The Denver Center for the Performing Arts Blog

Posts tagged black odyssey

Page to Stage video highlights: Kim Staunton with John Moore

Who doesn’t need an hour with Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton in their lives? No one. Next best thing: Seven minutes of highlights from our hour with Kim Staunton at the Tattered Cover Bookstore.

Staunton is an open-hearted actress is known for leaving blood on the floor while playing tough roles such as Blanche in “A Streetcar Named Desire,” Rose in “Fences” and Mama Nadi in “Ruined.”

How did they do that? Ulysses’ drowning in ‘black odyssey’

By John Moore

It’s an awesome theatrical moment: In the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world premiere of black odyssey, the vindictive god Paw Sidin (Poseidon) has tossed his nephew Uysses into the ocean to drown. Disguised as a modern-day Naval officer, Paw Sidin hands Ulysses’ wife, Nella Pee, a ship in a bottle, through which she looks across time and space to see her beloved flailing in the water. But the audience can’t see into the bottle. 

Instead, director Chay Yew and Denver Center resident video designer Charlie Miller cover the stage floor with a gigantic motion projection showing actor Jason Bowen, dressed in modern-day combat fatigues, struggling in the water, air bubbles bursting from his mouth to the surface. 

How did they do it?

Director Chay Yew: Think of “black odyssey” as “Field of Dreams”

By John Moore

Chay Yew, director of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “black odyssey,” understands the “Hyphenated American” — he even wrote a collection of plays by that name. Born in Singapore and now running the Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago, Yew is perhaps uniquely situated to understand other hyphenated Americans whose stories remain half-told … and half-heard.

“We have so much catching up to do,” said Yew. “We have so much to learn.”

Because of the country’s rapidly changing ethnic makeup, Yew said, “Race is no longer that siloed here. To be an American is a reflection of all of its diversities.” Or should be.

Video: How to turn scrap into a Superfly Convertible Coupe de Ville

By John Moore

How did they do that?

It took a month and almost 300 crew hours for the Denver Center Theatre Company tech team to convert an oversized 1972 Cadillac into a modified Superfly Coupe de Ville — that could fit into the Space Theatre for the world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s black odyssey, playing through Feb. 16. And we saw it all. … OK, most of it. Enjoy this fun peek into a part of the playmaking process you’d never expect.

Video by John Moore, with Assistant Technical Director Josh Prues. Thanks: Louis Fernandez, Charlie Dallas, Jana Mitchell, Chay Yew, Bob Orzolek, Lisa Orzolek, Rachel Ducat, Paul Behrhorst and the entire Denver Center tech shop.

Black odyssey plays daily except for Mondays in the Space Theatre, Call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center ticketing page.

Photos: Opening Night of ‘Hamlet’

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Hamlet, played by Aubrey Deeker, and director Kent Thompson.

By John Moore

Thursday night was the opening performance of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Hamlet,” set here in the environs of a crumbling World War I, where carnage both human and structural is strewn everywhere.

The cast features Aubrey Deeker as Hamlet, Amelia Pedlow as Ophilia, Kathleen McCall as Gertrude, Peter Simon Hilton as Claudius, John Hutton as King Hamlet’s Ghost, Shawn Fagan as Horatio, Jacob H. Knoll as Laertes, and a company that includes Anthony Bianco, Douglas Harmsen, Jeffrey Roark, Philip Pleasants, Benjamin Bonenfant, Michael Keyloun, Rodney Lizcaino, Stephanie Cozart, James O’Hagan-Murphy and Mackenzie Paulsen. The director is Kent Thompson.

"Hamlet" plays through Feb. 23 in the Stage Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or click here for ticket information. All photos by John Moore.

Video: Meet Kim Staunton, who still misses director Israel Hicks ‘every day’

In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 51: Meet the esteemed Kim Staunton, who most recently appeared in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s “Fences” last season. She is now playing three roles in the world-premiere drama, “black odyssey.” Marcus Gardley inventively recasts Homer’s “The Odyssey” as a means to bridge generations of black history. It performs through Feb. 16 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 3 minutes, 45 seconds.

Note: KIm Staunton will be John Moore’s guest for an hour of conversation at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 28, at our next LoDo Page 2 Stage event. It’s free and open to the public. Click here for more information.

By John Moore

It has been three years since the death of Israel Hicks, but Denver Center Theatre Company actor Kim Staunton still misses the renowned director every day.

Many Denver Center audiences know Hicks made history with the Denver Center Theatre Company in 2009, when he became the first director in the world to helm August Wilson’s entire 10-play, 10-decade exploration of the black experience in America for the same theater company. Staunton was cast by Hicks in many of those Denver Center productions. But most don’t know Staunton’s association with Hicks actually goes all the way back to high school.

Video: “The Denver Center is United in Orange: Go, Broncos!

The casts and crews of the Denver Center Theatre Company’s current shows wish the Denver Broncos victory in their upcoming Super Bowl battle with the Seattle Seahawks. Video by John Moore.  

Photos: Opening night of ‘black odyssey’

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Dr. Vincent G. Harding (center), civil-rights leader, teacher, scholar, engaged citizen, and seeker, is especially noted for his decades of social justice work, as well as his close association with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He is joined by “black odyssey” playwright Marcus Gardley, left, and director Chay Yew. Other opening-night guests included Art Jones and artist.

