Out of the Box Theatre Company is set to produce
Deep Are the Roots, directed by French.
May 4th through 8th, West End Theatre.
Arthur French is a recipient of 2015 prestigious Paul Robeson Citation Award. The award, established in honor of the late actor and Civil Rights activist Paul Robeson, is meant to recognize individuals and organizations that best exemplify the principles by which Robeson lived his life; namely, a dedication to freedom of expression and respect for human dignity regardless of race or nationality.
French is also the recipient of a 1997 Obie Award for Sustained Excellence and a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Featured Actor, with which he was presented for his performance in Two Trains Running at the Signature Theater Company in 2006.
Arthur French initially thought the story in Deep Are the Roots, the play he is directing for Out of the Box Theatre, was just an old chestnut. He changed his mind.
“This play tackles race relations in post-World War II and was written 71 years ago, yet it is not an old chestnut, which was my original thought. Race relations are just as relevant now as they were when this play opened on Broadway. We are still tackling issues surrounding race in our country, and this play serves as a reminder of that, crystallizing how it still remains a dominant challenge today,” said Arthur French.
During the week of May 4th through 8th, Out of the Box, will meet the topic of race relations head on with the production of Deep Are the Roots, a play highlighting segregation in the Deep South, post-World War II.
Deep Are the Roots will be performed at the West End Theatre at 263 West 86th Street, New York, NY. The performances will be Wednesday through Friday, 8 p.m., Saturday 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sunday at 3 p.m.
Deep Are the Roots, written by Arnaud d’Usseau and James Gow, made its Broadway debut in 1945 under the direction of Elia Kazan and ran 477 performances.
Decorated African-American U.S. Army lieutenant Brett Charles comes home and attempts to re-enter his small community in the Deep South at the end of World War II. Having been in command overseas – respected and treated as an equal – Brett resists being “put in his place” in his segregated hometown. Although Alice Langdon, a daughter of a conservative U.S. Senator, believes in Brett and hopes and encourages him to go to college in the north, Brett wants to stay in his hometown, looking to make a difference. Brett and Genevra, Alice’s younger sister, fall in love as the play’s story unfolds, dividing the family with those who still support and go along with segregation and those looking to stand up to it.
Deep Are the Roots’ playwrights, Arnaud d’Usseau and James Gow, often worked together, having produced Tomorrow the World, a thriller, and The Legend of Sarah, a comedy.
D’Usseau appeared before the McCarthy committee in 1953 and was blacklisted as a Communist sympathizer. He refused to testify before the Committee and eventually moved to Europe, writing screenplays under pseudonyms. He returned to the United States and taught at New York University. Gow was also a screenwriter, producing Moonlight in Hawaii, Bunker Bean, Murder on a Bridle Path, and I Dream Too Much.
The production’s music, under the direction of Lin Snider, will consist of a small ensemble singing familiar popular songs from the south with piano, banjo, and guitar. Some of the songs will be “Oh, Susanna,” “Tennesee Waltz” and “Carolina in the Morning.”
The cast for this Equity Showcase production includes Jessica Bonder (Genevra Langdon), Damien Bosco* (Deputy Bob Izay), Jocelyn Druyan* (Alice Langdon), Jeffrey Feller (Deputy Chuck Warren), Kelly Gilmore (Roy Maxwell), James Harter* (Senator Langdon), Grant Machan* (Howard Merrick), Gloria Sauvé* (Bella Campbell), David Lloyd Walters* (Sheriff Serkin), Augustus Wilson (Brett Campbell), Cooki Winborn* (Honey), . The six musical performers include Susan Case,* Eric Benjamin Gordon (banjo), Colleen Kennedy,* William Lyon Lee, Aaron Scott*, and Sally Sherwood,* with musical director Lin Snider* on piano. Grace Peñaranda* is the stage manager.
*Appearing courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association
Tickets may be purchased online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/2530393, or by calling Out of the Box office at 347-609-3212.
About Out of the Box Theatre Company:
Out of the Box Theater company features working professionals at their peak and in their prime: seasoned actors, directors and designers primarily past 50 years of age; donates complimentary tickets to senior patrons through various organizations throughout New York City; presents new interpretations of period plays and contemporary classics: works written in the last century and earlier; and scores each production with musical compositions that enhance mood, moment and mise-en-scène.
Out of the Box Theatre Company was founded in 2006 by artistic director Scott Robinson. Scott’s goal for the group’s Equity showcase productions was to provide opportunity and freedom for artists to work outside the restrictions of age, race, sex, and disability and inside the sphere of passion. He also conceived of scoring the plays with live musical performances to enhance the mood and as between-scenes entertainment.
Out of the Box’s first production, in 2007, was Molière’s The Miser underscored and interspersed with the music of Mozart, among others. In 2008, for its second season, OOtB offered W.F. Pratt’s temperance melodrama Ten Nights in a Bar-Room, with musical olios utilizing popular songs of the 1890s.
The company’s third season, in 2009, consisted of two evenings of one-act plays: Sorry, Wrong Number by Lucille Fletcher, Hello from Bertha by Tennessee Williams, Crawling Arnold by Jules Feiffer, and Hello Out There by William Saroyan.
2010 brought an exciting production of Rain by John Colton and Clemence Randolph, based on the famous short story by W. Somerset Maugham. In the fifth season, in 2011 OOtB offered a staged reading of Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology in Charles Aidman’s adaptation. The sixth season, 2012, brought a change of pace with a more contemporary play, Neil Simon’s comedy 45 Seconds from Broadway.
For its seventh season, OOtB offered two shows for the first time: an enormously successful production of Separate Tables in the fall 2013 and a staged reading of The Hollow Crown in the spring of 2014.
The company’s eighth season production was Brian Friel’s tragi-comedy The Loves of Cass McGuire.
Scott Robinson was diagnosed with cancer in December 2010 and died April 24, 2011. The company lovingly dedicates its performances to his memory and thanks its audiences and supporters for helping keep Scott’s vision alive.