ICYMI: All the preview press for MAMA, opening tomorrow!

Below are links to the preview press coverage of Carleton Bluford’s MAMA, running February 12-22 at Plan-B. MAMA is the first play in partnership with The David Ross Fetzer Foundation for Emerging Artists and the first world premiere in Utah history by an African-American playwright. ByKennethJones Catalyst Magazine Gavin’s Underground Salt Lake Magazine Standard-Examiner The Salt Lake Tribune The Utah Review UtahTheatreBloggers   Carleton Bluford’s MAMA receives its world premiere February 12-22 at Plan-B, featuring Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, William Cooper Howell, Latoya Rhodes and Elizabeth Summerhays, directed by Jerry Rapier. Click here for tickets, press and more...

Elizabeth Summerhays reflects on her own Mama as we prepare to open MAMA

Elizabeth Summerhays makes her Plan-B debut in MAMA running February 12-22, 2015. Attempting to capture my own mother’s influence in my life is like trying to articulate the influence my limbs have had on me – it’s hard to isolate or pinpoint the ways she has shaped who I am. My mother had eight children; I am number seven. In addition to raising her children, to help my dad make ends meet my mom also taught piano, ran a day care, and formed a singing group for neighborhood kids. In stark contrast to my dad and her children, my mother is a quiet, shy, unassuming, enigmatic woman, and a bit of a loner. When I look back at how my mother raised me independent of my siblings, I realize why I became such a free spirit. I used to think that her hands-off approach as I grew up was because she was tired by the time my younger sister and I came along. However, as an adult I can see that there was a method to her parenting that suited my own unique personality and shaped the way I approach this world. When I ask her why she let me wear the same weird outfit to school four days in a row, or why she didn’t say anything to me when my teacher called her in because I would read books in class instead of doing the assignment, she tells me it was because she “didn’t want to stifle my creativity.” Though I scold my mom for this and joke about how I would have liked a little more...

Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin reflects on her own Mama at the end of the second week of MAMA rehearsal

Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin has previously appeared in Plan-B’s THE THIRD CROSSING, NOTHING PERSONAL and SLAM. She plays all the Mamas in MAMA running February 12-22, 2015. When Carleton Bluford’s call for stories about mothers first came across my Facebook feed, I thought about submitting, but then I couldn’t drill down to to one watershed moment of maternal relations on one post. Also life got in the way and I forgot. I am glad that I get a ‘ do over” in this regard. Not only did I get to participate in the first reading of this production but I get to play all the Mamas and, in so doing, I pay homage to my Mama. My Mama is tough as nails yet has the most generous soul. She was the oldest of 8 siblings and became a mother herself at a very young age. Yet somehow she managed to not only help take care of her siblings as well as my brother and me but, growing up, I remember always having people crash at our house for extended periods of time when they were down on their luck. My Mama did not take any crap from anyone. I recall the time we moved into a new neighborhood that three young girls who I had never met came to my house. When I answered the door they started yelling and cursing about how they wanted to kick my butt. I closed the door and went back inside to watch TV with my mother and brother. My mother heard all of the shenanigans and told me that I better go outside and...

William Cooper Howell reflects and his own Mama at the end of the first week of MAMA rehearsal

William Cooper Howell has previously appeared in SLAM 2013 and worked as a directing intern on the 2012 revival of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH. He is a senior in the Musical Theatre Program at the University of Utah. At the end of the first week of rehearsal for MAMA, he reflects on his own mother. I think it’s impossible to rehearse a play about mothers and not reflect on her each rehearsal. My mother . . . describing her is . . . how am I supposed to write a short blog post about this woman who shaped my entire life? What would it even mean to you as a reader? Nothing really, because—in most cases—your mother is far more important than mine. And that’s what makes mothers so special…so influential and powerful. It’s as if we’re all houses waiting to be built, and these women are an agency of architects ready to design their perfect home. And no one wants a shitty architect, right? Well, my mom was a fucking genius architect. You can agree or disagree—I don’t really care. What I do care about is Lori Howell. She’s the woman who made me the man that I am today, and I’m about to tell you why. When I was a kid, I had terrible ADHD. Everything was hard to do. I couldn’t concentrate on anything long enough to be good at anything. I felt left out everywhere. School was the worst. I had a “resource” class every day (which was social suicide, btw) and—because of my non-stop doodling, writing, and looking out the window—I had to sit next to...

THE EDWARD LEWIS BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL

Jerry Rapier, Producing Director, Plan-B Theatre Sunday, January 24, 2010 Five theatre companies. Four free readings. Three full productions. When I realized that Grand Theatre was producing HAVING OUR SAY: THE DELANEY SISTERS FIRST HUNDRED YEARS; we at Plan-B were producing WALLACE; and Pygmalion Theatre Company was producing LADY DAY AT EMERSON’S BAR & GRILL – all in the same season, within the first few months of 2010 – I kept thinking there has to be a way for us to connect. So I arranged a meeting of the three companies. And then I found out that Utah Contemporary Theatre was doing a reading of NEGLECT so I invited them to join us as well. That meeting was fantastic. We had a great discussion about the appropriateness of non-black producers staging works about black characters. About the serendipity of having scheduled our work so close together. About how none of us had been drawn to ‘black plays’ – we’d each been attracted to stories that just happened to be centered around the black experience in America. I met with Richard Scharine and he was debating the future of People Productions since Edward Lewis, with whom he co-founded the company, had passed away. I suggested that we add a series of free readings presented by People Productions to the mix. Richard got excited, immediately planned three readings (MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, presented by Grand Theatre; THE TALENTED TENTH, presented by Plan-B Theatre; and WEDDING BAND, presented by Pygmalion Theatre Company). In a matter of days we have ourselves a festival. Richard Scott, Fran Pruyn, Kurt Proctor and I were emailing...

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