By John Moore

Last night was the opening performance of the world premiere play black odyssey by Marcus Gardley. This Denver Center Theatre Company commission uses Homer’s The Odyssey as a framework for exploring generations of African-American history up to the present day. The cast includes Jason Bowen, Tony Todd, Cleavant Derricks, Kim Staunton, Eric Lockley, Brenda Pressley, Shamika Cotton, Eugene Fleming and Sequoiah Hippolyte, and plays through Feb. 16 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Photos by John Moore.

Meet the cast video series: Eric Lockley

In this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 50: Meet Eric Lockley, who is making his Denver Center debut as Malachai and Poly’famous in the Denver Center Theatre Company’s world-premiere drama, “black odyssey.” It plays through Feb. 16 in the Space Theatre. Marcus Gardley inventively recasts Homer’s “The Odyssey” as a means to bridge generations of black history. Call 303-893-4100 or go to www.denvercenter.org. Video by John Moore. Run time: 1 minute, 50 seconds.

Coming next: Meet Kim Staunton of “black odyssey.”

Previous episodes:

It’s opening night of ‘black odyssey’!

We’re putting all the pieces in place for tonight’s opening performance of the world premiere play black odyssey. This Denver Center commission uses Homer’s The Odyssey as a framework for exploring generations of African-American history up to the present day. It stars Tony Todd, Cleavant Derricks and Kim Staunton and plays through Feb. 16 in the Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or go to the Denver Center’s ticketing page. Photo by John Moore. To see our production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen, click here.

Denver Center video: Five minutes, three plays in rehearsal … all at once

When the Denver Center Theatre Company opens three shows on three successive Thursdays, audiences may not realize that means all three productions are in rehearsal simultaneously. And this time, two of those three shows are world premieres: The Legend of Georgia McBride and black odyssey, along with Hamlet. We chose a random five-minute rehearsal window to take viewers on a tour showing them what is going on behind all of those closed doors … at the same time. Video by John Moore.

Tony Todd: “Candyman” clamps his hook into Denver Center stage

Meet the cast, episode 49: Tony Todd, star of “Candyman” and “Platoon” is making his Denver Center debut in the world-premiere drama, “black odyssey,” playing Jan. 17 through Feb. 16.

By John Moore

Whether commanding the silver screen or stalking the stage, Tony Todd always seems larger than life.

To moviegoers, Todd was loved and loathed as The Candyman, a murderous soul with a hook for a hand. In the Denver Center Theatre Company’s new world-premiere play black odyssey, Todd’s 6-foot-5 frame and menacing voice strike fear into the hearts of gods and audiences alike as he declares to Deus, “As long as (my son) is in pain, so will your great nephew, Ulysses!”

Todd plays Paw Sidin, god of the sea and king of the fish. That’s pronounced “Poseidon” (get it?) in Marcus Gardley’s inventive reimagining of Homer’s classic, “The Odyssey.”

What exactly is happening here? All we can tell you for now is that there is some beautiful and evocative work going on behind the scenes in preparation for the Denver Center Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere staging of “black odyssey” that you are simply going to have to see to believe. Written by Marcus Gardley and directed by the acclaimed Chay Yew, this re-imagining of Homer’s “The Odyssey” centers on a black soldier returning home from a harrowing tour in Afghanistan. It fuses modern reality, humor and song with ancient myth. It opens Jan. 17 in the Space Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

What exactly is happening here? All we can tell you for now is that there is some beautiful and evocative work going on behind the scenes in preparation for the Denver Center Theatre Company’s upcoming world premiere staging of “black odyssey” that you are simply going to have to see to believe. Written by Marcus Gardley and directed by the acclaimed Chay Yew, this re-imagining of Homer’s “The Odyssey” centers on a black soldier returning home from a harrowing tour in Afghanistan. It fuses modern reality, humor and song with ancient myth. It opens Jan. 17 in the Space Theatre. Photo by John Moore.

"black odyssey" playwright Marcus Gardley: What’s Past Is Present


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With his play black odyssey, Marcus Gardley has chosen an abiding Greek myth to enlighten us on the modern tribulations of an African American Ulysses

BY DOUGLAS LANGWORTHY

Every element of Marcus Gardley’s plays are infused with his poetic voice. Be it his titles (the road weeps, the well runs dry), his heightened language or his stage directions (He guides the cane to a star. It burns like a comet), there is no mistaking the poet in the playwright.

Gardley started his career writing poetry and has expanded his poetic style through his dramatic writing. In fact, all of his favorite playwrights are also poets. So what is a director supposed to do with a stage direction like the example given above?

3 Plays, 3 Photos, 1 Day at the Denver Center

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The continuing transformation of a blue 1971 Cadillac coup deville into a gold vessel that involves shaving 32 inches off its length and 24 inches off its width just so that it will fit into the Space Theatre. We’ll be telling you how this all happens here in photos, words and video. Charlie Dallas is pictured above sending the sparks flying.

By John Moore

Audiences probably have little idea all that it takes to roll out one entirely new production after the other … for three weeks running, as the Denver Center Theatre Company will do on Jan. 10, 17 and 24 with world premieres of “The Legend of Georgia McBride,” “black odyssey” and the Shakespeare classic “Hamlet.” Here’s a quick peek behind the scenes of what’s been going in here on one day in December so that there will be new shows for you to see in January.