5 & Dime's "Spunk", ReImagining Zora Neal Hurston!

March 21, 2012 3 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

As MetroJacksonville readers know, the Harlem Renaissance was deeply influenced by the characters from Jacksonville's LaVilla district. One of those colossal figures, Zora Neal Hurston lived and worked here, and partially edited her amazing work "Turpentine'". This weekend, the verdant, earthy language of Zora Neale Hurston (Their Eyes Were Watching God) is animated through the music of the blues in three tales of love, revenge, and redemption. Adapted by George C. Wolfe and featuring musical narration composed by blues artist Chic Street Man, SPUNK brings to vivid life these remarkable short stories from the Harlem Renaissance.



PRODUCTION TEAM
Directed by LEE HAMBY
Musical Director: ALEJANDRO RODRIGUEZ
Choreographer: ALEJANDRO RODRIGUEZ
Stage Manager: SHANNON JONES
Asst Stage Manager: ABIGAIL SAENZ
Production Manager: LEE HAMBY
Marketing Coordinator: ZEINA SALAME
Web & Graphic Designer: CARYL BUTTERLEY
Educational Research: SANDRA DUNNAVANT
Photographer: MAYA ADKINS

The Crew from 5 & Dime has done it again with their upcoming staging of "Spunk", a musical play based on three short stories by Zora Neal Hurston.  

The connection to our Jacksonville history is pretty obvious considering how many years Zora lived and worked here, and the enormous influence she had on African American culture in this weird little corner of the universe.

The play was originally written and staged in the late 1980s, by one of the more interesting lights of off-broadway theatre, George Wolfe who won a Tony for directing the original stage version of Angels in America by Tony Kushner.

Zora isn't the only figure from Jacksonville's amazing past that he has created performances around.  He also did "Jelly's Last Jam" about Jelly Roll Morton, a blues pioneer very familiar to Jax historians.  Jelly was his ticket to national prominence in fact.

Here is what Wikipedia has to say about him:

Quote
George Costello Wolfe (born September 23, 1954) is an American playwright and director of theater and film. He won a Tony Award in 1993 for directing Angels in America: Millennium Approaches and another Tony Award in 1996 for his direction of the musical, Bring in 'da Noise/Bring in 'da Funk.

Career

In 1977, Wolfe gave C. Bernard Jackson, the executive director of the Inner City Cultural Center in the Los Angeles, the first scene of a play he was working on. Rather than suggest that he finish writing it, Jackson said, "Here's some money, go do it." The name of the play was "Tribal Rites, or The Coming of the Great God-bird Nabuku to the Age of Horace Lee Lizer." Wolfe stated in an article he wrote about Jackson for the Los Angeles Times that "this production was perhaps the most crucial to my evolution" as an artist.

Among Wolfe's first major offerings—the musical Paradise (1985) and his play The Colored Museum (1986)--were off-Broadway productions that met with mixed reviews. In 1989, however, Wolfe won an Obie Award for best off-Broadway director for his play Spunk, an adaptation of three stories by Zora Neale Hurston.

Wolfe gained a national reputation with his 1991 musical Jelly's Last Jam, a musical about the life of jazz musician Jelly Roll Morton; after a Los Angeles opening, the play moved to Broadway, where it received 11 Tony nominations and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Book of a Musical. Two years later, Wolfe directed Tony Kushner's Angels in America: Millennium Approaches to great critical acclaim, as well as a Tony award. Wolfe also directed the world premiere of the second part of "Angels", entitled Perestroika, the following year.

From 1993 to 2004, Wolfe served as artistic director and producer of the New York Shakespeare Festival/Public Theater, where in 1996 he created the musical Bring in 'Da Noise, Bring in 'Da Funk, an ensemble of tap and music starring Savion Glover; the show moved to Broadway's Ambassador Theatre. His work won a second Tony Award for direction and was an enormous financial success.
In 2000, Wolfe co-wrote the book and directed the Broadway production The Wild Party.

In late 2004, Wolfe announced his intention to leave the theater for film direction, beginning with the well-received HBO film Lackawanna Blues.

Despite this move, Wolfe continues to direct plays, such as Tony Kushner's Caroline, or Change and Suzan-Lori Parks' Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog. In the summer of 2006, he directed a new translation of Bertolt Brecht's Mother Courage and Her Children at the Delacorte Theatre in Central Park; it starred Meryl Streep, Kevin Kline, and Austin Pendleton.

As usual the troupe is doing their usual stellar job of using theatre to educate as well as entertain.  They are providing companion lesson plans about Zora and the works the performance is based on here: http://www.the5anddime.org/downloads/KIP-2012-Spunk.pdf

The cast is composed of some of the most fantastic performers in the city, including the highly charismatic and multi talented David Girard.

The Cast


DAVID GIRARD
as Man 1, Sweet Back, Joe



ANTHONY MINCEY, JR
as Sykes, Jelly, Man, Slemmons



TARRA CONNER JONES
as Blues Speak Woman



CHELSEA LOVE HUNT
as Delia, Girl, Missie Mae



FRANK L HUMPHREY, III
as Man 2, Slang Talk Man, Boy, Clerk



CJ FLUHARTY
as Guitar Man





When, Where, and How Much?

JACKSONVILLE
MARCH 22, 23, 24 & *25
Thu, Fri, Sat 8PM & *Sun 2PM
 
LOCATION
The Episcopal Church
of the Good Shepherd
Worsham Hall (entrance on Forbes St)
1100 Stockton St, Jacksonville, FL
 
GET TICKETS
$10 in advance | $15 at door
 

 
GREEN COVE SPRINGS
SAT, MARCH 31, 2PM & 8PM
 
LOCATION
Village Improvement Association
(Green Cove Spring's Woman's Club)
17 N. Palmetto Ave
Green Cove Springs, FL
 
March 31 performances are to benefit the Green Cove Spring's Library Children's Summer Reading Program.
 
2PM : Adults $15 | Students $10
EVENING : All tickets $15*

*7PM BBQ box dinner & 8PM show
 
For ticket information contact booklady2010@hotmail.com

for more information on the show, check out the website!
http://www.the5anddime.org/productions/spunk/