Directed by C. Michael Wright, The Syringa Tree that began previews March 8 toward a March 11 opening in Wilmington features the versatility of two actresses — one black (Erica Bradshaw), one white (Lia Aprile) — playing all 24 characters. Writer Gien herself starred in the show to international acclaim.
By embodying the fact-inspired characters — white, black, old, young, male, female — the actresses "are able to personify Gien's message that 'we are all the same, so we mustn't be frightened of other people, because really prejudice lives in fear,'" according to production notes.
It's thought that this is the first time one white actress and one black actress have performed the play together as a two-person show.
"The Syringa Tree is a vivid, personal account of a white South African family living under one roof with a black family during Apartheid and their abiding love for one another," according to DTC. "Pamela Gien's semi-autobiographical play began as an acting exercise. She was to tell the person sitting next to her a story and recounted an incident in her South African childhood that she had repressed. Eventually Gien wrote and staged her piece, playing all 24 of her characters."
The artistic team includes set and lighting designer Shannon Zura; costume designer Devon Painter; sound designer Jorge Cousineau; dialect coach Stanton Davis; and stage manager Sara Tantillo. C. Michael Wright previously directed The Syringa Tree in January 2005 at Renaissance Theatreworks in Milwaukee to such acclaim that a revival was staged four months later.
Performances continue to March 26. For more information, visit www.delawaretheatre.org.
Delaware Theatre Company, Delaware's major resident professional theatre, is located at 200 Water Street, on Wilmington's Riverfront. Delaware Theatre Company is a member of the League of Resident Theatres, Theatre Communications Group, the Arts Consortium of Delaware, the Theatre Alliance of Greater Philadelphia, the Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance, the Arts & Business Council of Greater Philadelphia, the New Castle County Chamber of Commerce, and the Wilmington Convention & Visitors Bureau.