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Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Redwood’s The Old Settler replaces Wilson’s Fences

Alexandria: March 1, 2008— City Park Players announces a change in its 60th Anniversary Season. The second of its five offerings, The Old Settler by John Henry Redwood, replaces Fences by August Wilson due to unavoidable scheduling conflicts with key cast members. Production dates remain the same for The Old Settler, April 17–27, at the Bringhurst Park Theatre.

“The Old Settler has long been on our short list of desired productions and we lose no degree of quality with its presentation,” said Ed Reed, CPP board president. “Although we regret that we cannot bring Fences to our community at this time, we believe our audiences will enjoy this award-winning production equally as much. City Park Players is committed to bringing the very best theater to Central Louisiana and the production of Redwood’s The Old Settler continues in that vein.”

The Old Settler received the 1998 American Theater Critics Award and was cited by American Theater magazine as one of the 10 most-produced plays in the United States for the 1999 and 2000 seasons, among other honors.

Professor Sh’riff Hasan of New Orleans will direct The Old Settler.

About the Play—Definitely Not a Western
Despite its name, The Old Settler could not be more unlike the old, old west. Set in 1943, the story involves two middle-age sisters—the elder a spinster, the younger recently separated from her husband-—living in a bustling, jazzy Harlem during the waning days of the Harlem Renaissance. When a strapping young man fresh from the backwoods of South Carolina takes a room as a boarder in their apartment, old hurts and new tensions surface between the two sisters as romance brews between the older sister and the handsome newcomer. The major tension of the play revolves around the choice the young man must make between his mature, church-going new love and his worldly and much younger girlfriend, whom he came to Harlem to pursue. The play takes its name from a line in the play: “An Old Settler is what folks up here call a woman pushing forty who hasn’t been married and don’t have any prospects,” as explained by the feisty younger sister to her sibling’s young beau. And, as the saying goes, “the plot thickens” as the audience learns just how deeply two sisters can hurt as well as love one another.

About the Director
In a career spanning more than thirty years, Sh’riff Hasan has built a formidable reputation in the theatre. An accomplished actor and seasoned director, Hasan has received accolades for his work on and in front of the stage, having applied his craft in hundreds of works.
A native of New Orleans, Hasan graduated from Tuskegee Institute and the Los Angeles City College Theatre Academy and earned the master of fine arts degree in theatre from the California Institute of the Arts. He has taught humanities, public speaking, and theatre arts at a number of universities, including Southern University of New Orleans, Dillard University, Tuskegee Institute, and Grambling University. He currently serves as Mentor/Artist in Residence with Young Audiences of New Orleans and can be seen in his one-man show, entitled A Meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

About the Playwright
John Henry Redwood was born in Brooklyn, New York in 1943. An ex-Marine, Redwood earned a PhD in Religion and appeared on Broadway in a Guys and Dolls revival and The Piano Lesson by August Wilson. He also appeared in numerous regional productions, including a one-man show entitled Paul Robeson, in which he depicted the baritone-voiced thespian, athlete, Rhodes scholar, and statesman. He turned to playwriting to create roles for himself and other African American actors. He died in 2003.

Redwood was best known for No Niggers, No Jews, No Dogs, a dramatic commentary on racism and anti-Semitism in America, and The Old Settler, the bittersweet romantic comedy about a woman facing spinsterhood in 1940s Harlem and for which he gained national recognition. His other plays include Mark VIII:xxvi, winner of the 1986 AUDELCO Award for Best Play; A Sunbeam, recipient of the McDonald’s Literary Achievement Award; Acted Within Proper Departmental Procedure; and several one-acts. Redwood was named the recipient of the 2001 Family Foundation Drama Award for Southern Literature.

A premiere community theater, City Park Players is committed to offering quality cultural activities and experiences to the entire Central Louisiana community through live theater productions, programming, and education.


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