Marking the largest undertaking in its 10-year history, the Fountain Theatre, in association with Black Artists Network Development, will present the California premiere of The Darker Face of the Earth by Pulitzer Prize-winner and U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove. The production opens off-site at NoHo's American Renegade Theatre on Aug. 18 and runs through Sept. 17. Previews began Aug. 10.
The epic drama, infused with African tribal music, gospel song, and dance, is a retelling of the Oedipus myth set on a plantation in pre-Civil War South Carolina. Directed by Anthony J. Haney, the play explores sexual and racial tensions, and questions whether the chains of slavery are stronger than the bonds of blood and passion.
Earth had its world premiere at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (1996) and received acclaimed productions at The Kennedy Center and London's Royal National Theatre.
Dove was the first African-American and first woman to be named U.S. Poet Laureate (1993-94). She was the second African American poet to win the Pulitzer Prize (in 1987) for "Thomas and Beulah," a collection of poems loosely based on her grandparents' life.
Haney is managing artistic director of BAND. He directed the award-winning production of Oyamos' I Am a Man at the Fountain.American Renegade Theatre is located at 11136 Magnolia Blvd. For tickets and information call (323) 663-1525. The Fountain Theatre company is also mounting Richard Kalinoski's Beast on the Moon at its home space, starting Aug. 17.
-- By Willard Manus
Southern California Correspondent