But producing quality journalism isn't cheap. If you enjoyed this story, or have enjoyed reading any of our stories in the last 40 years, please consider clicking the "Support Us" button right here. Gloria is desperate for the lead. Lottie Donette Coleman packs on the pounds to be cast in maternal roles. Leroy Tosin Morohunfola , a composer who courts Vera, is less than thrilled with the role she covets.
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There were so many reasons to select this play beginning with our ongoing relationship with writer Lynn Nottage, the Pulitzer prize winning playwright of Ruined.
In addition, Jo Bonney is a director with whom we have worked numerous times so for us, this was a dream artistic team. Further, and most importantly, Vera Stark is a play that addresses the invisibility of African American actors in film. As we live at the epicenter of the film world, we thought what better place to produce this play than in the town that cast and then marginalized African American artists.
Her plays are complex, funny and can cut to the bone, and at the Geffen, these are attributes we look for in all of our plays. The following is a play summary excerpted from a New York Times review of the Second Stage premiere production.
And when an opportunity comes along for Gloria to play a Camille-like creature in antebellum New Orleans, Vera sets her cap for the role of the loyal maid. But it acquires particular resonance in Depression-era Hollywood, where the rules of make-believe are strict and confining. Everyone, it seems, is playing a fabricated part, often of several layers.
Carroll African-American horn-blower, works for Von Oster. He is in late thirties or early forties, confident, charismatic and funny. Its tradition derived directly from minstrel shows, which were cabaret-like pre-cursors to the American musical.
One of the most successful commercial films of , also submerged in technological innovation, was King Kong. The following is excerpted from the site: www. General Principles of the hays code 1. No picture shall be produced that will lower the moral standards of those who see it. Hence the sympathy of the audience should never be thrown to the side of crime, wrongdoing, evil or sin. Correct standards of life, subject only to the requirements of drama and entertainment, shall be presented.
Law, natural or human, shall not be ridiculed, nor shall sympathy be created for its violation. Cooper and Ernest B. Schoedsack, and produced by David O. Motion picture producers recognize the high trust and confidence which have been placed in them by the people of the world and which have made motion pictures a universal form of entertainment.
They recognize their responsibility to the public because of this trust and because entertainment and art are important influences in the life of a nation.
It is interesting to note David O. Selznick, producer of King Kong, also produced the epic Gone with the Wind, based on the Margaret Mitchell novel of the same name.
Gone with the Wind is a good example of a Hays Code film especially where race relations were concerned. Selznick was one of the most prolific. Other prominent producers inluded Darryl Zanuck and Adolph Zukor, and these men have been identified by Ms. Nottage as inspirations for the character of Slasvic in the play. During the rapid transition from silent to talking pictures they have realized the necessity and the opportunity of subscribing to a Code to govern the production of talking pictures and of re-acknowledging this responsibility.
On their part, they ask from the public and from public leaders a sympathetic understanding of their purposes and problems and a spirit of cooperation that will allow them the freedom and opportunity necessary to bring the motion picture to a still higher level of wholesome entertainment for all the people.
Nottage has accredited actress Theresa Harris and her role in the film Baby Face opposite Barbara Stanwyck as a major inspiration.
Harris from entitled The Flame of New Orleans. Nottage that addresses this interest in great detail. Here is an excerpt from that article:. Nottage seems less interested in rescuing the African-American actresses who were her inspirations than in arguing for the complexity of their images.
She sees films like Baby Face and movies made before the [Hays] code was enforced as presenting a more realistic vision of race in America than many later films simply because they show blacks and whites existing alongside one another.
Peola is desperate to shed any trace of her blackness and be perceived of simply as white. She leaves her mother to pursue this other life, and the consequences are dire. Lottie, one of the characters in Stark, has this to say: Lottie.
Fredi Washington was an African-American actress often mistaken as caucasion on the account of her fair skin, green eyes and flowing hair. In , she played Peola, a mulatto maid who denies her black mother to cross the color line. In reality, Washington refused to deny her heritage, advocating for blacks in entertainment.
You may not believe this, but I had a pretty slender figure when I first came out here. Yes, indeed. Had to fight off the fellas. But you gotta be high yella mellow or look like you crawled outta Mississippi cotton patch to get work in this rotten town. So here I am, Or should I say here is. Her statement is commenting on the fact that in this period in Hollywood, what little work there was went to black actors who were either extremely light-skinned, or extremely dark.
In an already limited field, this inescapable reality shut even more doors. Is censorship necessarily good or bad? Please explain. How does she use the forum of her play to upend some of the very struggles she highlights? Leroy is a musician who grows fond of Vera in the play. Band leaders such as Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson popularized swing in performances at urban nightclubs and large dance halls which, in the South at least, were segregated.
