christine Ehren