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360° SERIES V I E W F I N D E R : FA C T S A N D P E R S P E C T I V E S O N T H E P L AY, P L AY W R I G H T, A N D P R O D U C T I O N

W W W . T FA N A . O R G

TA B L E O F CO N T E N T S The Play 4



The Bloodstained Distance, by Alisa Solomon


Unraveling the Landscape: Adrienne Kennedy in Conversation with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins

The Playwright 20

Biography: Adrienne Kennedy


Adrienne Kennedy's Silent Theatrical Revolution: An Interview by Christopher Niquet

The Production 27

Contradictions in Black and White: Evan Yionoulis in Conversation with Jonathan Kalb


Creative Team

About Theatre For a New Audience 36

Mission and Programs


Major Supporters

Notes Front Cover: Photograph by Jack Robinson, graphic design by Milton Glaser, Inc. This Viewfinder will be periodically updated with additional information. Last updated January 26, 2018

Credits "Perspectives" curated by Jonathan Kalb. "Adrienne Kennedy's Silent Theatrical Revolution" was originally published in Lula Magazine, Issue #24, 2017. Re-published with permission of the author. He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box 360° | Edited by Torrey Townsend | Copy-edit and Layout by Peter James Cook | Special Assistance from Sarah Branch Literary Advisor: Jonathan Kalb | Council of Scholars Chair: Ayanna Thompson | Designed by: Milton Glaser, Inc. | Special Thanks to Susanna Gellert Copyright 2018 by Theatre for a New Audience. All rights reserved. With the exception of classroom use by teachers and individual personal use, no part of this Viewfinder may be reproduced in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or recording, or by an information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publishers. Some materials published herein are written especially for our guide. Others are reprinted by permission of their authors or publishers.


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Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 3

PERSPECTIVES Perspectives on the play from the author and others. FORGET (2016, excerpt) Adrienne Kennedy Harvard Review 49, 2016 I met my white grandfather a few times. of course he lived on the white side of town. he sent his chauffeur who was black and his name was Austin in a black car to

I was lucky enough to spend a day and evening in his and his family’s house. built about 1860 where he was born…his father was the town’s first bank owner.

my grandmother’s house to get us. my mother wanted my brother, herself, and me to walk but he insisted.

the house, white, wooden in weeping willow trees down a long archway.

we went to his house. his white wife wanted us to go in the back door, but he insisted we come into the front. full of contradictions, he sent my mother and her half-sister to college, bought them beautiful things but still maintained the distance. they called him by his surname and he never shared a meal with them. we sat in his parlor twice. he was slightly fascinated by my brother and me. he said something like you all have northern accents. he was interested in our schooling in Cleveland. he was interested in the fact that people said I was smart. at that time the thirties and before the WAR he owned a lot of the town and had three children by black women. my mother’s mother was fifteen, worked in the peach orchards. like the South itself, he was an unfathomable. mixture of complexities, these are two generations of white men removed who went all the way to Africa to get SLAVES, quite mad.


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by 1940, when I visited, the house had one usable room, the rest all boarded up and was lived in by black COUSINS of his Negro family. despite her Atlanta Univ education and marrying a Morehouse man and making a nice life in Cleveland, my mother found it impossible to say her mother’s name. and impossible to call her father by anything but his surname. she used to say to me when I was a child, Adrienne, when I went to town to get the mail, they would always say here comes that little yellow bastard.

PERSPECTIVES BOOKER T. AND W.E.B. (1969) Dudley Randall Midwest Journal, Winter 1952-53 "It seems to me," said Booker T., "It shows a mighty lot of cheek To study chemistry and Greek When Mister Charlie needs a hand To hoe the cotton on his land, And when Miss Ann looks for a cook, Why stick our nose inside a book?" "I don't agree," said W. E. B. "If I should have the drive to seek Knowledge of chemistry or Greek, I'll do it. Charles and Miss can look Another place for hand or cook. Some men rejoice in skill of hand, And some in cultivating land, But there are others who maintain The right to cultivate the brain." "It seems to me," said Booker T., "That all you folks have missed the boat Who shout about the right to vote, And spend vain days and sleepless nights In uproar over civil rights. Just keep your mouths shut, do not grouse, But work, and save, and buy a house."

Booker T. Washington (1905). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by Harris & Ewing, reproduction # LC-DIG-hec-16114.

"I don't agree," said W. E. B., "For what can property avail If dignity and justice fail? Unless you help to make the laws, They'll steal your house with trumped-up clause, A rope's as tight, a fire as hot, No matter how much cash you've got. Speak soft, and try your little plan, But as for me, I'll be a man." "It seems to me," said Booker T. — "I don't agree," Said W. E. B.

W.E.B. Du Bois (1911). Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, photograph by C.M. Battey, reproduction # LC-DIG-ppmsca-38818.

H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 5

PERSPECTIVES JIM CROW (1956) From MONTGOMERY, ALABAMA MONEY, MISSISSIPPI AND OTHER PLACES by Eve Merriam. Copyright © 1956 Eve Merriam. © Renewed 1984. All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of Marian Reiner. ("Few have any idea of the relative recency of the Jim Crow laws ..." from The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward, Professor of History, Johns Hopkins University.) Now you and I have always heard That Jim Crow's such a tough old bird, Flapped around forever and a day, Still he around on Judgment Day Never going to chase that bird away! Now that's the story we've always heard: Jim Crow old as old can be, Oldest bird in our history ... Born before the Civil War, Way way back, long before Old Jim Crow's been strictly legal Longer than the American eagle. Such a long-time flying bird! Long-time lying story heard. Don't believe it, not a single word. Turn to the truth of history. Learn for yourself from history. Jim Crow never came alive until 1895. Never had segregation before; No time before the Civil War. Not even in the Civil War. Then Reconstruction come along — You bet Jim Crow didn't come along! When Reconstruction got done wrong Still Jim Crow didn't come along! Not till much much later on: That's when Jim Crow first came on. Old Jim Crow's hold not so old. Not so long. Not so strong. Not such a much of a tough old bird ... Not such a long — time flying time As History goes, as Jim Crow flies ... Time enough. So long! Shoofly! • 6

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Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


ay, one of the characters in Adrienne Kennedy’s shattering two-hander, He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, never really knew her father, a man Kennedy describes in stage directions as a writer of “history and mystery.” That’s a pretty good designation for Kennedy herself, though not in the conventional ways either of those genres is typically understood. For more than a halfcentury, Kennedy has been reshaping American drama with enduringly powerful plays in which the past is a puzzle, tugging on the present like a ferocious undertow; racism is its most forceful rip current. With both lyricism and a swirling sense of menace, Kennedy’s plays have examined the wreckage this violent tide has left in its wake as it has ebbed and swelled over the decades. Today, when it is surging, Kennedy, 86, has brought us a new play: tender, terrifying, and tragically timely.

He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box—having its world premiere at Theatre for a New Audience — traces the doomed romance of two 17-year-olds from Montefiore, Georgia in 1941—which is to say, against a backdrop of Jim Crow at home and advancing Nazism in Europe. As in her earlier work, Kennedy draws from personal memories as well as literary sources, Hollywood movies, news reports of world events, communal lore and gossip, family photographs, and everything else that piles up in the archives of information, imagery, and feeling that shape our sense of self and the world. From her first play, Funnyhouse of a Negro, which exploded onto Off-Broadway in 1964 with its daring, delirious style, Kennedy has often figured that world as fragmented and unfixed. Her central characters typically have been African-American H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 7

THE BLOODSTAINED DISTANCE ALISA SOLOMON women, internally divided and plagued—by nightmarish visions, memories of violence, the acid self-doubt that seeps into their psyches from ever-present toxic clouds of misogyny and racism. As in those earlier plays, meaning in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box accretes through a powerful mix of imagery and allusion. It might be as direct as a hurtling train or as oblique as a minor Elizabethan play, but it always suffuses the action with associations that amplify and productively complicate Kennedy’s themes. At the same time He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box differs formally from that earlier, more abstract work. While it shares a sense of interior turmoil, with its pair of protagonists—divided from each other rather than within—it is less surreal. Most notably, the new play features a rare element in a Kennedy play: a linear plot in which time moves in only one direction: relentlessly forward. The basic storyline is intentionally familiar, even a common trope, as some of the

allusions in the play emphasize: With the blithe idealism of pop-culture paramours, Christopher and Kay set out to leave Montefiore, marry in New York, and invent new futures for themselves. Someday—after the War—they hope to live in Paris, “just like in Bitter Sweet,” Kay says, citing Noel Coward’s romantic operetta, in which Christopher performs in New York. A showing in Montefiore of the 1940 film version (starring Jeanette MacDonald and Nelson Eddy) was also an occasion, we learn, when Christopher studied Kay from a distance, as he always had done: “I saw you a while back at the movie house sitting up in the colored section.” Observing from afar— across expanses of space, time, or discriminatory custom—and ruminating over what they have seen and heard, form the protagonists’ central actions. The operetta pokes into the couple’s story again as Christopher sings one of its wistful songs (picked up later by Kay): “Just as long as we remain together / Trouble seems to fade away”—a

Left: Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein. Right: Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald in the 1940 film of Noel Coward's Bitter Sweet. MGM.


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THE BLOODSTAINED DISTANCE ALISA SOLOMON sentiment that proves as absurd for Kennedy’s lovers as for the characters in Bitter Sweet. But as the other dramatic allusion in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box makes clear, the thwarting of Christopher and Kay’s union is as political as it is personal; as consequential, if read within the thick context Kennedy gives it, as it is intimate. That other reference is to Marlowe’s Massacre at Paris, the bloody tragedy from 1593 about the mass slaughter of Huguenots in response to a marriage that the marauders deemed unacceptable—between the Catholic Margaret of Valois and the Protestant Henry of Navarre. Thousands died. In the opening scene of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, Kay perches atop a staircase, peering down onto a stage at a boarding school for black students. She is watching fellow pupils perform Marlowe’s play (whose verse they don’t really understand, one of Kennedy’s script notes indicates) when Christopher, who is working in the storeroom of

an adjacent building, approaches and strikes up what may be their first conversation ever, though they had been aware of each other throughout their childhoods. He is white, the son of a rich landowner and architect of the town’s segregation system. Kay addresses him as “Mr. Chris.” Lines of Marlowe float with foreboding into their exchange. Though the two communicate with each other, Kennedy calls her play “two monologues,” perhaps because what they communicate—their respective family histories—makes clear that the bloodstained distance between them cannot be closed. By the play’s second half, when Christopher is acting in New York and Kay is studying at Atlanta University and then heading north on a train to meet him, their exchanges, figured as letters they are writing to each other, indeed play as monologues. In turn, each recounts the tales they’ve been told and the events they’ve observed, struggling to solve the mysteries of their personal histories, and somehow, thereby, to escape them.

Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

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THE BLOODSTAINED DISTANCE ALISA SOLOMON Kay (like Kennedy’s own mother) is the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy white man and a young black woman. She is consumed by the conflicting stories she’s heard about her mother’s death in Cincinnati, a few weeks after Kay was born: sometimes Kay has been told that her mother, Mary, shot herself, sometimes that she’d been found in a freight elevator, stabbed to death. The murderer, relatives elaborated, was her father, Charles. What’s more, they said, Charles (as if fulfilling an order by the evil queen in “Snow White”) put Mary’s heart in a green glass box and brought it back to Montefiore. Did he take the stilled, fist-sized organ as a gruesome trophy? As a twisted keepsake of a love he could not permit himself to express and sustain? As an emblem of his shame? One thing is certain: Kay came into the world in the turbulent slipstream of racial and gender violence. So did Christopher, but from the other side. Inchoately, he is trying to piece together the reach of the structural racism his forebears helped to erect in Montefiore. He knows, for instance, that his grandfather designed their segregated trains: “Jim Crow car here, the straw seats the small toilet and the White car velvet seats,” he indicates, showing Kay items in the storeroom, whose contents glow ominously through the play like shallowly buried radioactive waste. A miniature model of Montefiore shares space with “White” and “Colored” signs, old photographs, books, maps and other markers of the town’s civic identity. Kennedy’s mother came from Montezuma, Georgia—the inspiration for Montefiore—and the playwright visited every summer as a child. “That town has a mythic quality to it,” she once told the playwright SuzanLori Parks in an interview. He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box proposes Montefiore as America in microcosm: sustained by white supremacy, sexual double standards, and the unrestrained license—and violence—of wealthy men. Christopher knows, too, that his father, Harrison Aherne, had children by three different black women, all three of the mothers now dead. Aherne built a Negro cemetery, where he buried them and marked the sites: “They are the only 10

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Nigra women in Montefiore to have tombstones on their graves,” he says. Why his father tends that cemetery perplexes Christopher. Even more unfathomably, he wonders why his father went to Germany, taking Christopher along when he was 10—that is, around 1934. He vaguely recalls going to a parade, and hearing discussions about Montefiore’s library “and how colored were strictly forbidden to enter.” He remembers German visitors to his family’s home in Georgia. What Christopher can’t figure out, Kennedy’s audiences can: Montefiore served as a prototype for Nazi planning. The idea is not farfetched. The historian James Whitman, for one, has shown how in the early 1930s, Nazi lawyers looked to the United States for examples in drafting the Nuremberg laws. They were most inspired by America’s racebased immigration policies and, especially, by antimiscegenation statutes. “America was a beacon of anti-miscegenation law, with thirty different state regimes,” Whitman writes in Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law. “There were no other models for miscegenation legislation that the Nazis could find in the world . . .” As Kay trundles in a train toward her tragic fate, one can’t help but hear the relentless clatter of box cars crossing Europe. Kennedy is not drawing an analogy between Jim Crow and genocide; she is laying bare the tracks of brutality that both run on. History seems to have trapped Christopher and Kay inside their narrative legacies, boxing in their beating hearts. How they might make a life together remains their shared and unresolved mystery. And ours.• ALISA SOLOMON is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where she directs the MA concentration in Arts & Culture. A longtime theater critic, political journalist, and dramaturg (most recently for Anna Deavere Smith’s Notes from the Field), she is the author of Re-Dressing the Canon: Essays on Theater and Gender (winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism) and of Wonder of Wonders: A Cultural History of Fiddler on the Roof, an “editor’s choice” in the New York Times Book Review and winner of the Jewish Journal Book Prize, the George Freedley Memorial Award (Theatre Library Association), and the Kurt Weill Prize. Alisa was a theater critic and staff writer at the Village Voice (1983 – 2004), and has written for the New York Times, Nation,, The Forward, Theater, and other publications.


Left: Adrienne Kennedy, photo by Jack Robinson. Right: Branden Jacobs-Jenkins, photo by Sam Icklow.


n December 2017, as rehearsals began for He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins (Soho Rep's An Octoroon, seen at TFANA in 2015) spoke by phone with Adrienne Kennedy from her home in Virginia. BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS First, I want to tell

you how honored I am to be doing this with you. Your work has been so important to me since I first discovered it as a college student, so I feel a little bit star-struck just speaking to you right now. And when I saw the announcement that Theatre for a New Audience was doing this play, I nearly jumped out of my seat. It felt like manna from the heavens—that and the very fact you were still writing even. How long’s it been since your last production of a new play? ADRIENNE KENNEDY According to a couple of

people, I haven’t had an original play since Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles? That was at the Public Theater about 10 years ago. I’d lived in Manhattan, basically, since 1950, and lived in my apartment on 89th Street for 30 years.

And then I could no longer get up the steps, and the rent kept going up and up… so I came to visit my son, here in Virginia, and I never left. There’s just so many trees here. I wasn’t expecting to write a play. Not in the least bit. I write loads and loads of journals, but somehow this play just emerged. Because I got angry—I was angry at my grandson’s high school in Virginia. It so reminded me of Ohio State in the ‘50s, and that made me very angry. And—because I do keep all these notebooks, and I have loads of photographs—this play just kind of emerged. What was going on with your grandson’s high school? BRANDEN

ADRIENNE Well, there were few black kids, and

they seemed to stand out, in an uncomfortable way that I remember. I just couldn’t believe that they were going through the same thing, basically, that I went through at Ohio State. They felt very isolated. BRANDEN I love stories about plays that just sort

of “show up.” That’s happened to me only once maybe, but I think it’s what every writer is always H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 11

INTERVIEW: ADRIENNE KENNEDY BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS praying for: the bolt of inspiration out of the blue, right? So, when you sat down and started this, was it something that emerged out of that journaling practice, or did it arrive fully formed as a play? ADRIENNE The room in my son’s house faces

all these trees, and I’m just staring at all these trees—and I have loads of photographs. My mother kept all these photographs, and I was always working on the scrapbook that she kept when she went to University. I actually did something with that at The Hutchins Center [for African and African American Research, at Harvard] last year. I was always working on a scrapbook, I was always working on my movie stars. I tend to be, amazingly, like I was when I was 8 years old. So I was working with all these photographs, and I found a photograph of my mother’s boarding school, at a place called Fort Valley, Georgia. She Juliana Canfield in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

talked about that boarding school constantly. It’s a very Victorian looking boarding school. It reminded me of the Brontës. So, that was a big inspiration. And I spent six summers in Georgia when I was a kid. We lived in Cleveland, but I spent six summers in Georgia, visiting my grandmother. And I’ve never been able to unravel that town, and all those relationships. What amazes me, Branden, is that I tend to think about the same things I’ve thought about all my life, and I always try to unravel those things. BRANDEN I love that. It’s very Proustian, somehow. ADRIENNE I just had another go at trying to

unravel that town, and those six summers, and that’s really what it is. BRANDEN I think that all of the plays you’ve

written since Ohio State Murders have been wrestling very beautifully with this idea of remembrance—or you’re finding a new way to stage the importance or power of memory. And I especially love the kind of Gothic qualities of this new play: there’s stories within stories, and images within images. Is memory a thing that you think a lot about? ADRIENNE Oh, I do. I do. I do think about

the past a lot. I don’t know why, but I’ve been compelled to work with my mother’s scrapbook. It’s the first book I read, when I was 3 years old, and I still keep working with it. There’s no doubt that I still think a lot about that town. Because my parents were born in that town. My grandparents were born in that town. I spent six hot summers there. So I tend to think about that Georgia town a lot. I think about my parents a lot, because my parents—I realized how unusual they were. My father was a social worker, he was a Y secretary. My mother was a schoolteacher, she taught fifth grade science. I think you have to get older before you realize—they put so much energy into me. And they were so concerned about me. So I think about 12

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INTERVIEW: ADRIENNE KENNEDY BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS that, a lot. BRANDEN Are the characters in this piece based on

anyone from your life, or are they all fiction? Or are they kind of an amalgam? I hate that question, but I’m always curious. ADRIENNE They’re fiction. You mean the main

characters? BRANDEN Yeah. The kinds of stories that are

haunting them—the stories they’re telling—feel so vivid. ADRIENNE Oh, the stories—those are an amalgam.

I don’t think she would’ve defined herself like that, but my mother was a great storyteller. She always held me captive. She smoked Lucky Strike cigarettes, and she’d always say, “Adrienne, I wanna tell you something.” She is just all over my whole writing career. And my father, because he gave speeches. Really, everything I write is a kind of

mixture of his speeches, and her telling me all these stories about Georgia. BRANDEN I have a similar thing. My mother’s

family is from Camden, Arkansas, and I spent basically every summer of my childhood there, with my grandparents, until they both passed. I’m always jealous of writers who have a kind of internal sense of place or write with a sense of place. Like, I have colleagues who write about Vermont, or Idaho, or Detroit, but I’ve never had that kind of thing in me. The space that lives most creatively inside of me is a place I never actually called “home,” so it always feels slightly like an imaginary place. Maybe that’s the same for you. ADRIENNE What was the name of that town? BRANDEN Camden, Arkansas. It was a mill town. ADRIENNE A mill town? Oh my God! And you

spent summers, there?

Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 13


or around there. I somehow can access it when I’m writing more easily than I can access New York, where I’ve been living now for almost the entirety of my adult life. It’s just interesting, the way that certain places creep into your imaginative space, you know?

through their letters, it feels like they’re trying to actively process the cruelty that they grew up with. You know what I mean? ADRIENNE Oh, wonderful. Oh, I love the way

you—you’re right, you’re so right.

ADRIENNE Do you think it’s all childhood?

BRANDEN Do you feel close to your characters’ generation?

