Arts & Culture / Mosaic / Theater / January 28, 2009

Student’s shortened version of The Tapestry runs this weekend

After cutting down playwright Alexis De Veaux’s full-length play from a cast of eight characters to a cast of only three, junior Joey Firman will put on his shortened version of The Tapestry this weekend in Studio Theater. The play will show at 7:30 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 30 and Saturday, Jan. 31, with an additional viewing of the dress rehearsal available on Thursday, Jan. 29 at 7:20 p.m. to those who cannot attend the show. It runs for a length of 45 minutes.

“Basically, it’s a 23-year-old law student living in Harlem who is four days away from taking her bar exam and the play basically traces her life in the four days up to the exam,” Firman says of the play’s basic plot outline. “While she’s studying, the main things that happen are her interactions with her best friend and her boyfriend. Thematically, [it’s about] a conflict between idealistic goals and satisfying basic needs.”

The cut-down cast consists of only three students and is also an entirely African-American cast. Junior Shanna Collins, sophomore D’Angelo Smith, and senior Krystle Liggins play all the characters in The Tapestry.

“I’ve been wanting to direct and I realized that [Visiting Instructor of Theatre] Kelly Hogan is directing Intimate Apparel in the spring with a primarily African-American cast,” Firman said, indicating that his intentions were for The Tapestry to be a small prelude to Hogan’s future piece. There is even an ad for Hogan’s play in Firman’s program, a rare occurrence. When asked why he wanted to direct The Tapestry, Firman said, “There haven’t been any African-American characters in plays since I’ve been here – maybe a couple, but they have been extremely peripheral. There have been African-American actors, but they have always played race-neutral roles.”

When he was trying to decide what play to do back in Sept., Firman went through about ten plays. He initially found one in which the protagonist was a bisexual African-American man dying of AIDS, but decided to do The Tapestry instead. “I wanted to deal with racial issues, but I thought it would be harder to find a man to play a bisexual man dying of AIDS. Instead, it’s a play about a woman who’s kicking ass.”

Though Firman went into the play with an angle, he said, “The politics of why I decided to do this have fallen by the wayside as I’ve been more absorbed into the play.”

De Veaux wrote the play in the 1970s, but the setting she writes is “now,” so Firman is hoping it translates to a modern setting.

Annie Zak


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