Slavery melodrama explores old stereotypes

By From page A8 | August 23, 2017

Actress Judith Moreland will direct Capital Stage's production of "An Octoroon," opening Aug. 30. Courtesy photo

Capital Stage launches its 2017-18 season, Future Tense, with the Obie Award winner and Sacramento premiere of “An Octoroon” by Branden Jacob-Jenkins. This poignant adaptation of a 19th century anti-slavery melodrama will be directed by star of stage and screen and UCLA’s professor of Theatre, Film and Television, Judith Moreland.

“An Octoroon” will run Aug. 30 through Oct. 1 at the theater, 2215 J St. in Sacramento.

Judge Peyton is dead and his plantation Terrebonne is in financial ruins. Peyton’s handsome nephew George arrives as heir apparent and quickly falls in love with Zoe, a beautiful octoroon. But the evil overseer M’Closky has other plans-for both Terrebonne and Zoe. In 1859 a famous Irishman wrote “The Octoroon,” a melodrama about slavery in America. Now an American tries to write his own.

“‘An Octoroon’ invites us to laugh loudly and easily at how naïve the old stereotypes now seem, until nothing seems funny at all … Mr. Jacobs-Jenkins is using a genre associated with exclamation points to ask questions not only about the portrayal of race in America but also about the inadequate means we have for such portrayals.” — The New York Times

Jacobs-Jenkins’ plays include “Everybody” (Signature Theater), “Neighbors” (Public Theater), “An Octoroon” (Soho Rep, OBIE Award for Best New Play), “Appropriate” (Signature Theater, OBIE Award for Best New Play, Outer Critics Circle nominee), “Gloria” (Vineyard Theater, 2015) and “War” (Yale Rep, forthcoming). His plays have been performed at such venues as Lincoln Center Theatre/LCT3, Soho Rep, the Public Theatre, Yale Repertory Theatre, Actors Theater of Louisville, Center Theatre Group, Victory Gardens Theatre, Woolly Mammoth Theater, The Matrix Theater, CompanyOne, Theater Bielefeld in Germany and the HighTide Festival in the UK. He is currently a Residency Five playwright at Signature Theatre and master-artist-in-residence in the Playwriting MFA program of Hunter College, City University of New York. Other honors include a 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, the Paula Vogel Award, a Fulbright Arts Grant, a Helen Merrill Award, the Dorothy Strelsin playwriting fellowship and the inaugural Tennessee Williams Award. He is a Princeton alum from the Class of 2006, holds an MFA in Performance Studies from NYU and is a graduate of the Lila Acheson Wallace American Playwrights Program at Juilliard.

Director Moreland teaches acting at the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television. She is a seasoned actress who has performed both on and Off-Broadway and has worked with many theater companies including the New York Shakespeare Festival, Playwrights Horizons, Ensemble Studio Theater Los Angeles and Shakespeare Festival/LA. Additionally, she was a company member of San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater for many years.

Moreland won an Ovation Award for her performance in the Fountain Theater’s production of “Miss Julie” and a Bay Area Theater Critics Award for her performance in American Conservatory Theater’s production of “Miss Evers’ Boys.”

Her film and television credits include “CSI: Cyber,” “Dark Skies,” “Eagle Eye,” “Parenthood,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Parks and Recreation,” “The Crazy Ones,” “The Big Bang Theory,” “The Mentalist” and “Castle.” She has taught at Stanford University, American Conservatory Theater, the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and Oxford University for the British American Drama Academy.

Moreland received a bachelor of arts degree in human biology from Stanford University and an MFA from American Conservatory Theater.

Capital Stage’s production of “An Octoroon” will feature Alexandra Barthel, Lexy Fridell (Capital Stage debut), Willem Long, Tiffanie Mack , Carissa Meagher, Matt K. Miller, David Everett Moore (Capital Stage debut), Taylor Vaughan (Capital Stage debut) and Juan Chavez (Capital Stage debut). The production design team will include Timothy McNamara (lighting design), Gail Russell (costume design), Eric Broadwater (scenic design), Emi Teixeira (properties design), Ed Lee (sound design), Graham Sobelman (music director), Shannon Mahoney (choreographer) and Matt K. Miller (fight director).

Performances for “An Octoroon” will begin with three previews at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30, and Thursday, Aug. 31, and 8 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 1. The production will open at 8 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 2, and performances continue through Sunday, Oct. 1. Showtimes will be 7 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays, 2 and 8 p.m. on Saturdays and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Regular ticket prices range from $28 to $45. Discount tickets are available as follows: Student Rush tickets are half priced with valid student ID within one hour of performance; senior tickets are $5 off regular priced tickets; military personnel tickets are $10 off regular priced tickets with valid ID; and group rate tickets are $5 off each for parties of 12 or more. Tickets are currently available at the Capital Stage box office, by phone at (916) 995-5464 or online at capstage.org.

Capital Stage


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