A drama by Dael Orlandersmith; Directed by Jennifer Kay Jeter
One man and one woman play multiple characters in this drama that explores the complicated dimensions of racial distinction. From black to white and to all shades inbetween, this thought-provoking play examines internalized racism and prejudice, and it probes the negative associations surrounding male blackness as well as the effect these racial stereotypes have on black women.
Due to adult language and subject matter, the play is recommended for audiences ages 13 and older.
Yellowman is a multi-character “memory play” about an African-American woman who dreams of life beyond the confines of her small-town Southern upbringing and the light-skinned man whose fate is tragically intertwined with hers.
In his 2002 review of the original off-Broadway production, Ben Brantley of The New York Times described the basic story line of Yellowman: “In its baldest terms, its plot suggests a brutal variation on Romeo and Juliet, recast according to the arcane sociology of Gullah society in the South: light-skinned boy and dark-skinned girl fall in love and are torn asunder by their squabbling families.
“But the divisions in Yellowman, presented as a narrative counterpoint delivered by [the play’s two actors] are as much within families as between them, and even more so within the individuals who make up families. The play's central characters and storytellers, Eugene and Alma, are determined not to turn into their parents. The odds, needless to say, are ominously against them.”
Yellowman was first commissioned and developed by three regional theater companies – McCarter Theatre Center (in Princeton, New Jersey), Wilma Theater (in Philadelphia) and Long Wharf Theatre (in New Haven, Connecticut) – and it was developed in part with the support of the The Sundance Institute Theatre Program (of Park City, Utah). This three-way co-production of the play opened on Jan. 10, 2002 at McCarter Theatre Center. Thereafter, Manhattan Theatre Club produced the first New York production of the play; it opened on Oct. 22, 2002 at New York City Center’s Stage I, where it played for a limited two-month engagement. Playwright Dael Orlandersmith played the role of Alma in both of these first two productions of her play. Yellowman received three 2003 Drama Desk Award nominations, two 2003 Outer Critics Circle Award nominations and was a finalist for the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama (which that year was awarded to another African-American female playwright, Suzan Lori-Parks, for Topdog/Underdog).
MARC JACKSON (Eugene) is thrilled and honored to be in Yellowman after making his Weathervane debut in Ragtime (2008). A Cleveland native, Marc holds a bachelor of arts degree in theater from The University of Akron. Marc has been involved in numerous productions at the university and in the community. His favorite roles include Ross in Macbeth, Selsdon in Noises Off!, the Lawyer in A Dream Play, Gang Member in Ragtime and, more recently, Jesus in Godspell at Our Redeemer Lutheren Church in Solon (2010). Marc is also involved in many scenes, plays and short films for his church, SPAN Ministries in Tallmadge. He says that he is thankful to God, family, and friends for their ongoing love and support. "Please enjoy the show!"
NICHOLE STRONG (Alma) is making her Weathervane stage debut in this production. Nichole is very excited to be working with Jennifer Kay Jeter on this thought-provoking show. It is an honor to work with a director whom he both respects and considers a dear friend. A junior at The University of Akron, Nichole spent this past summer working with Terry Burgler and the illustrious company of Ohio Shakespeare Festival — a fitting training ground to prepare for this role. Some of Nick's previous shows include King Richard III (OSF 2011), Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens (First Grace UCC 2010), You Can't Take It with You (Coach House Theatre 2009) and Ragtime (WCP 2008). What actress would be complete without a fan club?! She thanks her mother and stepfather, Tamela and Sharaf Al Mulaiki, grandmother Patricia Strong, father Kenneth Eugene Strong, Cristann Frazier, aunts Lillian Mitchell and Lucille Humphrey, Chet Williams, great grandmother Gertrude Brewer, and a host of other family, friends and fellow thespians. "On with the show!" Nichole's performance is dedicated to Dr. Samuel E. Strong, Jr. "I love you, Doc."
