Over the past year, RestorationArt has presented compelling dramas of the Black experience, some snatched from the headlines, others from history. All performances have been no less than amazing.
“Yellowman,” the fifth production which closes this season of the new, renovated Billie Holiday theatre (The Billie), offers something more in its telling of a story set against the theme of “colorism.”
The 2002 Pulitzer finalist written by Harlem born dramatist Dael Orlandersmith explores intensely a painful narrative we willfully have kept out of the spotlight. And, in doing so, under the fine direction of Timothy Douglas, delivers on the promise of RestorationArt’s visionary executive director Dr. Indira Etwaroo: to not present to the community great art for the sake of great art, but also with the purpose of audience engagement and immersion in conversation.
Actors Jessica Frances Dukes (Alma) and Tyrone Mitchell Henderson (Eugene), both deliver, with outstanding must-see and must-experience, multi-leveled performances, hopefully on the way to Audelco and Obie recognition.
Of note Hollis King, The Billie’s creative director, once again begins the conversation around the play’s theme, as he has done for previous productions: in the theatre lobby.
King’s brilliant Restoration installation/exhibition, “The Color Bag,” nails “Yellowman’s” leitmotif in a most interesting and daring way (as seen on these pages). So, the conversation about “Yellowman” will keep going long after audiences leave The Billie for home.
Indeed, home is what The Billie IS about; a place where our stories and ourselves are on stage. In the case of “Yellowman,” alongside Dukes and Henderson and, to the production staff’s credit, some interesting props” two chairs and a “window blind” looking to this writer like a huge abstraction of a flag minus stars, stripes and … color. But that’s enough for now.
An Our Time Press-tinted expansion on “Yellowman” is forthcoming. It’s in production at The Billie, 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn (near Marcy) through May 20. Missing it is like missing out on stage-history-in-the-making.
Tickets range from $25 – $65, additional information at 866-811-4111 or www.thebillieholiday.org