eta Creative Arts Foundation, revives the 1991 production of “Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone,” in conjunction with the citywide Our Miss Brooks Centennial Chicago Celebration. Playwright Vantile E. Whitfield, compiled and adapted Ms. Brooks signature works about 1950s Black life and culture in Chicago. Blues, jazz, black swag, beauty shop gossip, skin color, a missing child, a crazy lady, a “fast “woman, the artist, a veteran, and a confused student populate the community captured in Brooks’ poetry and Whitfield’s vibrant adaptation. A Street in Bronzeville, The Bean Eaters, Maud Martha, In the Mecca, and The World of Gwendolyn Brooks create the palette for Brownstone.
It opened Friday, May 12, 2017 and will run through June 25, 2017 at eta Creative Arts Foundation, 7558 S. South Chicago Avenue. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, and Sundays at 3pm. General Admission is $40 with reduced rates for seniors, students and groups. To purchase tickets and inquire additional information on Group Sales, call 773-752-3955 or visit www.etacreativearts.org.
Vantile E. Whitfield (deceased 2005) received a Jeff Citation in 1992 for his original adaptation of Ms. Brooks’ poetry. “Brownstone” premiered in 1976 at Training Center Experimental Theatre in Washington, D.C. Mr. Whitfield received numerous awards for his work including, NAACP Image Award, Los Angeles Drama Critics Award, eta Epic Men of the 20th Century, co-founder of the American Theater of Being (Frank Silver), founded the Performing Arts Society of Los Angeles, Emmy Nomination for “Anatomy of Change,” CBS affiliate, and was the first black production designer on Broadway with costumes, set and lights for “The Amen Corner.” During his seven-year tenure with NEA, Whitfield founded The Expansion Arts program in 1971 and is credited for expanding arts funding to community-based arts organization in Latino, Appalachian, American Indian, and Black communities.
Chicago native, Gwendolyn Brooks, received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1950 for Annie Allen, poems about Black life in Chicago. She succeeded Carl Sandburg as Poet Laureate of Illinois in 1968. She is the recipient of numerous awards and positions including Guggenheim Fellowships, American Academy of Arts and Letters, consultant to the Library of Congress, teacher, lecturer and activist. Of her works, Ms. Brooks said, “I was to be a Watchful eye, Tuned ear, a Super reporter.” Poet Langston Hughes reviewed Annie Allen for Voices and commented, “the people and poems in Gwendolyn Brooks’ book are alive, reaching, and very much of today.”
Brownstone is directed by Jonathan Wilson, Professor of Theatre and Drama Loyola University Chicago. Wilson received numerous Jeff nominations and awards for his directorial work. Credits include: From the Mississippi Delta (Jeff award), Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Oedipus the King,
The Dutchman and various local productions including “Liberty City” at eta.
Brownstone features Colin Jones (Satin Legs), Donn C. Harper (Way Out Morgan), Felisha McNeal (Maud Martha), Asia Jackson (Johnnie Mae), Tonya Simmons (Mrs. Sallie), George Stalling (Alfred), Paulette Flowers (Sophie) and Kai Ealy (Lincoln West). Sound and light design by Darryl Goodman, Costume design Kemati J. Porter and Kenyatta, and Scenic design Patrice Davidson.