Kim Nalley as Blues Speak Woman and Rodney Street as Guitar Man in Spunk: Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston, playing at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, directed by Darryl V. Jones. Photo by Curtis Barnes.
The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco concludes its 26th season with ďSpunk: Three Tales by Zora Neale Hurston,Ē adapted for the stage by George C. Wolfe.
Spunk is a collection of Zora Neale Hurston stories first published in the 1930s, and Wolfe has adapted three of them for the stage. Hurston, who lived 1891 to 1960, was a major literary influence in the historic Harlem Renaissance.
Sweat celebrates the resilience and resourcefulness of Delia, a washerwoman married to Sykes, an unfaithful and abusive husband who underestimates his wife. The staging evokes Eatonville, Alabama, the small town where Hurston grew up, with its milieu of porch sitters who witness main events and offer communal wisdom and commentary.
The Gilded Six-Bits takes us into the world of an adoring husband, Joe Banks, whose wife Missie May is tempted by the glitter of another. Itís an enjoyable story of love, infidelity and redemption. Hurstonís portrait of Missie May is powerful because the author refuses to play to the stereotypes prevalent in her day, and gives us a heroine who is sexually complex, rather than a tragic mulatto or bad girl turned pariah.
And Story in Harlem Slang showcases Hurstonís talents as one of our greatest folklorists. She re-creates the vivid slang and colorful humor of two flashy con artists playing the dozens and trying to hustle a wary domestic who is enjoying her day off. The program guide thoughtfully includes a glossary of Harlem slang so the audience can keep up with the fast-stepping flimflammers as they bull-skate, jump salty and air out.
Just as important as the story line are the choreography and music. Darryl V. Jones is director and choreographer. Jones comes to the Bay area from the University of Michigan, where he was assistant professor of theatre and drama. He has extensive directing credits and is the recipient of several fellowships. The wonderful music is by Chic Street Man. Onstage, Guitar Man is played/performed by Rodney Street.
The very talented cast includes Kim Nalley, C. Kelly Wright, Donald E. Lacy Jr., Hosea L. Simmons Sr., and Reginald White.
Kim Nalley is outstanding as Blues Speak Woman, Killer Diller Queen and other characters in this production. She is an internationally acclaimed jazz vocalist, actress, producer and the owner of Jazz at Pearlís in North Beach. She has captivated audiences at some of the most prestigious jazz festivals throughout the world. Local residents may have seen Nalley in Teatro Zinzanni. Visit www.kimnalley.com.
Lorraine Hansberry Theatreís upcoming season will offer works by August Wilson and Toni Morrison. Read more at www.lhtsf.org.