BRANDEN I wonder. I grew up in Washington, D.C.,

ADRIENNE Well, my father is born in 1904. My

but D.C. doesn’t live that way for me. Maybe it’s because the South—the senses are just activated in a different way. I still remember the specific natural details of my grandparents’ properties. But I don’t remember Washington, D.C. beyond my front porch. ADRIENNE It’s very funny, because those train

rides—my brother and I took them together, those train rides from Cleveland, down to Montezuma, Georgia. Of course, in Atlanta you got in the Jim Crow car. Those train rides, and those hot summers, they’re very vivid. I think I was about six to twelve. And of course, all those relationships were so tangled. The whole black-white thing. BRANDEN Oh my gosh, yes. All over my family

tree there are these interesting full-stops, usually a relative with a white parent who was abandoned and left on some colored woman’s doorstep in town. That’s my great-grandfather’s story. The minute you start to look into these things, you realize these entire towns—half of them were family in some way. Especially after Reconstruction. ADRIENNE I know! BRANDEN It’s so wild, it’s totally wild.

It’s interesting that you say you’re always writing about your parents. I think every writer, probably, in some way, is doing that. Trying to unravel the mystery of your immediate origins. My mother’s generation, she and all her brothers left Arkansas and went to different places across the country. Your play, in some funny way, reminded me of her because yours is the story of someone who gets out. Kay gets out of Montefiore, Georgia—the play's version of Montezuma. They both get out, and 14

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mother is born in 1907, and they were born right down the road from each other. They went to Morehouse, and Atlanta University, around 1930. To me, they’re the greatest generation. My parents and their friends, to me, have qualities that I don’t have, my children don’t have. They’re very imaginative, hardworking people. They created so much. My mother could teach all day, and then she could come home and cook a perfect dinner, and her house always looked perfect. They had qualities, I think, that are just so admirable. Adrienne Kennedy's parents, Etta Hawkins and Cornell Wallace Hawkins, circa 1930. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.


grandmother and her life. She put herself through teachers’ college, the first person in our family to get a degree. She would survive off of one cabbage a week. And she would split the year – half in Little Rock, in school, the other in Camden, teaching school. She did this back and forth for so long. Then she raised three children but also held down a teaching job the whole time. There’s something about the endurance, or the stamina—

school, almost on a whim, and he retired as a government employee. It’s almost classic. ADRIENNE That’s amazing.

I love those words. Endurance, and stamina. See, I don’t quite have that. I have endurance, stamina, about half as much as my mother did. BRANDEN Oh, get out of here! I feel like your

BRANDEN —of that generation, that feels almost

gift to the world is about your stamina for introspection. Your work burrows in very deeply, and illuminates a kind of psychology of suffering. I believe that’s important work.


ADRIENNE Well, when I grew up in Cleveland,

ADRIENNE That’s exactly it, endurance and

educated, technically, for three generations, which is fairly unheard of among a lot of black families in the South.

it was an immigrant neighborhood—immigrant and black. It was an Italian and black school. Of course, all of the teachers were white. There was only one black schoolteacher in the Cleveland public school system in the ‘30s and early ‘40s. So it’s really the British writers that I was influenced by: Charles Dickens, the Brontës. When we were in junior high school, we read all those people. Wordsworth, Shelley. For better or for worse, those are the people that I saw as writers.

ADRIENNE That’s amazing. I read online, your

BRANDEN Those were your first encounters with

ADRIENNE Yes, yes.

stamina. Is she still alive? BRANDEN No, she’s not. She passed in ’93. ADRIENNE She went to teachers’ college? BRANDEN Yes. So my family’s been college

dad’s a dentist?


BRANDEN He was a dentist. He was a prison

ADRIENNE Most definitely. Even though my father

dentist, actually. ADRIENNE A prison dentist? BRANDEN Yeah, he worked in prisons for 36 years. ADRIENNE You’re joking! BRANDEN No, no, he pulled the teeth of convicts.

That was his bread and butter. That side of my family is pretty much a case study in black migration. The Jenkinses were slaves-then-sharecroppers in the Carolinas. My grandfather and grandmother moved up from the tobacco fields to Baltimore, where he started working at Bethlehem Steel, so my father grew up in the city. Then he wound up going to dental

was always reading me Paul Laurence Dunbar and Langston Hughes, European literature was what was taught at Ohio State. There was only one black writer that we even looked at, and that was Richard Wright. I think the British writers… Hamlet is my favorite play. Jane Eyre is my favorite novel. It’s those childhood things. It’s childhood. BRANDEN That’s what I meant, about the

Gothicness in this play. It sort of reminds me of the Brontës. Like Wuthering Heights, which is one of my favorite novels ever. And in your play, the children are burdened with their parents’ tragedy. They’re trying to reconstruct it, illuminate it somehow, in order to save themselves but then they’re sort of swept up in the tempest of it by its very telling. ADRIENNE Again, it’s my mother with her Lucky H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 15

INTERVIEW: ADRIENNE KENNEDY BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS Strike cigarette, sitting there. She would just tell me stories about all of those people in that town. Her stories to me are very much like the monologues in all my plays. BRANDEN What has the theater meant to you?

What does it mean to you now? ADRIENNE I fell in love with the theater when I

was 16, and I saw The Glass Menagerie. Tennessee Williams still remains very, very important to me. Lorca is my favorite playwright, really—Poet in New York. My husband was a grad student, and we came to New York in 1955. I love the theater of the ’50s, the musicals of the ‘50s.

old. I’ve written a lot of things that I’ve thrown away, I’ve written lots of things that will never see the light of day. Occasionally, I’ve had these plays up. But I owe almost everything to the academic world. Because I taught for so long, I understand that. I would always teach Amiri Baraka’s Dutchman, I would always teach The Seagull. I understand the love of plays, the love of literature. That’s really what I love. BRANDEN Maybe the better version of the question

is: what does it mean to you to write plays? ADRIENNE I see, I know what you’re saying. I think

I haven’t been to the theater in years. And I don’t consider myself a playwright, because I haven’t had very many pleasant experiences when I’ve had my plays put on. I feel the best about scholars – the academic world. They Xeroxed my plays, and kept them alive. But I don’t really like the theater that much, from my experiences when I’ve had plays put on.

I still owe it to The Glass Menagerie. Because when I saw that—we seemed to be an ideal family, but my parents had loads and loads of problems, and subsequently got a divorce. And when I saw The Glass Menagerie, and I saw those people—even today, right this very morning, if I saw The Glass Menagerie, I would start weeping, weeping. It’s those people, living in their living room, with all their problems.... That inspired me so much. Death of a Salesman, also….

I see myself, Branden, as a writer. I’m a scribbler, I really am. I’ve been scribbling since I was 6 years

And, I just… I love New York. To me, New York is the greatest city in the world, and when I came

An off-Broadway group portrait, 1965. From left: Edward Albee, Lanford Wilson, Paul Foster, Kenneth Pressman, Lawrence Osgood, Adrienne Kennedy, Lee Kalcheim. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.


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INTERVIEW: ADRIENNE KENNEDY BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS to New York with my husband in 1955, I wanted to be a part of something. I’d already been taking writing courses, and people said I had a talent for writing scenes—“Oh, you write scenes so well.” So, in a way, what was left for me was to be a part of New York. Do you know what I mean? BRANDEN Yes, totally. ADRIENNE I didn’t want to just go to parties,

and have people say, how’s the baby, how’s your husband, and all that. I wanted to be a part of it. I might owe something to my Ohio State drama teacher, who gave me an A—the only A I ever got at Ohio State, practically. Because she said, you really understand plays. So, I was reaching for what people had said. All through my 20s, I wrote constantly. I went to the New School, I went to the American Theater Wing. I’ve written about this in People Who Led to My Plays: when I went on a trip to Africa, we were out of the country 13 months, and that’s when I wrote Funnyhouse of a Negro. And the monologues that I had written in Ghana, and the monologues that I wrote in Rome—I realized that they had something. I thought my earlier writing was okay, but I realized I had something. It was the landscape: the landscape of Ghana, the landscape of West Africa, and the landscape of Rome.

teas, and their lunches, and their clubs. She loved all that so much. BRANDEN Do you know the novelist Patrick

White? He once talked about how you stop reading when you turn thirty, because if you’re a writer, you have to spend the rest of your life trying to get down everything you need to say. Have you stopped reading, or do you still read quite a bit? ADRIENNE I will always be interested in people—

what they did, how they traversed the universe. I’m not attracted to fiction anymore, but I watch a lot of documentaries. And I do read a lot of stuff online. I love to find out how people got started, and then what obstacles they met. I watch, again and again, the Roosevelts. I’m kind of obsessed with the Windsors. I’ve watched many documentaries on the Windsors, starting with Queen Victoria. But the last fiction book I read was Joyce Carol Oates, Blonde. BRANDEN Oh, the Marilyn Monroe book. That’s

funny, it’s kind of a documentary. ADRIENNE Exactly. I would love to be able to write

a book like that.

to you in that way? That feels very Brontë-esque, too. Their whole thing was the moors, the moors, the moors…

I do want to say, of course—and I’m sure it’s true with you—I love pen and paper. The typewriter. I love writers. I’m very in awe of writers. That has never gone away. And I like pop culture—music, pop songs. I’m a kid of the radio, you know? And I still have my radio.

ADRIENNE I think I’m still trying to imitate that!

BRANDEN I love that. You don’t happen to watch

I really do. I’ve been to several writers’ houses. I’ve been to O’Neill’s house, and to the Brontë cottage… I ran upon the heather. I mean, I was old, I was in my 60s!

ADRIENNE I do watch Netflix.

BRANDEN What is it about a landscape that speaks

Oddly enough, I always saw Cleveland as barren. I used to upset my mother so much. I’d say, I hate it here! She’d almost start crying! Because she loved it so much. She loved that world that they’d discovered, and she loved all their parties, and their

Netflix, do you?

BRANDEN There’s something similar to Netflix,

called FilmStruck. It’s like Netflix, but it’s just tons and tons of old movies. One of my students turned me on to it, and I think about you often when I’m watching it, because A Movie Star Has To Star in Black and White is one of my favorite plays. It’s this incredible repository. Right now, I’m watching H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 17


others also. Strangers on a Train….


BRANDEN Rear Window’s one of my Top Three of All

BRANDEN Uh-oh, do you know that movie? ADRIENNE Of course I’ve seen Laura! I’ve seen all

those movies 100 times. Those people—Bette Davis, Hitchcock, all those people—I probably will always underestimate what I’ve learned from them. BRANDEN Even in this new play—there’s a kind of

thriller aspect to it, right? There’s this simmering dread throughout the whole thing, that does kind of remind me a bit of Hitchcock. ADRIENNE Hitchcock is very important to me.

Vertigo of course, is my favorite, but I like the Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight (1944). MGM.


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Time. And I love Notorious and North by Northwest. ADRIENNE I learned so much from those movies.

