New York — Danya Teimore was jazz. It was late July, when the theater director had just cracked the August Wilson Theater on Broadway after months of tranquility and silence.
She soaked it all, checked the stage and fine-tuned the plan. Taymor is tasked with leading the first play on Broadway, “Passover,” since the pandemic shut down.
“This play is the right play to reopen Broadway. It helps to lead the way in so many ways,” she said. “I wouldn’t have dreamed of dedicating the space after this plague with something rich, deep, and ultimately sensational, like’by the way’. “
As the play moved to its first preview on Wednesday, the cast and crew provided a historic momentary take, from the first greeting to the first outfit fitting and the first rehearsal.
Stage director Cody Leonard Richard said, “Overall, after a year of transformation and stepping into the show, I think everyone is fully demonstrating themselves. The energy is definitely clear. That’s it. “
The playwright Antoinette Chinonier Nuwandu’s play tells the story of two black friends, Moses and Kitch, who are stuck on an urban street corner between childhood and masculine. They dream of turning the corner and passing by to a paradise where they imagine a world full of caviar, clean socks and the new Air Jordan.
The days blend in and two white characters visit. A lost dark motivated man and a brutal cop demanding his hands behind him. “Come on, boy, you know the drill,” he says. Tell them.
Reciting Samuel Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot” story of the Bible’s Exodus, the play, informed by the death of Traybon Martin, is structural racism, police atrocities, and economic determinism. Is exploring. “We haven’t been chosen,” Moses sadly tells his friend.
The Bruce Springsteen show was the first to be held on Broadway since the shutdown began, but “Passover” is the first play. Like the boss, it will be an early test of Broadway’s COVID-19 precautions — vaccines and masks needed by the audience.
The cast that brings it to Broadway is the same as the one that starred in the production at Lincoln Center a few years ago: John Michael Hill as Moses, Namir Smallwood as Kitch, and Gabriel Ebert as both white characters. .. All three say their work has deepened in the meantime, especially since the death of George Floyd by a white police officer.
“I know what I did last time was special, and I think I can make something more special,” Ebert said. “We can take every job to another level.”
The world has changed since the last play — and so has the play. Nwandu plans revisions throughout, especially at the end. In past works, policemen kill Moses. In the Broadway version, he doesn’t.
“The text is adjusted, modified, deepened and refined for the moment,” said Tymore, who made his Broadway debut this time, directing three of the five iterations of the play.
Broadway’s “passover” admits that Floyd’s death did the same, if the previous version served as an awakening call to Americans to see a system of injustice and atrocities. Now the playwright is looking to the future.
“She imagines something that doesn’t exist but may exist,” Taymor said. “She envisions a way forward. I think that’s what we really need right now.”
The first pandemic meeting of the cast and crew took place on July 7th at Bella Abu Garcia Park on the West Side of Manhattan, socially distant outdoors. The next day, the first rehearsal took place in the studio at the Barishnikov Arts Center. Participants explained that it was like the first day of school or riding a bicycle.
“I think everyone has returned to the play hoping to keep an eye on new things,” Hill said after leaving the first rehearsal. “It was electricity.”
The costume was also reconsidered. Designer Sarafina Bush, dressed in characters other than Broadway, has created new costumes and colors for Moses and Kitch, brightening them for characters that the audience wants to see as men rather than thugs.
“We wanted the costumes to bring out their inner joy, so when it comes to tones and palettes of colors, it’s very different from what everyone has seen before,” she said.
The cast and crew adhere to pandemic requirements. Everything is tested on a regular basis and a mask is required during breaks and in common areas, but it can be removed on stage.
“Not only do we show that we can lead the assault from the pandemic and rehearse safely, but we are all taking precautions very seriously and becoming a beacon for people to follow. We are doing it, “Ebert said.
No one escaped to the August Wilson Theater, where “Passover” was named after the respected Chronicler of the black experience on stage. Today, black playwrights are doing the same in 2021.
“We pay tribute to the ghosts in the theater with us and the heritage of the theater. We are excited to step into the space and dance in those spirits,” Evert said. ..
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