Derek Walcott’s Ti-Jean and His Brothers

Derek Walcott’s Ti-Jean and His Brothers
presented by Underground Railway Theater and Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University

February 10 – March 13, 2011, Central Square Theater

(CAMBRIDGE) ? Underground Railway Theater and Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University celebrate the 30th Anniversary of Derek Walcott’s founding of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre and commemorate the devastating 2010 earthquake in Haiti with a co-production of Walcott’s powerful folk parable, TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS.   The production is directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian. The press performance is scheduled for Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 2 PM.

TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS is poetic and playful, lyrical and epic. A Caribbean family is in crisis.  Despite being warned of the “hidden nets of the devil” by their mother, the three brothers, one by one, must confront evil on their own terms. Walcott’s tale of creative survival finds a special urgency in this production which is inspired by the culture and history of Haiti, in particular that island’s rich musical and visual art traditions.

Written in 1957, TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS was first produced by the Arts Guild in St. Lucia, Derek Walcott’s homeland.  The play was re-envisioned by Walcott’s Trinidad Theater Workshop in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, in 1970 and was the first Walcott play to have an original score. In 1970, Walcott collaborated with Trinidadian Andre Tanker on the music and lyrics designed for a tour of the islands and, ultimately, for a 1972 performance at Joseph Papp’s New York Shakespeare Festival at the Delacourte Theatre in Central Park.  The play celebrates the triumph of native resourcefulness over imperialist power and also comments on racism and the exploitation of the poor by the wealthy. In blending a morality play and a West Indian fable, Walcott explained his use of folklore and dialectical speech in this work: “The great challenge for me was to write as powerfully as I could without writing down to the audience, so that the large emotions could be taken in by a fisherman or a guy on the street, even if he didn’t understand every line.” The play continues to be produced all over the world.

Founder and former Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Derek Walcott is a world-renowned poet and playwright and the author of numerous books of poetry, essays, and plays. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992. Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain received an Obie Award for the most distinguished foreign play. His plays have been produced by the New York Shakespeare Festival, the Mark Taper Forum, the Negro Ensemble Company, the American Repertory Theatre, Arena Stage, and the Guthrie Theatre, among others. His stage adaptation of Homer’s The Odyssey was staged to sold-out London audiences by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1993. Born in 1930 on the island of Saint Lucia in the West Indies, Walcott graduated from the University College of the West Indies. In 1957, he received a Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship to study American drama and has continued to win numerous awards for his verse and drama, including an O’Neill Foundation-Wesleyan University Fellowship for Playwrights (1969), the Guggenheim Award (1977), the American Poetry Review Award (1979), the Welsh International Writer’s Prize (1980), the Queen’s Medal for Poetry (1988), and the W.H. Smith Prize (1991). Walcott was awarded a five-year MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 1981.  Walcott founded the Trinidad Theatre Workshop in 1959 as the Little Carib Theatre Workshop. The Trinidad Theatre workshop has grown into an internationally recognized repertory company based in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. They have toured the United States, and their Boston performances include the 1995 productions at the Boston University Theatre on Huntington Avenue of Walcott’s Elliot Norton Award-winning The Joker of Seville and Dream on Monkey Mountain. In 1981, when he began teaching poetry and playwriting at Boston University, with BU’s help and a portion of his MacArthur Foundation Award, Walcott established Boston Playwrights’ Theatre. He continues to gives readings and lectures throughout the world.

TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS director, Megan Sandberg-Zakian, brings together an intergenerational cast for this special, celebratory production including veteran Boston actors, Boston University students, and emerging artists.  The design team for TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS includes Sara Ossana (scenic and puppet design), Lucas Garrity (lighting design) and Katherine O’Neill (costume design).  Kera Washington is the music director, sound designer, and will be performing in the production.  Ms. Washington is the founder and leader of the all-female New World Soul band Zili Misik, the 2008 Boston Music Award “Outstanding International Act of the Year” and Boston Phoenix and FNX’s Boston’s Best World Music Band for 2008 and 2009. Dominique D. Burford is the production stage manager.

Ramona Lisa Alexander (Mother) was last seen at Central Square Theater as Josie in The Nora Theatre Company’s production of A Moon for the Misbegotten. Last season, she appeared as Grandma in Underground Railway Theater’s Harriet Jacobs. She has also appeared in Underground Railway Theater’s National Tour of Are You Ready, My Sister? She has been seen in Massachusetts at the Huntington Theatre Company, Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater, and Berkshire Theatre Festival, among others; nationally at The Guthrie Theatre; and internationally at the Reggae Sun Splash Music Festival in Jamaica.