Because when you’re really young—you’re like eleven, twelve—you’re really like an empty palette. And these things are so powerful. I can remember seeing Gaslight when I was 12 years old. I tried to make my hands do that. I think every evening or formal dress I bought for many years was an imitation of the dress she wore to the concert. As a kid growing up in a place like Cleveland— this is so far removed from you—we did go to the movies every Saturday. It was five cents, and it was something that the white kids—the Italian

INTERVIEW: ADRIENNE KENNEDY BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS kids—did with the black kids. That was the only thing we ever really did together. We went to see the movies for five cents, and of course, it was a double feature. BRANDEN The place where the two characters in

your play meet is the movie theater, right? He says, “I saw you at Bitter Sweet.” I love that. ADRIENNE That’s a real place. The movie theater

in Montezuma, which is the real name of that town, was so dramatic. It was this tiny movie theater, with a whites-only section of regular movie seats. My grandmother would only take me once, because she despised it so. The blacks had to walk up the back stairwell, and there were four or five benches where blacks sat. That movie theater was so important. The only one in the town, of course. BRANDEN And blacks had to pay the same amount

like that. I have a photograph of that movie theater. But all those movies, like The Letter, Dark Victory—Bette Davis movies are very important to me. Very important, because Bette Davis was a person who had violent feelings. And I was— everybody said I was such a sweet little kid, clinging to my mother’s dress. But I couldn’t understand why I felt like I did, and Bette Davis was a release of all these violent feelings that were going on inside me. Now, Voyager is one of my favorite movies of all time. And Mildred Pierce. Those movies, they gave me hope. I felt I could be an interesting person, I didn’t have to be—all my mother’s friends were elementary school teachers, and I was expected to be an elementary school teacher. So those people were a great inspiration to me. BRANDEN Pop culture becomes the way out for

ADRIENNE Yes, and you walked up a back

so many people, the space where you can imagine something other than your life. Which is the first step to changing it, I guess.

stairwell. I went there from ’36 to ’43, something

ADRIENNE I like that. A way out. That’s exactly

as whites?

Bette Davis in Now, Voyager (1942). MGM.

what it was. BRANDEN Is there anything else you want to talk

about—about the play or anything—before we end? It’s very haunting. I’ve been thinking about it since I read it, kind of non-stop. ADRIENNE I think the play is, to me, a victory.

Because it is, on paper, things that I can’t stop thinking about. • This interview has been edited and condensed. BRANDEN JACOBS-JENKINS’ plays include Everybody (Signature Theater), Neighbors (Public Theater), An Octoroon (Soho Rep, OBIE Award for Best New Play), Appropriate (Signature Theater, OBIE Award for Best New Play, Outer Critics Circle nominee), and Gloria (Vineyard Theater, Pulitzer prize finalist). He is a Residency Five playwright-in-residence at the Signature Theatre and the recipient of a 2016 MacArthur fellowship, the Windham-Campbell Prize for Drama, and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at the Juilliard School and holds an MA in Performance Studies from NYU. Along with Annie Baker, he is an associate director of the Playwriting MFA program of Hunter College, City University of New York.

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Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.


DRIENNE KENNEDY has been a force in American theatre since the early 1960s. She is a threetime Obie award winner, including for Funnyhouse of a Negro in 1964, June and Jean in Concert in 1996 and Sleep Deprivation Chamber which she co-authored with her son Adam Kennedy. She received an Obie for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. Among her other honors are the American Academy of Arts and Letters award, a Guggenheim fellowship, an Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award in 2003 and a Modern Language Association Honorary Fellow in 2005. Her plays are read and taught in universities all over the world. She has been a visiting professor at the University of California at Berkeley and Harvard University, among others and has been commissioned by The Public, the Royal Court, Juilliard and by Jerome Robbins. Signature Theatre devoted its entire 1995-96 Season to her work. Her memoir People Who Led To My Plays was recently reissued by Theatre Communications Group. In 2007 Theatre for a New Audience produced the Off-Broadway premiere of Ohio State Murders featuring LisaGay Hamilton and directed by Evan Yionoulis. Note from the playwright: “I would like to thank TFANA for doing my play, and thank the cast, crew and staff. It is a thrill to be at the Polonsky. And always I thank the Kennedy family who keep me afloat. This play. Could not have been written without the room Facing trees and the iPad given to me by my son Adam Kennedy And his wife Renee in their house on the lane.” -Adrienne 20

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Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


hristopher Niquet's 2017 interview with Adrienne Kennedy was originally published in Lula Magazine, issue #24. It is republished here with kind permission of the author. CHRISTOPHER NIQUET You grew up in Ohio, the

home state of Dorothy Dandridge, Lillian Gish, Dean Martin, Clark Gable, and Doris Day. To my European ears, there is a particular purity and clarity to the English spoken in Ohio. Were you influenced by what you heard as a child, as much as by what you read? ADRIENNE KENNEDY Important, language.

First, both my parents were from Georgia and had Southern accents. It was a prime goal of the boarding schools and colleges they went to that the Negro students speak perfect English. And it was supremely important to the students, later, that their children speak perfect English. Often the

dinner table was a place where you were corrected. In the fall of 1937 we moved to a neighborhood in Cleveland called Mount Pleasant, which had been built by Italians in the 1920s. It was still more than half Italian: the children were first-generation and spoke Italian at home and English in school. I heard Italian a lot and was aware of the rhythms of it. There were several Greek families, and Polish families, and a few Jewish families fleeing Poland. No one ever mentioned an “Ohio” language. The teachers at my elementary school, like my parents, were fixed on the idea that all the children should speak what they perceived to be good English. In the neighborhood I heard Italian a lot and was aware of the rhythms of it. Our next-door neighbors from 1937 to 1943 only spoke Italian. They were two families who had homes, brothers, so I heard Italian all the time. Their children Sonny and Angie spoke English. Good English was H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 21

ADRIENNE KENNEDY'S SILENT THEATRICAL REVOLUTION CHRISTOPHER NIQUET how people spoke in the movies, or in books, or in the newspaper. What I heard from my parents and their friends were people with Southern accents determined to speak like people on the radio. There was no respect for anything that resembled how people spoke in Ohio. When I went to Ohio State, I distinctly heard the flat Ohio accent you describe. Ninety-nine percent of the students were from small towns; I connect that accent with white small towns. I found it jarring. I knew it wasn’t what my parents and teachers had tried to instill in us. CHRISTOPHER Did you inherit your mother’s love

of movies in the same way you inherited the speech she’d learned from them? ADRIENNE I was named after a movie star,

Adrienne Ames. As far back as I can remember, my mother went to the movies once a week. That was something hundreds of people did. When I was five or six, she began to take me with her. In the movie theatre she was different: she would cry and laugh, she was not the stern person she usually was at Left: Publicity still of Adrienne Ames, circa 1934. Paramount. Right: Adrienne Kennedy. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.


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home. She always asked my opinion about the story and the characters, and the clothes. She seemed to like these people. By the time I was eight, the kids in the neighborhood all went to the movie every Saturday, a consistent group of us: Italian, Greek, and Negro. This Saturday adventure was a source of supreme pleasure, and in the summer we would reenact scenes from the movies. I often asked my mother why we couldn't live in Hollywood. It seemed natural that we should go there. Or to the places in the movies: Paris, London, New York. In my mind, I often became these people—and that continued. To this day I watch Now, Voyager; Mrs. Miniver; The Letter. Even now, if I watch Gaslight, I have the freedom to be Ingrid Bergman for two hours, live in London and Italy, be the heroine of a murder mystery—and no one can take it from me. CHRISTOPHER What books inspired you as a young girl? ADRIENNE The Cleveland public schools taught

mainly European literature. We read Shelley,

ADRIENNE KENNEDY'S SILENT THEATRICAL REVOLUTION CHRISTOPHER NIQUET Keats, Wordsworth, the Brownings. Our teachers repeated over and over that these writers captured the essence of life. In high school, they taught Poe and Nathaniel Hawthorne. I was not unique; I was reading what I was being taught in school. I read all the books in the elementary school library and won an award to go to a state reading contest. Charlotte Brontë came late—I was ten when I read Jane Eyre. Dickens was emphasized throughout: A Christmas Carol when I was a child, and in junior high A Tale of Two Cities, David Copperfield, and Oliver Twist. When we read Hamlet in my senior year of high school, it was introduced as a huge event. At home I learned about black culture. My father read me Langston Hughes and Paul Lawrence Dunbar. I read all the books in the elementary school library and won an award to go to a state reading contest. I was always talking to my mother, and her life at boarding school is what I was most captivated by. I knew no one else who had gone to boarding school. As I wrote in People Who Led to My Plays, it wasn’t until I read Jane Eyre that I encountered a story that seemed akin to my mother’s stories. Like Jane, she had a dead mother, was sent away, became a teacher. I saw a connection between real life and literature—no book has ever connected me to the world as much as Jane Eyre. I wasn't just this thin, pale, plain little girl who lived in Cleveland, who also was a Negro (my parents always repeated that white people didn't like us, and my father, a social worker, gave speeches on race). I was connected to the moors of England. This thin, pale child fastened herself to those prose and movie stories— like scores of children before me. CHRISTOPHER When did you realize that you could

create your own stories? ADRIENNE I was always writing tiny stories in my

autograph books, mostly about what I’d done that day. In fifth grade we read Laura Ingalls Wilder. Our teacher was very enamored of Wilder, and talked about how she was American, not English, and wrote about her life. I can remember thinking,

“I can do that. I want to be like Laura Ingalls Wilder.” I loved Little House in the Big Woods and can remember imagining that our house was in the big woods, not on a street in Mount Pleasant. And the people in Little House in the Big Woods were a family. I wrote tiny fragments, two or three lines, starting about age twelve, based on the conversations my parents had. At that time, in school, we were reading very simple plays published by Samuel French: little books, similar to my autograph books. In elementary school, I’d played the Virgin Mary in the Christmas play, wearing a sheet made for me by our teacher. I never forgot the attention I got. In high school, four of us on a double date went to see The Glass Menagerie simply because the girl who sat in front of me in study hall suggested it. Seeing that play in the round, sitting a few feet from the actors, is still possibly the greatest theatre experience I have ever had. Over the summer I kept thinking, “I could do that.” I started my own Glass Menagerie on notebook paper, incorporating more of the family dialogue. I had no idea my mother was reading it until she ordered me to stop writing down what was being said in our house. I obeyed her. I was about sixteen, and I forgot all about it. Two years later a freshman at Ohio State, a boy that everyone said was a little crazy took me to see Death of a Salesman on tour in downtown Columbus. That reignited my awareness that you could write about people in your family. Away from home, in the dorm at Ohio State, I started again writing brief—very brief—paragraphs. Writing paragraphs on notebook paper is still the basis of my work. And then I started reading plays. I learned who Tennessee Williams was. I learned who Arthur Miller was. But it wasn't until January 1955, when my husband Joe Kennedy and I and our baby came to brilliant 1950s’ New York—he was a grad student at Columbia—that I concluded that perhaps I could write a play. I went to the New School and wrote The Pale Blue Flowers in 1956. H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 23

