The Hansberry-Sands Theatre Company (HSTC) will open their season with the timeless classic, “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men.” This award winning work, written by Lonnie Elder III and directed by debrah neal, will run at the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts for two consecutive weekends from September 21 thru September 30.
This story, set in Harlem, New York in 1968, depicts the inter-relations of characters who embody the “specialty” of being Black in an American Black urban ghetto in the turbulent but heightened 1960’s. This award winning work delivers a passionate snapshot of the life of a neighborhood barbershop owner on the verge of a new found entrepreneurship that unknowingly leads his family down the path of destruction with a notorious gangster/numbers racket king at the helm. Many of the storylines are germane to societal pressures of today like the headliner that African American women are both the nurturers and bread winners while holding the position as head of household in communities throughout the country. Through this fast paced drama it is revealed that blood, sweat, and tears are only a few of the sacrifices the Parker family makes to mainstream the ties that bind as they embark on their journey in “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men.”
To mark Hansberry’s 32nd anniversary they welcomed debrah neal of Gurnee, IL as guest Stage Director. neal, who is making her directorial debut with the Company, is known for her onstage as well as directorial accomplishments. When asked to share her personal interpretation of this work Ms. neal shared; “’Ceremonies in Dark Old Men’ is a story about Black men freeing themselves of the psychological ties that bind and render them hopeless in their pursuit to attain fulfillment in selfhood, worth, and economic autonomy.”
The strategy to incorporate a guest director this season presented an opportunity for longtime Artistic and Stage Director, AbNey to return to his roots as an actor. AbNey began his creative career acting with Gerald Wallace and the Peoples Theatre, Wisconsin’s first Black theatre company more than 30 years ago. He leads the cast in the role of Mr. Parker a dominant force in the play.
The Company is proud to have many of the supporting cast members with significant artistic talents that supersede this onstage opportunity. Returning to the Hansberry stage is nationally renowned poet, performer, and passionate mentor Tina Nixon, stage actor and seasoned stand up comedian Terrance “T DOT” Kingsby, Master drummer and Ton Ko-Thi, Ko-Thi’s children’s ensemble, Musical Director Tarence Spencer, longtime Company affiliate and popular radio personality Michael Carter, affectionately known as DJ Mike Mills, popular poet and actor Kerric Stephens who was first seen in one of Hansberry’s favorites, “The Other Cinderella,” promising actor Lashawnda Reynolds and in the role of Stage Manager Shelly Davis, a gifted poetic wordsmith and National Open Mike Slam competitor. Hansberry has convened this group of well known Milwaukee talent for your entertainment pleasure.
Since the essence of Ceremonies… is portrayed with the African American Barbershop as its backdrop it created a great opportunity to link a highly regarded urban mainstay to a project with equal cultural significance in the African American community. The Company hosted a first of its kind barbershop promotion on Saturday, September 7, at some of Milwaukee’s favorite barbershops including Gee’s Clippers, Dep’s Hall of Fades, Roz’s, Royal Images and salon, Plenty Penny’s. The second Barbershop promotion will take place on Saturday, September 15 when discount certificates will be available for the Saturday, September 22, 8:00 PM performance appropriately themed Barbershop Night.
The Ceremonies in Dark Old Men run will include six performances, Fri. and Sat. September 21, 22, 28, 29 at 8:00 p.m. and Sunday performances, September 23 and 30 at 4:00 p.m. The production will be staged in Vogel Hall, 123 E. State Street, located within the Marcus Center complex. For additional information contact the HSTC Hotline 414.616.PLAY or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Ceremonies… is recommended for mature audiences and includes some strong language.
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