-Courtesy of Perpetual Motion PR
EgoPo Classic Theater in Philadelphia returns to the indoor stage with its production of Alice Childress’s groundbreaking play, Wine in the Wilderness, as part of their 2021-2022 Season of Awakenings and Transformations. The production will run from January 19th to 30th, with an official opening on Friday, January 21st, at the Bluver Theatre at the Drake.
Renowned playwright Alice Childress’s 1969 classic examines issues of race, class and gender in this incredible intimate look into how the black community defines and affirms itself at a moment of seismic change. Set amidst the 1964 race riots, Bill, a Harlem painter, struggles to complete the final painting of his triptych on Black Womanhood. He is introduced to Tommy, a force of nature whose home has been burnt down in the riots, and she becomes his inspiration. As artist and muse collide, they discover each other – and themselves – anew.
The production is directed by Damien J. Wallace, who recently directed Beckett’s Rockaby and co-created and starred in Underground, both for EgoPo. Wallace is a prolific artist with credits as both director and performer, including being the Artistic Director for Lawrence Theatre, for whom he recently directed Life Isn’t Fair at the Met Philadelphia. With Wine, Wallace aims to explore the direct correlation of Childress’s world to the one in which we live today:
“One could easily see how the oppressed today have and continue to be devalued and marginalized, particularly when dramatized in the historical backdrop of the ‘64 race riots. It’s our responsibility to tell stories that will assist in making that message permeate throughout society as we continue to reinforce that Black Lives Matter. My hope is that my vision of creating a living portrait onstage not only engages the audience aesthetically but emotionally. We’re also celebrating African American women playwrights and Childress’s Wine in the Wilderness helps us to understand the dynamic that exists between the sexes and how their divide is often influenced by damaging external factors that are both archaic and destructive,” says Wallace.
The play’s design and concept continues EgoPo’s notable style of enveloping audiences in the scenic worlds of the plays they produce. Wine in the Wilderness will invite audiences into an installation-like set, as if they were walking into the beautiful chaos of a 1960s Harlem artist’s studio loft-in-progress, surrounded with vibrant multicultural artwork.
“The experience of Wine will feel much like walking into the New Orleans lair in our 2019 production of Tennessee Williams’ And Tell Sad Stories of the Deaths of Queens. We are physically entering someone else’s personal and psychic life. Right now, I want theater to really envelop the audience, to take them on a physical journey to a new place so that they can stand in another’s shoes for a while. Damien is a fantastic storyteller and he’s going to really immerse us in this world” says Lane Savadove.
Wallace is joined by Marie Laster (Set Design), Tiffany Bacon (Costume Design), Tim Martin (Lighting Design), Chris Sannino (Sound Design), Avista Custom Theatricals (Properties), Kirstie Floyd (Dramaturgy), and Liandra Marcano (Stage Management) on the creative team.
Making their EgoPo debuts, the cast consists of Andre G. Brown (Plays & Players, Garry Marshall Theatre), Ontaria Kim Wilson (Lawrence Theatre, First World Theatre Ensemble), Brennen S. Malone (Wilma Theater, Theatre in the X), Cynda Purnell (Temple University), and Monroe Barrick (Philadelphia Artists Collective, Hedgerow Theatre).
Wine in the Wilderness performances begin on January 19th and run through January 30th at The Louis Bluver Theatre at The Drake, 302 S. Hicks St in Philadelphia. Tickets for all performances are now available and can be purchased online or by calling 267-273-1414. Tickets: $32-39. Ticketing fees apply to all orders. Student and Industry discounts are available for performances. ACCESS cards are accepted.
Wine in the Wilderness is also available as part of EgoPo’s 2022 Subscription Package, including all shows for the remainder of the season at a discount. $80 Subscriptions for our mainstage three-show season are now on sale. To purchase, go online at www.egopo.org or call 267-273-1414.
For more information, please visit www.egopo.org/wine-in-the-wilderness.
All performances require proof of vaccination to attend.