ADRIENNE KENNEDY'S SILENT THEATRICAL REVOLUTION CHRISTOPHER NIQUET I love Laura, Tom, Amanda, and the Gentleman Caller as much as ever. They are my friends. I had a chance in 1966 to meet Tennessee Williams, but I did NOT want to meet him—he was too mythic. I had previously seen him on the Broadway subway and was only two feet away from him, but I could not speak. A Streetcar Named Desire is my favorite American play. The myth of Williams still sustains me. CHRISTOPHER Did you always know you’d become a writer? ADRIENNE I was expected, like all my friends, to be an elementary school teacher. CHRISTOPHER How did you find your own writing voice? ADRIENNE All I know is you keep writing and

writing. Succeeding sometimes. Failing. And writing more. Always trying to say what you have in your mind. Failing. A lot. There’s no doubt that seeing, at age 29, London. Paris, Casablanca, Liberia, Accra, Ghana, Rome, Florence, dramatically focused my writing.

I had been toying with stories about my cousin Sidney for years, but not until I saw the palace of Versailles did he come into full focus, and I wrote “Because of the King of France,” my story in Black Orpheus. I knew that in the story he would run away, as he did in real life, but I didn't know where I wanted him to run to until I saw Versailles. I call that finding a voice. CHRISTOPHER In your work, you weave the personal into the universal. When did you realize that you could make a bigger story out of your own obsessions? ADRIENNE What happened was Lorca. Somewhere around 1957, when Joe and I were still living at Columbia, I read Poet in New York. Much of it centers around Columbia, Harlem, Morningside Heights. I studied the book, trying to see why my own lines on Morningside Heights were so flat. I also studied The Seagull. I had not been in a war, did not have an exotic life, was not in the air force, the army, was not a great entertainer... It became crystal clear that my stories, centering on my family, were what I had. I knew that very often my pages, my plots, my

Wedding of Adrienne Kennedy and Joseph Kennedy, May 15, 1953. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.


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ADRIENNE KENNEDY'S SILENT THEATRICAL REVOLUTION CHRISTOPHER NIQUET landscapes, were flat, bland. It was clear I needed a metaphor for race. I was always perturbed, angry, full of hatred, feeling hated, feeling that white America was constantly trying to deprive me of my birthright. I was seeking metaphors, symbols. I could see that in Death of a Salesman, the cellar and the boys’ past were tools. I needed tools: I needed deaths, suicides. But there was no moment: these thoughts took place over years. A sustaining power was and always is Hamlet. I studied how Shakespeare used Hamlet’s father. I was always reading Ibsen, Flaubert, Dostoyevsky, Turgenev, Virginia Woolf. From films I learned how to set characters in a vivid place, with gigantic problems: Juarez, Shadow of A Doubt, Rebecca, How Green Was My Valley. The characters have concerns of power, love, struggle, conflicts, hatreds. Families were in conflict over religion, love, history. Reading biographies was crucial: Van Gogh, Picasso, the Curies, Kwame Nkrumah, Frida Kahlo, James Baldwin, the Brontës. I yearned to meet historical people, and used to imagine that I knew them, or knew the characters in stories. All this, over a long, long period, was teaching me how to bring my family stories to a level that was worthy of reading. I had tried for years to write about my mother and her half-sister. I found myself studying Blanche and Stella in Streetcar, studying the themes of poverty, Adrienne Kennedy with her husband Joseph and son Joseph Jr. at a bullfight in Mexico City, 1958. Photo courtesy of Adrienne Kennedy.

class, morality, love, loyalty, loss, devotion, time. I tried to imitate the fusion of elements. I can’t pinpoint a time when I thought consciously about any of this. There is no big realization. You just keep struggling in the dark. CHRISTOPHER The thing I love most about your work is its diversity. Sun is one of the most beautiful pieces of contemporary American literature I have read. Are you sometimes frustrated by being labeled a playwright? ADRIENNE Funny you should ask! I do not see

myself as a playwright. You may write plays sometimes, but what you are is a writer. Lorca is the kind of writer I aspired to be. You may write plays sometimes but you are a WRITER. Labels are so destructive. How about “black woman playwright”? Journalists seem to have endless categories. CHRISTOPHER How do you feel about the millennial generation, which seems to forgo fixed identities? ADRIENNE That is a profound question, and I

cannot answer it. I only know that the people I loved from childhood were to me without these journalistic definitions. I was too naive to glue definitions to people. When I was twelve, I was sent to a neighborhood piano teacher. Her name was Nina Eichenbaum. She and her sister had fled Warsaw. During lessons, she would tell me stories about composers, and she had small busts of them all around. She loved Chopin and I tried to learn to play one of the Polonaises, but I couldn’t, of course. But one of the things I owe to Nina Eichenbaum, and perhaps even to my public school teachers, is that they defined these people by name. There was no undue emphasis on their other identities. Chopin was Polish; that was about all. And perhaps a story: he was sickly. All the writers, painters, musicians, we discussed and defined broadly. Enter the Negro entertainers: H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 25

ADRIENNE KENNEDY'S SILENT THEATRICAL REVOLUTION CHRISTOPHER NIQUET Dizzy, Billie, Duke. Negro, yes, but no further breakdown: like Chopin, they were described just by their names. It wasn't until the 1970s that I heard all these definitions, and I recoil from them. I come from a political family. DuBois, Marian Anderson, Paul Robeson, Marcus Garvey, were frequently discussed. We read Crisis and the Pittsburgh Courier. The condition of American blacks was always being analyzed. But as a young person with a pen, or a Remington typewriter, I needed to cast aside imprisoning definitions. I needed to enter all stories. Richard Wright and Fitzgerald and Camus and Fanon. Duke Ellington and Judy Garland. It was my natural instinct. In my twenties, if I had kept repeating over and over, “I am a black female writer,” I would have been frightened. What did that mean? I knew Gwendolyn Brooks was Negro, but I called

her a Pulitzer Prize writer. I knew James Baldwin was Negro, but my New York friends called him a great essayist. If I had broken down all these people’s identities in the fashion of the last twenty years, I would not have been able to forge imaginary bonds and friendships with them. And forging imaginary bonds with everyone from Picasso to Joe Williams and Frank Sinatra is what gave me energy to see myself as a writer. And freed my mind. • This interview has been edited and condensed. CHRISTOPHER NIQUET is a Paris-born and Sorbonne-educated writer. Niquet relocated to New York city in 2006 after years working behind the scenes with designers in Paris (A.P.C., Karl Lagerfeld, Christian Lacroix) and Milan (D&G, Alessandro dell acqua, Anna Molinari). He is now a contributing writer to French Vanity Fair with a monthly column about culture and style and recently released his first book, Models Matter, a combination of his passions for fashion history, beauty and words.

Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


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Evan Yionoulis in rehearsal for Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.


s rehearsals approached in November 2017, Jonathan Kalb— Resident Literary Advisor at TFANA, and production dramaturg for He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box— sat down for a conversation with the production's director, Evan Yionoulis.

and, in each play, operate on the viewer/reader in such haunting and profound ways.

JONATHAN KALB This is the second Adrienne

and deeply personal. They are grounded in very tangible landscapes—the Quad at Ohio State or the main street in Montezuma, Georgia (where He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box is set)—but they also take you through a very resonant literary, musical, and cultural geography.

Kennedy play you’ve directed. Your production of Ohio State Murders was produced by Theatre for a New Audience in 2008. How did you first become interested in this author? EVAN YIONOULIS I had read much of Adrienne’s

work and of course was well aware of her importance to the field, but had not known Ohio State Murders until Jeffrey Horowitz sent me the play. I was immediately taken with it. I immersed myself in as much of her writing as I could, including her autobiography People Who Led to My Plays. It was fascinating to see how images and motifs weave their way through her body of work

JONATHAN What attracts you to her work? EVAN Adrienne’s plays are theatrical, poetic,

JONATHAN They’re partly autobiographical? EVAN Yes, there are definitely strong

autobiographical elements in Adrienne’s plays. Alongside their imagined characters and circumstances, you can always feel a palpable lived experience: the contradictions, the pain and the joy. In the two plays I’ve worked on, the most overtly violent events, like the murders in Ohio H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 27

INTERVIEW: EVAN YIONOULIS JONATHAN KALB State and the mother’s death in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box, are fictional. But the plays depict how the everyday cruelties of exclusion and humiliation, born of what Adrienne calls racial hatred, are even more crushing and brutalizing. And there’s unfortunately nothing fictional about that. In fact, I feel He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box , even more than I did when I first read it in 2014, speaks directly—and in an incredibly powerful way—to what the whole country is living through now. JONATHAN Can you say more about that? EVAN In the play, at the foot of the stairs, there is

a storeroom, dark and chaotic, that contains in it all the relics of the community’s carefully planned segregation. Adrienne describes White/Colored signs; a model of the fountain in the middle of town with its separate spigots for each race;

prototypes for two different train cars, one, Jim Crow, the other for whites, etc. In 2007 when we did Ohio State, I felt that things were getting better in terms of race relations in this country, that we’d gotten beyond a lot of the worst and were heading toward a society that was more evolved and inclusive. But Ferguson and Charlottesville and the last election have really made clear that we still have a lot of unfinished business. And that many people, white people in particular, have been in incredible denial about the subjugation and oppression that this country was built on, the storehouse of inequality that is still under all our feet and keeps breaking through to the surface. JONATHAN What are your thoughts on being a

white person directing Adrienne Kennedy?

LisaGay Hamilton and Cherise Boothe in Theatre for a New Audience’s 2007 production of Ohio State Murders by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Amy Arbus.


