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By Pulitzer prize Winner Lynn Nottage

Chuck Smith directs this story of old Hollywood at the Goodman

 

CHICAGO, IL – Goodman Theatre Resident Director Chuck Smith directs the Chicago premiere of By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage (Ruined). In this sly satire of old Hollywood, Nottage pulls back the curtain on the glamorous movie studios of the 1930s in a work hailed as “not-to-be-missed” by Vogue and that “reminds us of Nottage’s impressive range as a dramatist” (Los Angeles Times). The cast includes Patrick Clear (Mr. Slasvick/Brad Donovan), Chiké Johnson (Leroy Barksdale/Herb), TaRon Patton (Lottie McBride/Carmen Levy-Green), Tamberla Perry (Vera Stark), Ron Rains (Maximillian Von Oster/Peter Rhys-Davies), Amelia Workman (Anna Mae Simpkins/Afua Assata Ejobo) and Kara Zediker (Gloria Mitchell). The design team includes Robert Christen (Lighting Design), Riccardo Hernandez (Set Design), Josh Horvath and Ray Nardelli (Sound Design), Mike Tutaj (Projection Design) and Birgit Rattenborg Wise (Costume Design). Joseph Drummond is the production stage manager. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark runs April 27 – June 2, 2013 in the Albert Theatre (opening night is Monday, May 6). Tickets ($25 – $81; subject to change) are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Vera, by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 North Dearborn). Goodman Theatre’s Women’s Board is the Major Production Sponsor for By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and WBEZ 91.5FM is the Media Partner. A full performance calendar and information on other special events appear below.

“I fell in love with Lynn Nottage’s work for many reasons, and I’m especially thrilled to be directing By the Way, Meet Vera Stark because I see it as a slice of American life,” said director Chuck Smith, who directed Nottage’s Crumbs from the Table of Joy at the Goodman in 2006. “This play reminds us of the plight of talented individuals who weren’t considered because of the color of their skin. That’s part of our history, and we have to tell that history.”

This “sharp-toothed comedy” (The Wall Street Journal) offers a glimpse into the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong African American actress who begins a career in the 1930s, at a time when her only shot at success lay in stealing small scenes in big Hollywood blockbusters. Seventy years later, film buffs are left to reflect on the life and legacy of this controversial star, whose eventual fame and fortune came at the price of perpetuating dangerous stereotypes. By the Way, Meet Vera Stark paints a vivid picture of the cultural climate that shaped this mysterious screen queen—and wonders who, in another time, she might have been.

“A through-line in my writing is the focus on African American women, or women from the African diaspora, who’ve been marginalized by circumstance and who are trying to assert their presence,” said playwright Lynn Nottage. “I hope that By the Way, Meet Vera Stark will open a conversation. That’s what the play was designed to do.”

Nottage’s By The Way, Meet Vera Stark made its world premiere off Broadway at Second Stage Theatre in 2011. Her Pulitzer Prize-winning play Ruined, a Goodman commission that premiered at the Goodman in 2008 and transferred to the Manhattan Theatre Club, received an Obie, Lucille Lortel, New York Drama Critics’ Circle, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play. Ruined premiered in London at the Almeida Theatre in April, 2010, and toured extensively throughout the US. Nottage is currently writing the screen adaptation for Harpo Films, Oprah Winfrey’s production company, and HBO. Her other plays include Intimate Apparel (New York Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play); Fabulation, or The Re-Education of Undine (Obie Award); Crumbs from the Table of Joy; Las Meninas; Mud, River, Stone; Por’knockers and POOF! Nottage is the recipient of the 2010 Steinberg Distinguished Playwright Award, the Dramatists Guild Hull-Warriner Award, the inaugural Horton Foote Prize for Outstanding New American Play (Ruined), the Lee Reynolds Award and the Jewish World Watch I Witness Award. Additional honors include the 2007 MacArthur Foundation “Genius Grant,” the National Black Theatre Festival’s August Wilson Playwriting Award, the 2005 Guggenheim Grant for Playwriting, the 2004 Casting Announced for By

PEN/Laura Pels Award for Drama and fellowships from the Lucille Lortel Foundation, Manhattan Theatre Club, New Dramatists and New York Foundation for the Arts.

Chuck Smith is Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director and an associate producer of Legacy Productions, a Chicago-based touring company. His Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Race, The Good Negro, Proof and The Story; the world premieres of By the Music of the Spheres and The Gift Horse; James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner, which transferred to Boston’s Huntington Theatre Company, where it won the Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best Direction; Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun; Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin’; the 1993 to 1995 productions of A Christmas Carol; Crumbs From the Table of Joy; Vivisections from a Blown Mind; and The Meeting. He served as dramaturg for the world-premiere production of August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean at the Goodman. He directed the New York premiere of Knock Me a Kiss and The Hooch for the New Federal Theatre and the world premiere of Knock Me a Kiss at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theater, where his other directing credits include Master Harold and the Boys, Home, Dame Lorraine with the late Esther Rolle and Eden, for which he received a Jeff Award nomination for Best Director. Regionally, Smith directed Wole Soyinka’s Death and the King’s Horseman at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Birdie Blue at Seattle Repertory Theatre, The Story at Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Blues for an Alabama Sky at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival and The Last Season for The Robey Theatre Company in Los Angeles. At Columbia College he was facilitator of the Theodore Ward Prize playwriting contest for 20 years and editor of the contest anthologies Seven Black Plays and Best Black Plays. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay Crime of Innocence and was theatrical director for the Emmy Award-winning Fast Break to Glory and the Emmy Award-nominated The Martin Luther King Suite. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff Award-nominated Suspenders and the Jeff Award-winning musical Po’. He is a 2003 inductee into the Chicago State University Gwendolyn Brooks Center’s Literary Hall of Fame and a 2001 Chicago Tribune Chicagoan of the Year. He is currently a board member of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago.

Tickets to By the Way, Meet Vera Stark ($25 – $81; subject to change) go on sale to the general public Friday, February 15 at GoodmanTheatre.org. Tickets and subscriptions can also be purchased at the box office (170 North Dearborn) or by phone at 312.443.3800. Mezztix are half-price mezzanine tickets available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX) day of performance; Mezztix are not available by telephone. 10Tix are $10 rear mezzanine tickets for students available at 12 noon at the box office, and at 10am online on the day of performance; 10Tix are not available by telephone; a valid student I.D. must be presented when picking up the tickets; limit four per student with I.D. All tickets are subject to availability and handling fees apply. Discounted Group Tickets for 15 persons or more are available at 312.443.3820. Purchase Goodman Gift Certificates in any amount at GoodmanTheatre.org. The flexibility of Goodman Gift Certificates allows recipients to choose the production, date and time of their performance. Artists, dates and ticket prices are subject to change. Luxury Packages include, with a $250 donation, access to purchase up to eight premium seats, one complimentary parking pass, a production memento and use of the exclusive Goodman Lounge, including a private bar, restrooms and coat check.

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