Performances will be at the Lark Studio (March 15-18 & 20-25 at 8 PM) and at Queens Theatre in the Park (March 29-April 2). Tickets are $15 and may be purchased for the Lark performances through theatermania.com, (866) 811-4111 or through www.queenstheatre.org for performances at Queens Theatre in the Park.
"When two teenagers (one black, one white) are involved in separate acts of violence the consequences they face are based not only on evidence, but also on the color of their skin," according to Lark. "Using a combination of urban poetry and dramatic action, Breathe explores the tensions, decisions and conditions that leads the boys to prison and the effect their imprisonment has on their families."
Johnson said in a statement, "Breathe was inspired by all of the senseless crimes and the innocent victims whose meaningful lives have been taken ... and the ever-looming question of who's responsible. This play is an attempt to recognize that all crimes are a result of the human condition and that maybe the cure lies not in 'drive-by's in the hood' or 'school shootings in the suburbs' but in stripping ourselves free of the social prejudices that won't allow us to see past the fence to our neighbor's house to see we both seek shelter under the same roof ... survival."
Joining Johnson in developing the piece are director Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj (Amas' Damn Yankees, History of the Word) and dramaturg Sybil Roberts. The show features actors Jerome Preston Bates, Chadwick Boseman, Jed Dickson, Barbara Gulan, Trish McCall and Nick Petrie.
This project marks the second collaboration between the Lark, Hip-Hop Theater Festival and Queens Theatre in the Park. Last year the three partnered to develop Welcome to Arroyo's, a new play by Kristoffer Diaz which has since been presented in New York's Summer Play Festival, and London's Donmar Warehouse. "The old 'rules' for producing plays don't work anymore. They don't apply to new audiences and the new realities of the theatre scene," stated Lark producing director John Clinton Eisner, "It takes innovation and an out-of-the-box approach to help new voices succeed in the theatre. The Lark, the Hip-Hop Theater Festival and Queens Theatre in the Park are committed to exploring new paths together."
Playwright Javon Johnson is a native of Anderson, SC, and a founding ensemble member of Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago, IL. He is also a member of The Dramatists Guild, the Writers League of America, Screen Actor's Guild, Actor's Equity Association, a MFA graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, BA recipient from SC State University. Johnson is the recipient of several awards including 2004 Black Theatre Alliance Lorraine Hansberry Award for Best New Play, 2003 New Professional Theatre Playwriting Award, 2001 Jefferson Award Nomination for Best New Play, 2001 and 1999 recipient of the National Project Award.
He has had play readings at Lanford Wilson's Playwrights Retreat, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Victory Gardens Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, National Black Theatre Festival, New Jersey Repertory, Edward Albee Theatre Conference in Valdez, A.K., CAP21 and others.
Productions of his work have been seen at the Grahamstown Festival in South Africa, Victory Gardens Theatre, Congo Square, and ETA Theatre of Chicago, Studio Theatre of D.C., St. Louis Black Repertory, Horizon Theatre of Atlanta.
BareBones works are "simply staged, fully rehearsed public presentations of plays in the final stages of development," according to Lark. "A BareBones is the culmination of a comprehensive development strategy including Roundtables, Studio Retreats and an intense 80 hours of rehearsal leading up to the BareBones Presentation."
For more information about The Lark Play Development Center, visit www.larktheatre.org.