Three world-premiere plays about the African-American experience will comprise the 1997 season of New York's American Place Theatre. Stonewall Jackson's House, "an incendiary new comedy about a young woman who violates the ultimate racial taboo," opens the season, Feb. 16. Developed by artistic director Wynn Handman and television producer Norman Lear, Stonewall is by Jonathan Reynolds, whose Yanks 3 Detroit 0 Top Of The Seventh and Rubbers both opened at the American Place in 1975. His other plays include Tunnel Fever or The Sheep Is Out and Geniuses. Stonewall is the first full production of the Lear/Handman program "Humor Hatchery," which provided $75,000 seed money to search for comic plays "that cut into the fabric of American life."
Appearing in Stonewall Jackson's House will be Mimi Bensinger, Ron Faber, Katherine Leask, Lisa Louise Langford, and R.E. Rodgers. Designers include Henry S. Dunn (set), Chad McArver (lighting) and Barbara A. Bell (costumes).
Joseph Edwards will star in his own Fly, a 3-character comedy/drama about the spiritual journey of an African-American man "reaching for higher ground in a world that seems to be sinking." Sets for Fly, which opens April 6, are by Henry S. Dunn, lighting by Chad McArver, sound by Efrem M. Jenkins.
Finishing the season will be Nobody Says Baby Like A Black Man, compiled by Lindsay Patterson and adapted/directed by Hope Clarke. Opening May 25, Nobody is a unique theatrical collage of African American love poems, which Ruby Dee called "rhythms and counter rhythms -- beautiful, vulnerable, strong, gloriously, shamefully human -- bite-sized bits of love." Starring will be Jerome Preston Bates, Peter J. Fernandez, Adrienne Lennox and Kim Yancey.
For tickets ($35/show) and information on the American Place season, call (212) 840-3074.
--By David Lefkowitz