The musicians themselves, however, were both white and black, with black band leaders such as Ellington and Count Basie enjoying at least as much success as white band leaders like Benny Goodman. Indeed, Louis Armstrong, the most celebrated and recognized Swing musician of that era, was African American. Sourced from Anne K. Leroy hums, whistles, sings and beats out Dixie, slowly de-constructing it the song transforming it into something entirely fresh, new and playful. Vera smiles.
Leroy And I can end right there. If you wanna be in pictures, where you gonna begin, and where are you gonna end? Leroy brings up an interesting point. In the second place, some of the first arenas in the country to de-segregate during the time the HPC was in effect were music clubs and dance halls.
Schuringa has been with Geffen Playhouse for 10 years. She was kind enough to take the time to answer some questions about the casting process and some unique aspects of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark:.
How would you describe what you do? PS: I introduce actors to directors, sometimes through auditions, sometimes through discussion. The director and I create a strategy for putting together the best possible cast. Arney in all aspects of the Artistic office. I am grateful for that. I also try to see as many plays in Los Angeles and beyond as I can. This is the West Coast premiere.
Are any of the original cast members coming with the production? How are the actors who will move with the show selected? PS: We invited all of the original actors to be part of this production. Sanaa Lathan and Kimberly Hebert Gregory accepted our offer.
The others found themselves committed to other projects at this time. How often is a portion of your cast predetermined? PS: Only when we ask a director to reprise a piece that they recently worked on, or when we are putting together a co-production with another theater. Once in a while a director and a cast member or two come to the project as a package.
This could happen maybe once or twice a year. PS: Everyone else in the cast auditioned for their parts. The casting process starts with the careful definition of what we are looking for. The director is usually the one to put these requirements into words. We talk about what is important in terms of telling the story of the play. I try to push the envelope, to get a director to think of the character in a different way.
Then we talk about actors we would love to see in the parts. She gives specific direction that is exciting to actors, everyone gets better. Can you explain what an audition is, and talk a bit about what that process was like for Vera? Who is in the room with you? PS: An audition is a chance for the actor to show us how they would do the part. The actor will get the play about a week before the audition and one or two scenes to prepare.
We were looking for actors who are good at comedy, and who understood the world of the play. I tend to gather the best actors I can think of and trust that they can do almost anything. Lynn and Jo had very specific ideas about this cast since they had just done a production, so for this one, it was very clear who was successful and who was not. For Vera, race and skin color are important thematic elements.
How do you finesse the process of openly hiring or not hiring people according to their skin color? PS: For this play skin tone was very important.
Theater Review: “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark” — Take Two
The play concerns an African-American maid in the s who becomes a film star. Sets were by Neil Patel and costumes by ESosa. According to Second Stage, "Lynn Nottage draws upon the screwball films of the s to take a funny and irreverent look at racial stereotypes in Hollywood. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark is a year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African-American maid and budding actress, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a white Hollywood star The title character of Vera Stark is based in part on black actress Theresa Harris. Ben Brantley, reviewing the Off-Broadway production for The New York Times , wrote: "There are moments throughout Vera Stark, directed by Jo Bonney, that provoke hearty laughter and troubling thoughts at the same time. But none of them come close to matching the fully inhabited, spiky ambivalence of Ms.
By the Way, Meet Vera Stark
The aim of this analysis is to expose the issue about affirming position of women in patriarchy system which is done by patriarchal in order to subordinates the women. This analysis is done through text and contex based interpretation which is related to the concept of patriarchy by Kamla Bhasin and beauty by Naomi Wolf. The result of this analysis shows how patriarchy system strengthens the position of women as subordinate and less important person in patriarchal society that can be seen from limitation of career and its development as well as physical appearance. Bokesh, Laura. Literary Elements.
By The Way, Meet Vera Stark Study Guide - Goodman Theatre ...
Lynn Nottage remains the only woman to have won the Pulitzer for Drama twice, first in for Ruined and again in for Sweat. The play is a satire, a eulogy, and, in some ways, an homage. The comedy pivots sharply at intermission, and what was in the first act a shrewd, bubbly send-up of s screwball comedies jumps ahead 70 years. Vera Stark Dukes — whom we meet in Act One as a young would-be actress, bursting with life and ambition and working as a maid for an anxious aging starlet called Gloria Mitchell Jenni Barber — is now a memory, a talking point for cultural critics and academics in the year Did she die of an overdose in a seedy Vegas hotel in ? Did she end up a bag lady in Santa Monica? Nottage repeatedly calls for an attention to heightened performance style in her script.