The Metropolitan Playhouse presents a revival of Deep Are the Roots, by Arnaud d'Usseau and James Gow. First staged in 1945 and revived in 1960, the play now receives the first professional production in the city in over 50 years, directed by Michael Hardart at Metropolitan’s home. Closing is on 4/1/12. Tickets are $22 general; $18 students/seniors; $10 children, and may be purchased at www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/tickets or 212 995 5302.
Brett Charles, a decorated, African-American lieutenant in the US Army, returns from WW II to his childhood home: the Southern mansion of long-time US Senator Ellsworth Langdon, where Brett was raised as the son of a housekeeper. There he discovers that his new perspectives and ambitions do not fit with the expectations of his community: not those of his mother and the Senator, who would be happy for him to "keep his place"; not those of the Senator's progressive eldest daughter, who would be his patroness to a higher education; and not to the hide-bound citizens of the town. But when he and the Senator's younger daughter cannot deny their blossoming love for one another, unease with a changing world quickly explodes into something far darker. Deep Are the Roots was written in the pre-dawn of the Civil Rights Era--before the bus boycott, the marches from Selma to Montgomery, the sit-ins in Greensboro--9 years before Brown vs. the Board of Education and 19 years before the Civil Rights Act. Exploring different journeys of self-discovery and political awakening in each character--for good and ill--the play asks troubling questions that have yet to be answered, today.
As always at Metropolitan, our production seeks to know this part of our cultural past as a piece of its time, revealing the roots of our social attitudes in 2012 because it is both quite prescient, but in many ways naive in light of what has come since. At the same time, the play's dramatic scope resonates with concerns well beyond its particular focus in 1945, and because of that distance sheds new light on them. It explores power claimed and denied between men and women, workers and aristocrats, the educated and the unschooled, the self-righteous and the self-protecting. And underlying the drama of the play is a central fear of changing communities and culture that is hauntingly familiar in our country's debates over immigration policy and treatment of growing minorities, from Hispanic to Arab. Metropolitan presents the play as the third of four mainstage productions in our season devoted to exploring Class in America.
Arnaud d'Usseau ( 1916-1990 ) and James Gow ( 1907-1952 ) were repeat collaborators, whose work together included the story of an American family raising a Nazi-indoctrinated German child, Tomorrow The World (1943), and the 1950 comedy The Legend of Sarah. D'Usseau also collaborated with Dorothy Parker on the play Ladies of the Corridor, and wrote numerous screenplays, including One Crowded Night, Lady Scarface, and The Man Who Wouldn't Die. Blacklisted in 1950 as a Communist sympathizer, he appeared before Joseph McCarthy's Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations in 1953, where he refused to testify in a confrontation testy enough that McCarthy threatened to have him forcibly removed from the proceedings. He removed to France and Spain for some years, where he continued writing screenplays under various pseudonyms, eventually returning to the United States where he concluded his career teaching writing at NYU. Gow, who died at age 44, was also a screenwriter in his own right, active in the 30's and 40's, whose credits include Moonlight in Hawaii, Bunker Bean, Murder on a Bridle Path, and I Dream Too Much.
Deep Are the Roots is directed by Michael Hardart, whose It Pays to Advertise at Metropolitan was named a best revival of 2009 by nytheatre.com, and whose direction of The Great Divide, 2011 and Under the Gaslight, 2010 were praised as "astute" (nytheatre.com), "keen"(Back Stage) and "deft " (The New York Times). Deep Are the Roots stars R. J. Foster as Brett Charles, Caitlin McEwan as Ginevra Langdon, J. M. McDonough as Senator Langdon; Teresa Kelsey (One-Third of a Nation, Haunted, Missouri Legend) as Alice Langdon, Michael Anderson (Denial) as Howard Merrick, Gloria Sauvé as Bella Charles, Nirayl Wilcox as Honey, and Stephen Pelletier as Roy Maxwell. Also featuring David Burfoot, William J. Algood, and Roland Keller. Set Design by Emiy Inglis (The Great Divide); Lighting Design by Christopher Weston (The Jazz Singer, From Rags to Riches, One-Third of a Nation, Uncle Tom's Cabin) and Costumes by Sidney Fortner (The Jazz Singer, From Rags to Riches, The Great Divide, The Drunkard.) Fight Choreography is by Scott Barrow (From Rags to Riches.) The Stage Manager is Niki Armato.