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INTERVIEW: EVAN YIONOULIS JONATHAN KALB EVAN I would not presume to know exactly

what it’s like to live in the shoes of an AfricanAmerican in America. But I believe very deeply in the importance of what Adrienne is trying to communicate. As a person, I can certainly identify with the humanity of her characters, their fears and desires, and as an artist I’m very drawn to the way this play combines text and music and image to tell its story. JONATHAN You’ve met her? EVAN Yes, a few times. Although Adrienne

won’t be in rehearsal, she’s an extremely generous collaborator and constantly shares her thoughts through email and phone calls. She’s shown us many photographs, both of the literal setting and its feel, and of her family. A lot of the visual research reminds me of my childhood and the time I spent with my grandparents in Wilson, a small town east of Raleigh, North Carolina, where I grew up. Adrienne’s mother—the model for the character Kay in He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box—went to Atlanta University in the 1920s and my mother went to the University of North Carolina in the 1940s. Adrienne showed me some scrapbooks that her mother had with invitations and programs and keepsakes from her time at college, and they were very much like things my mother had kept. JONATHAN How would you place He Brought

Her Heart Back in a Box in Kennedy’s body of work? She became famous for non-linear plays written early on that have fragmented action and fragmented selves. Then she moved on to other plays, particularly the Alexander plays, that made compromises with coherent and linear narrative. EVAN He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box is less

apparently fragmented than her earlier plays. But the idea of divided self and divided legacy is very much present. It’s about two young people in love who have been brought up in a world which is intent on keeping them apart. Throughout the play, as they plan for a future together, they try to make sense of things they’ve been told, and

of conflicting accounts overheard in childhood. They try to uncover the truth hidden amidst the contradictions. The play’s language is clear and direct, and, though the characters spend most of the time in separate spaces, there is a recognizable narrative of sorts. But I think the underlying aesthetic structure of the piece also lives in that place of fragmentation and contradiction, with many layers of quoted text, musical refrains, and visual images creating the larger meaning. JONATHAN How do you make drama of that kind,

so deeply rooted in memory and storehouses of images, vivid for an audience? EVAN I think you immerse yourself in the world

of the play and then try to create that emotional landscape for the audience. Some of the immersion will be created quite literally in our production through the seating configuration (we’re using the Polonsky with audience on three sides), and also through extensive use of projections, music, and shadows. In this way, the play’s visual and aural layering can become concrete, with a score and soundscape which includes music heard on the radio, in movies and theatres, and on the streets, from the blues to Noel Coward to hymns. Adrienne talks about Kay and Chris’s love as having the same scale as Mimi and Rodolfo from La Bohème. There’s an operatic quality to it. Most importantly, the actors have to be very specific and allow each moment to have its breath. The language is (except for the passages of Christopher Marlowe) certainly prose, but it contains the sort of concentrated distillation that great poetry has. I’ve been reading books about the Jim Crow era, testimonies from the 1930s and ’40s describing what life was like for blacks and whites in the South, how children of both races were taught the roles demanded of them. I would often find that Adrienne had captured the essence of paragraphs and paragraphs of research with one single phrase in the play. Because of her artistry and, of course, because of the life she’s lived. H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 29


context is sometimes taken to mean “difficult.” What’s your response to that? EVAN Well, I use the term “stage poetry” as the

highest praise. It’s when word and image and sound or music communicate something in a way that’s immediately felt by the audience. That may be challenging to achieve, but, almost by definition, it’s never challenging to receive. It’s a visceral communication, not something you have to figure out. The only thing difficult in the play, I think, are the hard truths about where we’ve come from and how much of that painful legacy endures. JONATHAN The play has theater as part of its

perpetuated. Jim Crow was a system worthy of emulation by the Nazis, as the play points out. Chris keeps trying to figure out, “who our German houseguests were when I was a child.” That was of course in the ‘30s. JONATHAN Harrison Aherne insists on approving

the Negro school curriculum, and he chose the Marlowe play, which is about revenge. EVAN Yeah, it’s about the obliteration of the

Other in a Protestant-Catholic context. There’s assassination and betrayal and slaughter, instigated and carried out by single-minded partisans. JONATHAN One thing I’ve noticed about Kennedy’s

subject matter, even a play within the play at one point—a Marlowe drama being done by the students. Later Chris becomes an actor in New York City and writes to Kay from a theater. What’s the significance of this?

plays is that she usually doesn’t just tell a story. She rather tells a story about the telling of a story, about the difficulties of coming to tell it. This is true of those earlier one-acts and of the Alexander plays too. Why does she do that?

EVAN The play starts with one character, Kay,

EVAN Well, telling stories has always been a way

standing in the wings of a theater as the other character, Chris, walks up steps to join her. It ends with Chris onstage then stepping into the wings to meet Kay who climbs up the stairs to meet him. There’s something about being on the stage, and being offstage, sometimes overhearing from the edges and sometimes being in the center of the story, that is central to the drama. Adrienne says in the script that the school children are performing Marlowe’s The Massacre at Paris—which of course is about religious fighting and bloodshed—without comprehending it. “The students do not try to make meaning of this play/it was assigned to them to perform…” JONATHAN Yes, why does she write that? EVAN I think it’s because we ourselves are repeating

by rote these lessons from the past. We’re repeating them often without even knowing what we’re saying, without knowing what we’re doing, without being conscious. Of course, Adrienne wouldn’t blame the schoolchildren, but I think when she makes Chris’s father the architect of segregation in that town, she’s pointing out that racial hatred is constructed; it’s carefully taught, enforced and 30

T H E AT R E F O R A N E W AU D I E N C E 36 0 ° S E R I E S

for us to examine our lives and our history and excavate what’s really going on in and around and under them. And some of these stories lay bare or bring to the surface frightening or uncomfortable truths. That’s the very project that we’re all involved in when making theater or going to theater. Adrienne talks about the summers that she spent in the small town where her mother grew up in Georgia, about going there as a child from Cleveland, a place which operated in a very different way, the mystery of that. She was not born in Georgia. She was foreign there; it was a foreign place. She talks about changing trains in Atlanta, and hearing the clanking as the Jim Crow car was hooked up in preparation for entering the South. And how frightening that was for her. There’s a way in which through her work, she is trying to piece through the memories and the images of her life, her past and also the movies and music and literature that are a part of it, to solve its mysteries, to figure out its meaning, and to question why, why, why were things how they were? Or how they are. It’s also what Kay and Chris are doing.


grandfather was, like Harrison Aherne, a white man in Georgia who owned peach orchards? EVAN Yes. JONATHAN And he also left a big beautiful house

to his Negro offspring, as Harrison did? EVAN To their cousins. Yes. After it had been run

down. So Adrienne uses autobiographical elements from her mother’s life for both characters, Kay and Chris. And from her father’s family, too. There’s never a neat one-to-one correspondence. JONATHAN The play contains many references to

the 1940 movie Bitter Sweet, which was adapted from a Noel Coward play. Can you speak about its significance? EVAN A lot of Adrienne’s work references movies.

The films that she saw, music that she heard, it’s all important in bringing the time and place to life, to making them real. In Ohio State Murders

the characters go to see Battleship Potemkin and view its violence and famous baby carriage-downthe-stairs scene as akin to their own struggles. Bitter Sweet is an operetta about a music teacher and a woman who flees an arranged marriage with a wealthy man to be with him. Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald played them in the movie. They escape to Vienna to be together. It’s the height of romance, but it ends tragically. JONATHAN It’s not an interracial love in the movie. EVAN Right. JONATHAN So do you think that Chris and

Kay might be flattering themselves in a way, comparing themselves to the white couple in the movie, believing they could be as free to run away to Europe as that white couple? Is it a realistic aspiration for them? EVAN Well, they almost do it. JONATHAN They get to New York City, not Europe.

Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 31

INTERVIEW: EVAN YIONOULIS JONATHAN KALB EVAN Right, they don’t make it to Paris. But they

might have gotten married in Harlem. I mean, Chris set the date. But they don’t, because there’s a larger force that is determined that they won’t have their happy ending. JONATHAN I find it fascinating that the person

who stops them—Harrison—is played by the same actor who plays Chris, one of the thwarted lovers. EVAN Right, that’s complicated. You were asking

before about fragmentary selves. Kay comes, of course, from a black mother and a white father. She contains that friction within her. But Chris is also full of contradictions. He defies his father’s worldview by seeking to marry Kay, but is a product of his father’s upbringing in ways he doesn’t even realize. JONATHAN How does Chris feel about his father

tending the Negro graveyard in town, or taking care of the education of his Negro progeny? Does he see it as honorable and kind?

time. He was downstairs and she was upstairs on the benches in the colored section. That’s the only way they could be together in Georgia. Adrienne saw this contradiction in her own grandfather, who sent Adrienne’s mother to Atlanta University but failed to acknowledge her in other father-like ways. JONATHAN So Harrison is okay with the Negros

in his life if they’re controllable, like the objects in the storeroom, or the dead people in the graveyard, but he won’t tolerate them being full-fledged human beings with independence and full agency? EVAN Yes. I mean, I think we’re still grappling with

what equality might really mean in this country. Adrienne said she wrote He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box for her grandson, whose stories of life in his Virginia high school seemed to her not that different from her experience at Ohio State, which itself contained elements of what her mother lived as a child in Montezuma.

Harrison’s boundaries? He does all of these things that could be considered benevolent, but will not tolerate the runaway love. What is his line that has been crossed?

Current disputes, over removing Civil War statues, for example, are asking us to take another look at our history since Emancipation. You know, right after the Civil War there was some social equality in the South. It took twenty years or so before southern whites mobilized to say, “Hey, how can we reorganize this so that freedom doesn’t really equal freedom? So that you can’t afford to work on the land that you’ve got and have to sharecrop someone else’s. So that our schools are separate and unequally funded. So you’re not going to enter through the front door. So that you call us Mr. and Mrs. and we never call you Mr. or Mrs.” Jim Crow. We’re still living with the after-effects. •

EVAN I think the runaway love aspires to be a love

This interview has been edited and condensed.

