John Jahnke, the actor, director and author of a series of fantastical and extravagant plays, will unveil his latest, Shady Maids of Haiti, at Tribeca's Walker Space Sept. 27-Oct. 19.
The cast includes Christina Campanella, Tanisha Thompson, Grant Neale, Ron Butler and Natalie Lebert.
Shady Maids takes place in 1804, during the island's famous slave revolution. Four characters are in desperate need to gain control of a piece of land. One is an exiled French poet. He is carrying a dormant form of syphilis, which he passes on to his wife. As she begins to show signs of disease, he rejects her. In retaliation, the wife takes a wounded, runaway slave into her bed. The poet strikes back by hiring the slave as his gardener. But the hired man has plans of his own, including seizing the couple's land for military purposes.
The play will feature Jahnke's signature stylized, overripe dialogue. The hothouse words will be complemented by a hothouse set, in which the character hate, love and lust among trees, large flowers, wells of water and dirt holes.
Jahnke fascination with myth, fable, history and obscure historical and literary figures is evident again in Haiti, as the plot is drawn in part from Haitian mythology and the symbolist writings of Rachilde. Campanella is a veteran of Richard Foreman's work, having starred in Benita Canova.
Jahnke's previous New York works include Lola Montez in Bavaria and Mercurius, both seen at HERE. Prior to that, he worked with late avant gardist Reza Abdoh's Dar a Luz company in L.A.
Tickets are $15. Walker Space is located at 46 Walker Street near Broadway. For information, call (646) 221-4021.
—By Robert Simonson