BY JAMES SHELDON AND DIRECTED BY MICHELE SHAY WITH LISA ARRINDELL, KAMAL BOLDEN, GYS DE VILLIERS AND ALEXANDRA NEIL
A CENTERPIECE OF THE INAUGURAL NEW WINDOWS FESTIVAL
The Billie Holiday Theatre Artistic and Executive Director Dr. Indira Etwaroo announced the theatre’s world premiere of James Sheldon’s Reparations, a centerpiece of the inaugural New Windows Festival, a major highlight of The Billie’s 2019-2020 season.
The world premiere of Reparations marks the sixth production of Sheldon’s plays, which include Shiverman, nominated as Best Play of 2012 by London’s Off-West End Awards. Directed by Tony Award-nominee Michele Shay (August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and Raisin in the Sun on Broadway, The Old Settler at The Billie, 2018 AUDELCO-winning Best Revival of the Year) Reparations stars Lisa Arrindell (Cat on a Hot Tin Roof on Broadway, A Lesson Before Dying, Madea’s Family Reunion), Kamal Bolden (The Resident, Chicago Fire, Rosewood), Alexandra Neil (Madoff, and Rock 'n' Roll and Match on Broadway), and Gys de Villiers (Mandela Long Walk to Freedom, Vehicle 19, It Gets Better).
Previews begin October 25, 2019 with Opening Night on Wednesday, November 6, 2019 and running through November 24, 2019 at The Billie Holiday Theatre, 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.
Reparations tells the story of a recently widowed white book editor (Alexandra Neil) who invites a younger black writer (Kamal Bolden) to her apartment, only to find that a night of tenderness and passion turns into a tumultuous morning-after when he threatens to reveal a dark secret from her past. As family friends – played by Lisa Arrindell and Gys de Villiers - join them for an Upper East Side lunch, we discover whether the young writer will succeed in claiming his “reparations” for a life of racial injustice and personal betrayal.
“The Billie continues to celebrate the triumph of the human spirit, which remains at the core of the African American experience during this 400 th commemorative year of the beginning of slavery in America. We enter this season with a profound understanding that the African American story is the very foundation of the American story,” stated Indira Etwaroo. “With New Windows and Reparations, the Black experience is the complex perspective through which we view the world and our relationship to it in order to inspire and generate deeply necessary and critical cross-cultural dialogues. These artists - James, Michele, Luba, Hollis, Maria - join us in Bed-Stuy, as we continue to peel back the layers of the status quo in the arts and to tackle issues of race, identity, equity, and equality through the creative process in ways that tear down walls, not build them.
“With Reparations, we have created a provocative examination of race in America and of the lenses through which we see each other, and I am excited to bring James’ story and The Billie’s vision for this piece to life,” stated director Michele Shay. “ I have always gravitated to stories that are unique, brave, honest, and that challenge and push the audience. I was drawn to Reparations because it is disruptive in the best way possible.
You have a white playwright, a black director, and a Black-led institution - dedicated to telling the stories of those across the African diaspora with the hope that Reparations will challenge age-old divisions and embrace our shared humanity.
The artistic team includes Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay as a set and prop designers, and David Moodey as a lighting designer with Sam Potochick as Production Stage Manager, Yohanna Florentine as Assistant Stage Manager, and Emma Pearl Nigut as Assistant Director. Casting by Anne Davison.
New Windows Festival goes beyond racial differences to explore the intersectionality and complexity of identity and to spotlight voices and perspectives that have not historically been presented at The Billie with bold and daring storytelling that centralizes themes of race, social justice, and equity within the human struggle for understanding and truth.