Cedric Lilly (Mi Jean) is a graduate of the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. He has worked in Philadelpha with the Arden, The Wilma, People’s Light & Theater Company and 1812 Productions and Company One and the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston. Past credits include Bill Rutherford in The Good Negro at Company One and Jonas in The Giver at People’s Light & Theater Company.

Carol Ann Parker (Frog) has appeared as multiple roles in The Good Times Are Killing Me at Trinity Repertory Company, Addie in The Little Foxes at The Huntington Theatre, Jessie in The Violet Hour at Stoneham Theatre, and Calpurnia in Commonwealth Shakespeare Company’s Julius Caesar. Recent feature film work includes The Company Men and The Town.

Underground Railway Theater and Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University are proud to introduce Kervin Germain as the title character.  Mr. Germain, a Haitian-American actor, a graduate of Boston Arts Academy.  Fedna Jacquet (Cricket) is also from the Haitian-American community; she has frequently appeared on the stage at Company One and will be in an upcoming reading at the Huntington.  Boston University students Kristin Calabria (Bird), Joseph Ahmed (Firefly), and Hampton Sterling Fluker (Gros Jean) make their professional stage debuts in TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS. Mr. Fluker was featured in the Academy Award-winning film The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock. Kateryne Nelson-Guerrero performs the role of Bolom. Tamyjah Thompson is the understudy for Bolom.

Megan Sandberg-Zakian (director) is a theater artist based in Providence, RI, where she is a Resident Artist at Perishable Theatre and teaches performance-making in community at Brown University. Favorite recent directing projects include Lydia Diamond’s Harriet Jacobs at URT and Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Perishable (Motif Awards: Best Production, Best Set Design). Megan has also directed and developed work at venues including the Huntington Theatre Company (Boston), Portland Stage (Maine), HERE Arts Center (NYC), The Culture Project (NYC), Middlebury Actors’ Workshop (Vermont), 37 Por Las Tablas (Santiago, DR) and The Providence Black Repertory Company (Providence). Megan has served as Associate Artistic Director of both the Providence Black Repertory Company and The 52nd Street Project. She is a graduate of Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College.

Throughout the run of TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS, there will be pre-show performances and celebrations of Haitian art and culture, all free with the price of admission.  Post-Show Conversations will feature Haitian Scholars, Artists, and Activists.  More information will be announced about these programs in the near future. For more information on TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS, the public can call (866) 811-4111 or visit www.centralsquaretheater.org.

Press inquiries should be directed to Kathy Rochefort, (617) 247-1299, kathy@rochefortassociates.com.

Date                                Time             Talk-in-the-Box Series_________________________

Sunday, February 13 Post-show Sunday Soiree Congratulate the cast at a complimentary reception.
Thursday, February17 Post-show Artists & Audiences: Join the cast in a post-performance talkback
Thursday, February 24 Post-show Central Salon: This is your theater. Join the conversation with CST leadership, with complimentary wine and cheese.
Thursday, March 3 Post-show Scholar Social: Renowned academics illuminate ideas raised by the production in dialogue with the audience.  Alisa Braithewaite, Assistant Professor of Caribbean Literature at MIT, will be the special guest.

TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS plays at Central Square Theater, 450 Mass. Ave. in Cambridge, Thursday, February 10th through Sunday, March 13th. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30 PM, Fridays and Saturdays at 8 PM, with matinees on Sundays at 2 PM.  Tickets are priced at $40, $30 for seniors (ages 60+), $25 for students (college ID), $15 for youth (12-18); tickets are purchased by calling (866) 811-4111, online at www.centralsquaretheater.org, or at the CST box office.  For box office hours, group discounts, and more info call (617) 576-9278 x210.

