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  Trouble in Mind at Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater

Trouble in Mind

Arena Stage at the Mead Center for American Theater
1101 Sixth Street, SW Washington

Written in 1955, at the dawn of the civil rights movement, Alice Childress' Trouble in Mind endures as a thought-provoking race drama. It presents a play within a play, targeting the ironic parallels between the frame story of the actors rehearsing and the play being rehearsed: a portrayal of a Southern lynching that includes all of the racist stereotypes it tries to protest. Arena Stage's production features Helen Hayes Award-winner E. Faye Butler (Aunt Eller in Arena's Oklahoma!), Tony Award-nominee Tony Jefferson Byrd (Broadway's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) and Lawrence O'Dwyer (Arena's The Fantasticks).

Presented by Kreeger Theater

Thru - Oct 23, 2011

Tuesdays: 7:30pm
Wednesdays: 7:30pm
Thursdays: 8:00pm
Fridays: 8:00pm
Saturdays: 2:00pm & 8:00pm
Sundays: 2:00pm & 7:30pm

Price: $74-$89

Box Office: 202-488-3300

Running Time: 2 hrs, 30 minutes with 1 intermission
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  Trouble in Mind Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Highly Recommended

"...Marty Lodge, playing the superior, self-consumed director, and Gretchen Hall, as a cloyingly empathetic white actress eager to share her progressive racial attitudes, offer rewarding layers of authenticity, and Dirden brings to his portrayal a young actor’s sense of the working of his charm. Best of all may be Thomas Jefferson Byrd in his commandingly appealing turn as Sheldon, an old-school black actor desirous of nothing more —on the stage as in life —than making as few waves as possible. (His devastating delivery of the play’s centerpiece speech, about a crime against humanity he witnessed as a child, is guaranteed to chill you to the marrow.)"
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Peter Marks

Baltimore Sun - Highly Recommended

"... With its vivid depiction of backstage life, "Trouble in Mind" remains greatly entertaining. With its razor-sharp dissection of the things that define us and divide us, this oddly neglected play is still devastating, too, as this deftly directed, artfully acted production reaffirms."
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Tim Smith

MetroWeekly - Recommended

"... Ultimately, the most troubling thing about Trouble In Mind is that it's still relevant today. Even now there are too few plays on Broadway written by African-Americans. And there's still a struggle between the show and the business, and finding the right balance between what will move people and what will sell. Trouble In Mind may not have achieved that balance, but it should have been given a chance. If anything, Arena Stage proves it's not too late. Broadway could use a dose of Trouble."

Doug Rule

BroadwayWorld - Recommended

"...Well, Smith has corrallEd Lewis (in her first production since leaving her post at Center Stage) to direct Trouble in Mind which had a successful at the Baltimore theater in 2007. I not only saw that production in Baltimore but saw it as well at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Lewis has assembled many from that production at the Arena including the incomparable E. Faye Buter (Wiletta Mayer), Starla Benford (Millie Davis), Thomasefferson Byrd (ShelDon Forrester), Daren Kelly (Bill O'Wray), Garret Neergaard (Eddie Fenton) and Laurence O'Dwyer (Henry). Joining them are Brandon J. Dirden (John Neveins), Gretchen Hall (Judy Sears), Marty Lodge (Al Manners), and T. Anthony Quinn (Stagehand)."
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Charled Shubow

Talkin Broadway - Highly Recommended

"...So many things change as years and eras pass, but surprisingly, some things don't seem so different after all. Playwright Alice Childress wrote Trouble in Mind in 1955, during an era of Jim Crow laws and civil rights demonstrations, yet Arena Stage's production of the play hits on some issues that are as touchy today as they were half a century ago."
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Susan Berlin

City Paper - Somewhat Recommended

"...Though there may still be some power to Trouble In Mind, the 1957 race-relations dramedy that very nearly made Alice Childress the first black woman playwright to have a show produced on Broadway, it’s not being unleashed with as much intensity as you might wish in Irene Lewis’ busily unsubtle re-mount at Arena’s Kreeger Theater."
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Bob Mondello

Washingtonian - Recommended

"...Director Irene Lewis (who also staged the show at Baltimore’s CenterStage) has assembled an outstanding cast, and the chemistry between the actors at certain points is palpable. But at times, some important points feel slightly rushed. In contrast, the strongest moment of the play is a tragic tale told by the usually jovial Sheldon, with such a measured and thoughtful pace that it’s downright heartbreaking. “Everyone’s a stranger, and I’m the strangest of all,” says a drunken Judy after he finishes, summing up the gist of the play. Or, as Al tells Wiletta, “The American public is not ready to see you the way you want to be seen.” Childress’s play was an antidote to that half a century ago, and it’s still helping us take the blinkers off."
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Sophie Gilbert

MD Theatre Guide - Highly Recommended

"...On a dimly lit stage, tall, red brick walls surround the actors and dusty stage lights hang above their heads. In Alice Childress’ 1955 powerful, angry and humor-filled play, black and white actors, a director, his stagehand and assistant are rehearsing their play that’s bound for ‘The Great White Way.’ Director Al Manners assures his cast that this will be a normal read-through, and a chance to discover themselves and the creative process."
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Don Michael Mendoza and Joel Markowitz

DCTheatreScene - Highly Recommended

Trouble in Mind was based on Miss Childress’ experience as an actor relegated to playing maids and mammies. It was to be the first play produced on Broadway written by a black woman, but the producers wanted to her to give the play a happy ending, which she refused to do. Four years later, the groundbreaking distinction went to A Raisin in the Sun by Lorraine Hansberry.
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Jayne Blanchard

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