Preparing 20 Years to Direct One Play
Find a published copy of Lynn Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy and flip to the credits page just inside the cover. There you will find the information about the very first production of the play. You’ll also find a familiar name, Delicia Turner, MOXIE’s own Artistic Director before she married and added the Sonnenberg. MOXIE’s production of Crumbs from the Table of Joy begins January 24 at MOXIE. During a holiday rehearsal break, we caught up with her to ask about her history with the play and her experience coming back to it.
CRUMBS isn’t a new play for you. Tell us about your history with the play.
I was the production stage manager for the Off Broadway World Premiere at Second Stage Theatre in New York for the 1994-95 Season
You aren’t new to directing Nottage’s work. You also directed Intimate Apparel at the San Diego REP. Can you tell us about that experience?
It was incredible working on that play – Beautiful characters and gorgeous language. I was blessed with a wonderful cast, design team and technical crew. It was the first play I directed solo for the REP and I felt honored that they trusted me with such an ambitious play on the Big Stage. It was an amazing experience all around.
It’s almost the 20th anniversary of the play. What inspired you to direct CRUMBS at MOXIE this season?
I was looking for a classic. Although this play was written by a contemporary playwright, I was struck by the similarities to A Raisin in the Sun. Both are written by kickass women, both are set in the 1950s and both take their titles from Langston Hughes poems. Also, I learned it has been added to some “required reading” lists for colleges. So, it’s not a classic, but it feels like one.
What inspires you about the play?
I love how Lynn (the playwright) blends history, fantasy, reality and theatricality in a coming of age story about a tumultuous time in a young girl’s life, at a tumultuous time in American history.
You’ve developed a reputation for directing successful productions by many other award-winning African-American playwrights (Lynn Nottage’s Intimate Apparel, August Wilson’s Fences & The Piano Lesson, Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun and Suzan-Lori Parks’ Topdog/Underdog) not to mention all the other award-winning work you’ve done. Each of those plays portrays a unique aspect of the African-American experience in America. Can you talk about what makes CRUMBS different from those other productions?
The older I get and the more I work, the more I understand August Wilson’s controversial statements about Black Artists/Black Theatre. When I work on plays by Black writers it feels like coming home. I am grateful those productions have been successful for me, because it’s the work where I get to share my most authentic self more fully with an audience. On one hand it’s familiar territory and on the other hand it’s incredibly vulnerable, because it’s like a glimpse into all that I am. So to answer the question, Crumbs is not different for me, it’s another opportunity to come home and share myself.
Has working on this play expanded your own sense of history? How?
One of the things I love about Lynn’s work is her sense of history and how she incorporates it as a part of the storytelling. I had to brush up on a lot of music and entertainment history as well as family history. I love talking to my parents about their specific memories. In this case I would have talked to my grandma, but I lost her. My parents were born in 1950 &51. So I ask them things like; “What music did your parents MAKE you listen to growing up? How did you wear your hair when you were little, before you grew the afro?” It’s a great way for us to connect.
Thanks for talking with us. Is there anything you want to share with our audience before they see the show?
Sure. Crumbs from the Table of Joy is a play about a lot of things but at its center is family. I highly recommend coming to see the show with children 12 and over. I think it will inspire some really rich conversations about history and family once you’ve left the theatre.
Crumbs from the Table of Joy is playing Jan 24-Mar 2, 2014 at MOXIE Theatre. Thursdays-Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. Tickets are $20-$40 and available online or over the phone. Call 858-598-7620 or CLICK HERE to buy tickets online now.