SPARTANBURG, S.C. — Wofford Theatre will close its 2018-19 season with a production of “Dutchman,” by LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka. Directed by Wofford alumna Connor Vetter, the show will be presented in the Sallenger Sisters Black Box Theatre in the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts, 8 p.m., May 8-11, 2019.
LeRoi Jones (1934-2014) was a poet, playwright, novelist and political activist. Over the course of a long and prolific literary career, his work was recognized with numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, the PEN/Faulkner Award and the Rockefeller Foundation Award for Drama. Though his career spanned a number of literary styles and social movements, he is most known for visceral, confrontational works that address issues of racism and discrimination in American society. Shortly after the 1965 assassination of Malcolm X, Jones moved from Manhattan’s Lower East Side to Harlem, where he founded the Black Arts Repertory Theatre and School, became a leader in the Black Arts Movement and re-styled himself Amiri Baraka.
First performed Off-Broadway in 1964, “Dutchman” is Jones/Baraka’s most well-known drama. The play functions as a brutally incisive meditation on race and identity. Staged entirely in a New York City subway car, the allegorical narrative follows Clay and Lula, two strangers whose encounter turns from flirtatious to deadly as deep-seated hatreds are revealed.
A 2014 graduate of Wofford College, Connor Vetter reflects that she fell in love with “Dutchman” in 2013, nearly 50 years after its premiere.
“‘Dutchman’ is an immediate piece of theatre; it does not hesitate in its criticisms of modern American politics and racial structures, and those criticisms echo hauntingly in the contemporary world. The earthquake of buckling social and racial inequalities in the United States has fractured our entire country since its conception; “Dutchman” rises from those cracks. Like the subway car it is named after, “Dutchman” never stops its exhilarating ride. It begs us — are we awake? Are we paying attention? Are we scared? Do we care?”
Tickets to this performance are free and will be available starting at 7 p.m. each evening in the lower lobby of the Rosalind Sallenger Richardson Center for the Arts. Audiences may stay for a brief post-show question-and-answer session with the “Dutchman” production team. These sessions will begin 15 minutes after each performance concludes.
Visit Wofford's box office for more information.