EVAN He says that he doesn’t understand why his

father takes all that time. Why does he walk the grounds there? Why did he give that beautiful house that his father built to the cousins of his Negro children? Why aren’t we living in that house? In that way Chris is also a product of his mother, who resents that they live in a nice house in town but not that house. JONATHAN So how should we understand

of equals. One might say some of Aherne’s actions show a caring for his Negro children, but they will never come in at the front door of his house. He’ll meet them in the principal’s office, but he’ll never be seen with them on Main St. That dividing line will never be crossed. Chris says he saw Kay at the movie Bitter Sweet, but they didn’t go to the movies together. They were at the movies at the same 32

T H E AT R E F O R A N E W AU D I E N C E 36 0 ° S E R I E S

JONATHAN KALB is Professor of Theatre at Hunter College, CUNY, and Resident Literary Advisor and Dramaturg at Theatre for a New Audience. He has published five books on theater and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, and many other publications. A two-time winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, he writes about theater on his blog, Something the Dust Said, at

THE PRODUC TION CREATIVE TEAM JULIANA CANFIELD (Kay) is a 2017 MFA graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Upon

graduation, she was cast in a recurring role on the upcoming HBO series “Succession”, produced by Adam McKay. She is proud to be making her professional NY stage debut in Theatre for a New Audience’s production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box. TOM PECINKA (Chris/Harrison Aherne). Tom is thrilled to be making his TFANA debut.

Off-Broadway: Troilus and Cressida (Shakespeare in the Park, Public), The Soldier’s Tale (Carnegie Hall), Torch Song (Second Stage). Regional: Arcadia (Yale Rep, CT Critics Circle Award nom.); Cloud 9 (Hartford Stage, CT Critics Circle nom.); A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Hartford Stage); Deathtrap, Design for Living, Cat and the Canary (Berkshire Theatre Festival); As You Like It, The Two Gentlemen of Verona (Shakespeare on the Sound). Upcoming: Suzan-Lori Parks’ Father Comes Home from the Wars (Yale Rep and ACT). BA: Fordham; MFA: Yale School of Drama. EVAN YIONOULIS (Director) has directed new plays and classics in New York, across the

country, and internationally, including Richard Greenberg’s The Violet Hour (Broadway), Three Days of Rain (OBIE Award for direction, Manhattan Theatre Club), and Everett Beekin (Lincoln Center Theater), as well as Adrienne Kennedy’s Ohio State Murders (Lortel Award for Best Revival, Theatre for a New Audience). Regionally: South Coast Repertory, Mark Taper Forum, Dallas Theater Center, the Huntington, Williamstown, and many others. She is a resident director at Yale Repertory Theatre where credits include Cymbeline, Richard II, The Master Builder, Galileo, Caryl Churchill’s Owners, and The King Stag. Princess Grace Foundation Awards recipient.

Juliana Canfield and Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

CHRISTOPHER BARRECA (Scenic Designer). Broadway: Rocky (2014 Tony, Drama Desk,

and Outer Critics Circle Awards), Search and Destroy, Our Country’s Good, Chronicle of a Death Foretold (American Theatre Wing Award). Off-Broadway: Turn Me Loose (starring Joe Morton), Athol Fugard’s Master Harold, Painted Rocks, The Train Driver, Blood Knot, Three Days of Rain (Drama Desk nom.), Neon Psalms (American Theater Wing nom.). Opera: Wole Soyinka’s Scourge of Hyacinths (BMW Award nom.) Teaching: CalArts. MONTANA LEVI BLANCO (Costume Designer). TFANA debut. Off-Broadway: The Death of

the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Lortel nom.) and In the Blood (Signature); Pipeline (LCT); Red Speedo, Nat Turner in Jerusalem (NYTW); The Last Match (Roundabout); Hamlet, Teenage Dick, Pretty Hunger (Public); O, Earth (the Foundry Theatre); and Orange Julius (Rattlestick). Regional: The Bluest Eye (Guthrie); An Octoroon (Berkeley Rep); War (Yale Rep); Measure for Measure (Santa Cruz Shakespeare/CA Shakespeare); Side Show and Our Country’s Good (Trinity Rep). Upcoming: Is God Is and Fairview (Soho Rep); Angels in America (Berkeley Rep); (Williamstown). Training: Yale School of Drama, MFA; Brown University, MA; Oberlin, BA; Oberlin Conservatory of Music, BM. DONALD HOLDER (Lighting Designer). TFANA: A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Much Ado

About Nothing, Oroonoko, The Last Letter, many others. Broadway: Over fifty productions, two Tony Awards (The Lion King and South Pacific) and twelve Tony nominations. Recent projects include: Oslo, M. Butterfly, Anastasia, She Loves Me, Fiddler On The Roof, The Father, The King and I, The Bridges of Madison County, Golden Boy, Spiderman, Ragtime, many others. Television: "Smash", seasons 1 and 2 (NBC-Dreamworks). H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 33

JUSTIN ELLINGTON (Composer & Sound Designer). Broadway: Other Desert Cities. Off-

Broadway: Pipeline (LCT); The Pride (dir. Joe Mantello); Fetch Clay, Make Man (dir. Des McAnuff); The Seven (dir. Jo Bonney); American Clock (workshop dir. Rachel Chavkin); X or Betty Shabazz vs The Nation of Islam (dir. Ian Belknap). Other theatre: Until the Flood (dir. Neel Keller), As You Like It (dir. Des McAnuff), The Mountaintop (dir. Steve Broadnax), Syncing Ink (dir. Nigel Smith), Trouble in Mind (dir. Valerie Curtis Newton), Move Act Free (dir. George C. Wolfe). Awarded by: The American Society of Composers and Publishers, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, and The Industry Film Producers Association. AUSTIN SWITSER (Video Designer) is a New York-based designer that focuses on the integration of

video and live performance. Opera: Onegin (Spoleto Festival), Trojan Women (National Changgeuk Company of Korea), Paradise Interrupted (Spoleto Festival, Lincoln Center Festival), Emilie (Lincoln Center Festival, Finnish National Opera), Facing Goya (Spoleto Festival), Tristan and Isolde (The Dallas Opera). Austin is the resident video designer for The Builders Association (Elements of Oz, Sontag: Reborn, House/Divided, Jet Lag 2010) as well as the creative director of Switser + Knight. COOKIE JORDAN (Hair & Makeup Designer). Broadway: Once On This Island, Sunday in

the Park with George, In Transit, Eclipsed, Side Show, After Midnight, Fela, A View from the Bridge. Off-Broadway: In the Blood, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World (Signature Theatre), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare in the Park). Tours: Fela (National Tour), Fela (European Tour), Dirty Dancing. Television: Emmy nominated for make-up design for The Wiz Live (NBC). NOAH MEASE (Properties Supervision). TFANA: An Octoroon. Broadway: Natasha, Pierre & the

Great Comet of 1812. Off-Broadway: Annie Baker’s John (Signature, OBIE Award for Props), Hadestown (NYTW), …Great Comet… (Kazino, A.R.T.), An Octoroon (Soho Rep.), Small Mouth Sounds (Ars Nova, Signature Center, National Tour), Streepshow! (The Tank), After the Blast (LCT3), School Girls (MCC), and multiple projects with The Debate Society. Playwriting: Omega Kids (Access Theater), Republic (JACK). Member of 2018 Ars Nova Play Group. BETH McGUIRE (Voice & Dialect Coach). Broadway: Eclipsed; Streetcar; CHAPLIN; I’ll Eat You

Last. Off-Broadway: Eclipsed, In Darfur (Public); The Overwhelming (Roundabout); The Black Eyed (NYTW); Five by Tenn (MTC); People Be Heard (Playwrights Horizons); Her Portmanteau (Black Theatre for Harlem); Imagining the Imaginary Invalid (La Mama); multiple projects at The Working Theater. Regional: over 35 productions at McCarter, Yale Rep, Hartford Stage, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Film: Queen of Katwe (for Lupita Nyong’o); Front Cover (for James Chen); Keep the Lights On (for Thure Lindhardt); Black Panther (Marvel Studios and Disney, coming 2018). Director of Speech & Dialects, Yale School of Drama. Author of African Accents: A Workbook for Actors 2016. COLE BONENBERGER (Production Stage Manager). Broadway: Dividing the Estate. Off-

Broadway: Napoli, Brooklyn (Roundabout); Linda (MTC); The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, The Comedy of Errors (Public’s Shakespeare in the Park); Aubergine, Familiar, The Qualms, Stage Kiss, The Great God Pan (Playwrights Horizons); February House, Yellowface, Wrecks (Public); Tamburlaine I & II, The Killer (TFANA); Picked (Vineyard Theatre); Night is a Room, The Liquid Plain, The Old Friends, The Dance and the Railroad, The Orphans’ Home Cycle, Landscape of the Body, and The Trip to Bountiful (Signature Theatre).


T H E AT R E F O R A N E W AU D I E N C E 36 0 ° S E R I E S

Tom Pecinka in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

SHANE SCHNETZLER (Assistant Stage Manager). TFANA: The Two Gentlemen of Verona

(Fiasco), Tamburlaine, Cymbeline (Fiasco). Off-Broadway: Napoli, Brooklyn; Look Back in Anger; The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore (Roundabout); The Profane, Rancho Viejo, Familiar (Playwrights Horizons); The Taming of the Shrew, King Lear, The Comedy of Errors (NYSF); Detroit ’67 (Public); Night is a Room, The Liquid Plain, The Old Friends (Signature); Red Dog Howls (NYTW); Uncle Vanya (Soho Rep); The Scottsboro Boys (Vineyard). J. ALLEN SUDDETH (Fight Director) is a Broadway veteran of twelve shows, over 150 Off-

Broadway shows, and hundreds of Regional Theater productions. He has staged action for over 750 television shows, and teaches at SUNY Purchase and Lee Strasberg. Allen authored a book, Fight Director For The Theatre. For TFANA, he has worked on The Skin of Our Teeth, Tamburlaine, The Killer, The Broken Heart, Henry V, Cymbeline, As You Like It, and several more. JONATHAN KALB (Dramaturg) is Professor of Theatre at Hunter College, CUNY, and

Resident Dramaturg at TFANA. He has published five books on theater and his writing has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times, The Nation, and many other publications. A two-time winner of the George Jean Nathan Award for Dramatic Criticism, he writes about theater on his blog, Something the Dust Said, at

Juliana Canfield in Theatre for a New Audience's production of He Brought Her Heart Back in a Box by Adrienne Kennedy, directed by Evan Yionoulis. Photo by Gerry Goodstein.

