The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis invites audiences to witness the new play development process firsthand on September 10 with a virtual, staged reading of Black Like Me by Monty Cole, based on the memoir of the same name by John Howard Griffin. This entertaining noir docu-drama examines the fine line between allyship and appropriation.
In 1959, a white journalist sought a doctor’s help to temporarily darken his skin so he could “pass” as Black. He traveled the segregated South for three weeks and published his experiences in 1961. Griffin’s journal has been celebrated by many as an indictment of racism, while others have described it as patronizing or offensive.
Chicago-based artist Monty Cole was compelled to express the conflicting feelings he experienced while reading the book, so he created modern-day Black characters to reenact the story, respond in real time to the events of the play and wrestle with their own concepts of equality and social justice. The piece is a captivating juxtaposition of historical and contemporary, analytical and emotional, lighthearted and heartbreaking.
“As I read Griffin’s book, I was simultaneously enticed and repulsed, understanding and critical, pushing back against it and being sucked into the Twilight Zone aspect of it,” said Cole.
The Chicago-based cast and artistic team include Director/Playwright: Monty Cole, Dramaturg: Regina Victor, Project Manager: Christopher Maxwell and Actors: Adia Alli, Breon Arzell, Brianna Buckley, McKenzie Chinn, Joe Dempsey, Eric Gerard, Daniel Kyri and Netta Walker. They will workshop the script for four days and record a staged reading, incorporating the changes honed during those rehearsals. Fans of The Rep’s Ignite New Play Festival know the electricity of offering input that helps a new play come to life.
“Of the many doors that theatre opens, civic dialogue is one of my favorites,” said Hana S. Sharif, The Rep’s Augustin Family Artistic Director. “Monty Cole’s brilliant new play is a compassionate and creative entry point. The Rep is thrilled to elevate this artist and this work.”
The one-night-only staged reading of Black Like Me is free and available for online streaming anywhere in the world on September 10, 2020, at 7:30 p.m. CST. There are a limited number of “seats,” so don’t wait to register. Visit this link to reserve your online viewing and experience this theatrical event from the comfort of your home.
For more information, visit repstl.org or call The Rep Box Office at 314-968-4925 Mondays through Fridays between 10:30 a.m. and 5 p.m.
ABOUT PLAYWRIGHT/DIRECTOR MONTY COLE
Cole is a Chicago-based director, producer and playwright who has workshopped and directed new plays and re-imaginings of classic texts around the country, working with significant companies such as Steppenwolf, Center Theatre Group, The Goodman Theatre, Victory Gardens Theater, Cape Cod Theatre Project, Alley Theatre All New Festival, American Theatre Company, California Institute of the Arts and others. He directed the Jeff Award winning production of The Hairy Ape for Oracle Productions. Cole has a BFA in Theatre Studies from Emerson College and an MFA in Directing from the California Institute of the Arts. www.monty-cole.com
ABOUT THE REPERTORY THEATRE ST. LOUIS
The Rep is the St. Louis region’s most honored live professional theatre company. Founded in 1966, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis is a fully professional theatrical operation belonging to the League of Resident Theatres, The League of St. Louis Theatres and is a constituent member of Theatre Communications Group, Inc., the national service organization for the not-for-profit professional theatre. www.repstl.org
Lynn Venhaus has had a continuous byline in St. Louis metro region publications since 1978. She is a Rotten Tomatoes-approved film critic, currently reviews films for Webster-Kirkwood Times and KTRS Radio, covers entertainment for PopLifeSTL.com and co-hosts podcast PopLifeSTL.com…Presents, and writes features and news for Belleville News-Democrat and contributes to other publications. She is a member of CCA, AWFJ and St. Louis Film Critics Association. She is a founding member of the St. Louis Theater Circle.