Cleage – Upcoming Playwright Scholar Series!

Eclipse puts on several Playwright Scholar Series events each season to give the audience a deeper look into each writers canon.

This Saturday, August 1st at 2pm, we will be exploring the prose, poetry and essays of Pearl Cleage.

Ensemble members JP Pierson and Sarah Moeller selected inspirational excerpts out of her writing and brought these pieces to the table at the first rehearsal for the Playwright Scholar Series last night.

It was a great rehearsal.  A group of six actors (male and female) assembled to read selected pieces.  They were given some time to read through the pieces themselves and then choose the piece each actor felt strongest about.  After hearing each piece out loud we discussed more about Pearl Cleage, what inspires her, what inspires us about her and then dismissed for the evening to take some time to reflect on the insightful pieces we had heard over the evening.

Tonight we will meet for rehearsal number two and revisit each piece that was read last night and then work more on how the pieces will be read and presented Saturday afternoon.

We hope you can join us for this event!!  It is free for subscribers and $5 suggested donation for non-subscribers.

Friday photo rescue

From the currently-running, Jeff-Recommended A Song for Coretta by Pearl Cleage – I promise the whole show isn’t this sad, but this moment between Keisha (Kristy Johnson, left) and Mona Lisa (Kelly Owens) is beautiful:

In case you missed it …

You can watch a clip from last Saturday’s Playwright Scholar Series event, From the Page to the Stage:

This is Steven Fedoruk reading part of “Monogamy Blues,” from The Brass Bed and Other Stories.

Ensemble members read excerpts from What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day, Deals With the Devil and Other Reasons to Riot, and The Brass Bed and Other Stories in a great afternoon enjoying the side of Pearl Cleage’s writing that we can’t present on stage.

Pearl’s Top 10

Plays are great not only to watch but to read and imagine the entire show how you would like to see it acted out.

To get you started here is a Top 10 list of plays recommended by Pearl Cleage from a 2001 article:

1. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf by Ntozake Shange

2. A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry

3. A Soldier’s Story by Charles Fuller

4. Pretty Fire by Charlayne Woodard

5. Flyin’ West by Pearl Cleage

6. Beauty’s Daughter, Monster, The Gimmick: Three Plays by Dael Orlandersmith

7. Fires In The Mirror by Anna Deavere Smith

8. A Black Woman Speaks by Beah Richards

9. Trouble In Mind, a “comedy-drama in two acts” by Alice Childress

10. Fences by August Wilson

Friday photo rescue

Blues for an Alabama Sky, from the current Pearl Cleage season (this is from a tech rehearsal a few days before the show opened).

Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage

Cleage’s Early Career

Clearly, Pearl Cleage is currently primarily known as a novelist, playwright and poet. However, as pointed out by an audience member at last weekend’s post show discussion many people from Atlanta first recall her from her more publicly political years. In her early career she worked a number of media jobs, most prominently as press secretary and speech writer in the 1970’s for Maynard Jackson, the first black mayor of Atlanta. Additionally, she often wrote for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and the Atlanta Tribune. In 1991 she won the outstanding columnist award from the Atlanta Association of Black Journalists. Since her early days in which the public saw her more as a public political figure she has taken the political into the personal through her fiction works. This can be seen through a number of her works including Deals with the Devil, Some Things I Thought I’d Never Do, and Bourbon at the Border, currently playing at Victory Gardens Greenhouse Theater.

The Motivation behind the Words

In several of the post show discussions for Bourbon at the Border questions regarding the motivation behind Pearl’s writing have come up in reference to the powerful subject matters used in her writing. In a general sense, Cleage is zealous with regard to issues of black life she feels the need for a forum for discussion and promotes practical education whenever possible.  Cleage dives into race, sex and love “in a growing body of literary work while she reveals poignant truths about brave black women.”  She states “The purpose of my writing, often, is to express the point where racism and sexism meet.”

Below is a snippet from the article Home Time and Island Time regarding Pearl and her writing influences:

“Two regular-size windows in Cleage’s office that are anything but regular when it comes to influencing her writing. ‘Through those windows I can watch my neighborhood go by,’ Cleage says. ‘I watch girls getting pregnant too soon, guys hard eyed and looking mean whom I knew as cute four year olds. By choice, I don’t leave my Southwest neighborhood much, and these windows are my windows to all of it…….The contradictions that I write about in my novels are here everyday. Some writers write about blacks, but they never see blacks.'”