About Boston Playwrights’ Theatre

Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, the Home of New Plays in Boston, welcomes the chance to collaborate with Underground Railway Theater in Central Square on Ti-Jean and His Brothers by BPT founder Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott.  Ti-Jean… is a fitting opening to BPT’s 30th anniversary season of developing new works for the stage, all the while honoring Derek Walcott’s vision and tenacity.  Under Walcott’s and then Artistic Director Kate Snodgrass’s stewardship, BPT playwrights have won 5 Elliot Norton Awards and 11 Independent Reviewer of New England (“IRNE”) Awards for Best New Script; its playwrights have won countless awards, commissions, and productions all over the English-speaking world.  BPT itself has been recognized for its “Outstanding Achievement in the American Theatre” by the New England Theatre Conference and with numerous “Ten Best” year-end citations, including Special Citations from the Dramatist Guild of America and from the Boston Theatre Critics Association for “enlivening local theatre through the annual showcase of short plays in the Boston Theater Marathon” (now in its 13th year).  In the spring of each year, along with the Boston Theater Marathon, BPT produces its Ground Floor Reading Series and the Massachusetts Young Playwrights’ Project (“New Noises”), encouraging high school students in the writing of short plays.

About Underground Railway Theater

The mission of Underground Railway Theater (URT) is to connect professional theater with commu­nities, combining actors, puppetry and music to engage diverse audiences with per­formances of beauty and social content – theater that challenges and delights, informs and celebrates.  URT was founded in Oberlin, Ohio, one of the Midwestern stops on the Underground Railroad, and toured nationally for 30 years before becoming a resident company at the Central Square Theater.  URT has received an IRNE award (Alice’s Adventures Underground) and a several citations from regional publications including The Boston Globe.

About Central Square Theater

At Central Square Theater, a new state-of-the-art community-based theatrical arts facility, audiences find, under one roof, the distinctive repertoires of two award-winning non-profit professional companies, The Nora Theatre Company and Underground Railway Theater, as well as collaborative projects drawing on their creative synergy. Schools, families and community groups benefit from outreach and educational programs, and local businesses enjoy increased foot traffic and new customers. As the first permanent home for these two theater companies, Central Square Theater is a vibrant hub of theatrical, educational and social activity, where artists and audiences come together to create theater vital to our communities.  The seeds of the Central Square Theater (CST) were sown in 1997, with a partnership between The Nora Theatre Company, Underground Railway Theater, and the Community Development Department of the City of Cambridge, which brokered a relationship with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). MIT constructed the building and provided an extraordinary 20-year lease commitment at under $5 per square foot — a contribution valued at more than $2 million over time.

For more information, please call 617-576-9278 or go to www.centralsquaretheater.org.

UNDERGROUND RAILWAY THEATER AND PLAYWRIGHTS’ THEATRE AT BOSTON UNIVERSITY
AT CENTRAL SQUARE THEATER – Calendar Listing Information

TI-JEAN AND HIS BROTHERS
by Derek Walcott

A Caribbean family is in crisis: three brothers are pulled into a dangerous game with the Devil in this fanciful, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of battling despair through fierce humor and love. Ti-Jean & His Brothers celebrates resourcefulness over oppression, and of overcoming injustice through ingenuity and faith.

Presented to commemorate of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and, celebrate of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre’s 30th anniversary, and of its founder, Caribbean playwright Derek Walcott.
Presented by:                          Underground Railway Theater and Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University

in residence at Central Square Theater;

Debra Wise, Artistic Director, Underground Railway Theater

Kate Snodgrass, Artistic Director, Playwrights’ Theatre at Boston University

Cast:                                        Ramona Lisa Alexander, Cedric Lilly, Carol Ann Parker, Kervin Germain, Kristin Calabria, Joseph Ahmed, Hampton Sterling Fluker, Fedna Jacquet, Kera Washington, Kateryne Nelson-Guerrero, and Tamyjah Thompson

Director:                                  Megan Sandberg-Zakian

Production Stage Manager:    Dominique Burford

Design Team:                         Sara Ossana (Scenic and Puppet Design)

Katherine O’Neill (Costume Design)

Lucas Garrity (Lighting Design)

Kera Washington (Music Director/Sound Design)

Performing at:                         Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139

Press Performance:               Sunday, February 13, 2011 at 2PM

Performance Schedule:         February 13- March 13, 2011

Wed., Thurs. at 7:30PM; Fri at 8PM; Sat. at 8PM; Sun at 2PM

Run Time:       2 hours

Ticket Prices:                          $40, adult; $30, senior; $25, student

Student Rush:                         $20 with valid college ID, day-of-show, subject to availability

Box Office: (866) 811-4111, CentralSquareTheater.org