An ordinary ride on the subway becomes an explosive exploration of modern-day race relations in West Virginia University School of Theatre and Dance’s LAB Theatre production of Amiri Baraka’s “Dutchman” coming to the Creative Arts Center, April 4-6.
The performances will be held in the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre and are free and open to the public.
In “Dutchman,” a Caucasian woman, Lula, sits next to an African-American man, Clay, on the subway and begins to aggressively flirt with him. But her manipulating quickly turns to browbeating, as she needles Clay about his supposed complacency over race issues and tries to shock him into violent action.
This controversial play was originally produced in 1964. Student director Max Gould has updated “Dutchman” for the present day.
Gould is a sophomore studying for a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre, and this is his second directing project.
The play features WVU students Maggie Dransfield as Lula and Kevin Langue as Clay.
“When I first read the play I knew that I wanted to direct it,” Gould said. “It’s an extremely important show and I knew that in directing it I would not only spread the message of a wonderful playwright, but at the same time learn a lot myself.
“Working with actors Kevin and Maggie on this show has taught me so much about these two different groups of people.”
The late New Jersey poet turned activist Amiri Baraka (who originally published “Dutchman” under his birth name, LeRoi Jones) passed away on January 9, 2014. Other works by the acclaimed playwright include “The Slave” and “A Black Mass.”
Resident Artist Professor Jim Knipple is the director of the WVU LAB Theatre Program and has brought some fresh ideas to the table about how students can be involved in producing their own theater, providing even more creative opportunities within the School of Theatre and Dance. This performance of “Dutchman” originated as a class assignment in his Text Analysis class.
WVU LAB Theatre is student-produced and student-driven, with the students embracing limitation as the gateway to innovation. The budget for the program is kept purposely low, and in turn, the program gives students unlimited freedom with their creativity and imaginations.
Megan Peters is the stage manager for “Dutchman,” and lighting design is by Tyler Cooper.
The play will be performed in the Vivian Davis Michael Laboratory Theatre April 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m. and April 6 at 2 p.m.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. The show contains strong language; parental guidance is advised.
For more information on this production of “Dutchman” please visit theatre.wvu.edu, call 304-293-2020, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
CONTACT: Charlene Lattea, College of Creative Arts
Follow @WVUToday on Twitter.