THE CREATIVE TEAM
JENNIFER KAY JETER (Director and Sound Designer) — Trained as a performance artist, Jeter will often collaborate with traditional artists or with non-traditional partners including social-service organizations to create curriculum, programming and theatrical works in order to spotlight societal concerns such as homelessness, addiction and sexual abuse. This Ohio native is an advocate of the arts. Jeter works in educational, community and professional theatre. Her thesis, entitled "The Rites of Being: An Analytical Review of Performance Art," was an attempt to legitimize the abstract art form of performance art. As a social artist, she continues to develop art constructions that address the changing needs of the community. Jeter creates commentary through her photography, writing, directing, painting and/or a combination of select media. Jeter previously directed Fifteen-Minute Hamlet for Weathervane's First Night contribution several years ago. Yellowman marks her first full-length production for Weathervane in the Dietz Theater. Concentrating primarily on African-American theatre, Jeter's past directing credits include Black Girl, The Amen Corner, For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf, On Striver's Row, Crowns and The Piano Lesson.
DANIELLE M. TERLONGE (Stage Manager) is pleased to return to Weathervane after several years' absence. She has been a part of stage management, sound, lighting, and properties teams at the theater in the past. Danielle is a recent graduate of The University of Akron with a degree in Early Childhood Education. She thanks her husband for always supporting her crazy schedule.
TODD DIERINGER (Properties Designer) is thrilled to be designing props for Yellowman. You may recall his work as the props designer for Pippin last season and as the co-designer of props for The Wedding Singer. Todd was our scenic designer for The Sisters Rosensweig, Children of a Lesser God, Man of La Mancha and Three Tall Women. He helps build scenery for many of our productions and serves as the Properties Department Chair on our Production Board. He shares his passion for theater with his father, Roger, who also volunteers in the scene shop. Todd is the systems administrator in the admissions office at The University of Akron. Todd says, "Theatre is a communal art and I'm proud to be part of the Weathervane community — my second family."
RYAN DURFEE (Lighting Designer) is a graduate of Kent State University with a degree in theater. He works for a local production company, where he is a production manager for various concerts and events. Some of his previous lighting designs at Weathervane Playhouse include Romeo and Juliet, The Emperor's New Clothes, Our Town and A Doll's House, and co-designs for As Bees in Honey Drown and Crowns.
JASEN J. SMITH (Costume Designer) joined the Weathervane professional staff in August 2008 as its Resident Costume Designer and Costume Shop Manager. Since then, he has designed costumes for the Playhouse's productions of Children of Eden, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, Bloody Murder, Intimate Apparel and Pride and Prejudice among others. His co-costuming credits include Putting It Together (with Adam Thatcher) and Man of La Mancha (with Hedy Jones), the latter of which earned him and his collaborator the Chanticleer Award for best costume design. Jasen also won the 2009 Marquee Award for Best Costume Design from the Youngstown Area Community Theatre Association for his work on Children of Eden. His other regional costume-design credits include Porthouse Theatre, Case Western Reserve University and the Ohio Light Opera (Pirates of Penzance, The Mikado, Robin Hood and The Merry Widow).
ALAN SCOTT FERRALL (Scenic Designer and Technical Director) began his association with Weathervane as a backstage volunteer under the tutelage of the late John R. Thomas. This is Scott's 15th season as a Weathervane staff member, serving as the Resident Technical Director and Scenic Designer. Previously, he worked at Cuyahoga Falls High School. He has designed sets for many local high schools as well as for the Players Guild of Canton, Cleveland Signstage Theatre and Western Reserve Public Media. Scott has earned several Chanticleer Awards one as stage manager for Fences, lighting designs for The Laramie Project and A Lesson Before Dying; co-lighting designs for A Man for All Seasons, The Full Monty and Man of La Mancha and, most recently, for Best echnical Element/Young Actor Series for his lighting design for the 2010 production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.