BLAKE ZIDELL & ASSOCIATES (Press Representative) is a Brooklyn-based public relations firm

representing artists, companies and institutions spanning a variety of disciplines. Clients include include St. Ann’s Warehouse, Soho Rep, The Kitchen, Ars Nova, BRIC, P.S.122, Abrons Arts Center, Taylor Mac, LAByrinth Theater Company, StoryCorps, Irish Arts Center, Café Carlyle, Peak Performances, Batsheva Dance Company, The Playwrights Realm, Stephen Petronio Company, The Play Company, and FIAF’s Crossing the Line Festival. JEFFREY HOROWITZ (Founding Artistic Director) began his career in theatre as an actor and

appeared on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in regional theatre. In 1979, he founded Theatre for a New Audience. Horowitz has served on the Panel of the New York State Council on the Arts and on the Board of Directors of Theatre Communications Group. He is currently on the Advisory Board of The Shakespeare Society and the Artistic Directorate of London’s Globe Theatre. He received the John Houseman Award in 2003 and The Breukelein Institute’s 2004 Gaudium Award. DOROTHY RYAN (Managing Director) joined Theatre for a New Audience in 2003.

She spent the previous ten years devoted to fundraising for the 92nd Street Y and the Brooklyn Museum. Ryan began her career in classical music artist management and has also served as company manager for Chautauqua Opera, managing director for the Opera Ensemble of New York, and general manager of Eugene Opera. She is a 2014 Brooklyn Women of Distinction honoree from Community Newspaper Group. MICHAEL PAGE (General Manager) joined Theater for a New Audience in 2013. TFANA credits

include King Lear, Pericles, Measure for Measure, Fiasco Theater’s The Two Gentlement of Verona, Soho Rep’s An Octoroon, Yale Rep’s Happy Days with Dianne Wiest, and Peter Brook’s The Valley of Astonishment. Prior to TFANA Michael was the General Manager of the Tony Awardwinning Vineyard Theatre and Managing Director of Barrow Street Theatre where he managed the US premiere of Nina Raine’s Tribes and David Cromer’s landmark production of Our Town, and Craig Wright’s Mistakes Were Made with Michael Shannon, among others. H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 35

ABOUT THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE About Theatre for a New Audience Founded in 1979 by Jeffrey Horowitz, the mission of Theatre for a New Audience is to develop and vitalize the performance and study of Shakespeare and classic drama. Theatre for a New Audience produces for audiences Off-Broadway and has also toured nationally, internationally and to Broadway. We are guided in our work by five core values: a reverence for language, a spirit of adventure, a commitment to diversity, a dedication to learning, and a spirit of service. These values inform what we do with artists, how we interact with audiences, and how we manage our organization. Theatre for a New Audience Education Programs


Founding Artistic Director Jeffrey Horowitz Managing Director Dorothy Ryan General Manager Michael Page Director of Institutional Advancement James J. Lynes Finance Director Mary Sormeley Associate Producer / Director of the Studio Susanna Gellert Associate General Manager Matthew Cleaver Theatre Manager Steven Gaultney Box Office & Subscriptions Supervisor Allison Byrum Facilities Manager Jordan Asinofsky Marketing Manager Maya Shah Education Manager Victoria Barclay Development Manager Jena Yarley Production Coordinator Joshua Kohler Finance Associate Jacob Farber Facilities Associate Rashawn Caldwell Development Associate Maggie Greene House Manager Wednesday Sue Derrico Downtown Brooklyn Arts Management Fellows Sarah Branch, Claire Kim Press Representative Blake Zidell & Associates Resident Literary Advisor Jonathan Kalb Resident Casting Director Jack Doulin + Sharky Resident Director of Voice Andrew Wade


Theatre for a New Audience is an award-winning company recognized for artistic excellence. Our education programs introduce students to Shakespeare and other classics with the same artistic integrity that we apply to our productions. Through our unique and exciting methodology, students engage in hands-on learning that involves all aspects of literacy set in the context of theatre education. Our residencies are structured to address City and State Learning Standards both in English Language Arts and the Arts, the New York City DOE’s Curriculum Blueprint for Teaching and Learning in Theater, and the Common Core Learning Standards for English Language Arts. Begun in 1984, our programs have served more than 126,000 students, ages 9 through 18, in New York City Public Schools city-wide. A New Home in Brooklyn: Polonsky Shakespeare Center After 33 seasons of award-winning and internationally-acclaimed productions, Theatre for a New Audience’s new home, Polonsky Shakespeare Center, is a centerpiece of the Brooklyn Cultural District. Designed by celebrated architect Hugh Hardy, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is the first theatre in New York designed and built expressly for classic drama since Lincoln Center’s Vivian Beaumont in the 1960s. The 27,500 square-foot facility is a unique performance space in New York. The 299-seat Samuel H. Scripps Mainstage, inspired by the Cottesloe at London’s National Theatre, combines an Elizabethan courtyard theatre with modern theatre technology that allows the stage and seating to be arranged in seven configurations. The new facility also includes the Theodore C. Rogers Studio (a 50-seat rehearsal/ performance studio), and theatrical support spaces. The City of New York-developed Arts Plaza, designed by landscape architect Ken Smith, creates a natural gathering place around the building. In addition, Polonsky Shakespeare Center is also one of the few sustainable (green) theatres in the country, with an anticipated LEED-NC Silver rating from the United States Green Building Council. Now with a home of its own, Theatre for a New Audience is contributing to the continued renaissance of Downtown Brooklyn. In addition to its season of plays, the Theatre is expanding its education and humanities offerings to include lectures and activities for families, as well as seminars, workshops, and other activities for artists, scholars, and families. When not in use by the Theatre, its new facility is available for rental, bringing much needed affordable performing and rehearsal space to the community.

T H E AT R E F O R A N E W AU D I E N C E 36 0 ° S E R I E S


Chairman: Theodore C. Rogers Vice Chairman Robert E. Buckholz President Jeffrey Horowitz Vice President and Secretary Dorothy Ryan Members Robert Arnow John Berendt* Cicely Berry, CBE, Hon. D.Lit* Sally Brody Robert E. Buckholz William H. Burgess, III Zoë Caldwell* Ben Campbell Robert Caro* Merle Debuskey* Dr. Sharon Dunn* Dr. Charlotte K. Frank Dana Ivey* John J. Kerr, Jr. Seymour H. Lesser Larry M. Loeb Catherine Maciariello* Audrey Heffernan Meyer Caroline Niemczyk Rachel Polonsky Barbara Rifkind Theodore C. Rogers Philip R. Rotner Mark Rylance* Daryl D. Smith Susan Stockel Michael Stranahan John Turturro* Kathleen C. Walsh Monica Gerard-Sharp Wambold Jane Wells Frederick Wiseman* *Artistic Council

THEATRE FOR A NEW AUDIENCE MA JOR SUPPORTERS Even with capacity audiences, ticket sales account for a small portion of our operating costs. The Theatre expresses its deepest thanks to the following Foundations, Corporations Government Agencies and Individuals for their generous support of the Theatre’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs.

The 360° Series: Viewfinders has been made possible in part by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities: Exploring the Human Endeavor. Any views, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this Viewfinder do not necessarily represent those of the National Endowment for the Humanities. A Challenge Grant from the NEH established a Humanities endowment fund at Theatre for a New Audience to support these programs in perpetuity. Leading matching gifts to the NEH grant were provided by Joan and Robert Arnow, Norman and Elaine Brodsky, The Durst Organization, Perry and Marty Granoff, Stephanie and Tim Ingrassia, John J. Kerr & Nora Wren Kerr, Litowitz Foundation, Inc., Robert and Wendy MacDonald, Sandy and Stephen Perlbinder, The Prospect Hill Foundation, Inc., Theodore C. Rogers, and from purchasers in the Theatre’s Seat for Shakespeare Campaign. Theatre for a New Audience’s Humanities, Education, and Outreach programs are supported, in part, by The Elayne P. Bernstein Education Fund. For more information on naming a seat or making a gift to the Education or Humanities endowments, please contact James Lynes, Director of Institutional Advancement, at 212-229-2819 x29, or by email at Theatre for a New Audience’s productions and education programs receive support from the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature; and from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Additional funding is provided by the generosity of the following Foundations and Corporations through either general operating support or direct support of the Theatre’s arts in education programs: PRINCIPAL BENEFACTORS

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Booth Ferris Foundation Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP (pro bono support) The Hearst Foundations National Endowment for the Humanities New York City Department of Cultural Affairs The Polonsky Foundation The SHS Foundation The Winston Foundation LEADING BENEFACTORS

Bloomberg Philanthropies Deloitte LLP The Shubert Foundation, Inc. The Starr Foundation The Harold and Mimi Steinberg Charitable Trust The Thompson Family Foundation MAJOR BENEFACTORS

The Sidney E. Frank Foundation Hearst King & Spalding LLP Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP Latham & Watkins LLP New York State Council on the Arts The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation Shakespeare in American Communities, a program of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with Arts Midwest Stavros Niarchos Foundation


Anonymous (2) The Howard Bayne Fund Consolidated Edison Company of New York, Inc. Debevoise & Plimpton LLP Jean and Louis Dreyfus Foundation, Inc. The Dubose and Dorothy Heyward Memorial Fund The Geen Family Foundation Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP The J.M. Kaplan Fund The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation Loeb & Loeb LLP Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison May and Samuel Rudin Foundation, Inc. / Fiona and Eric Rudin Select Equity Group Sidley Austin LLP Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP The Tow Foundation PRODUCERS CIRCLE— THE ARTISTIC DIRECTOR’S SOCIETY

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, LLP Axe-Houghton Foundation The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation Hughes, Hubbard & Reed LLP Litowitz Foundation, Inc. Macy’s Mayer, Brown, Rowe & Maw LLP Morgan, Lewis, & Bockius LLP

Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP Troy Chemical Corporation Michael Tuch Foundation, Inc. Wells Fargo Bank PRODUCERS CIRCLE—EXECUTIVE

Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo, NY City Council Discretionary Funding Barbara Bell Cumming Charitable Trust The Bulova Stetson Fund DeWitt Stern Group, Inc. The Joseph & Sally Handleman Foundation Trust A The Irving Harris Foundation Marta Heflin Foundation Lucille Lortel Foundation The Bulova Stetson Fund PRODUCERS CIRCLE—ASSOCIATE

Actors’ Equity Foundation, Inc. Calamos Wealth Management The Norman D. and Judith H. Cohen Foundation EMM Wealth Management Forest City Ratner Companies Kinder Morgan Foundation Lucille Lortel Foundation Laurie M. Tisch Illumination Fund Wiggin and Dana LLP

H E B R O U G H T H E R H E A R T B A C K I N A B OX 37

W W W . T FA N A . O R G


360° Viewfinder Series are web-based resources accompanying each production that explore facts and perspectives on each play, playwright, an...


360° Viewfinder Series are web-based resources accompanying each production that explore facts and perspectives on each play, playwright, an...