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  The Hampton Years at Theater J

The Hampton Years

Theater J
1529 Sixteenth Street, NW Washington

Theater J presents The Hampton Years, a world premiere event that explores the development of celebrated African-American artists John Biggers and Samella Lewis under the tutelage of Jewish refugee Viktor Lowenfeld. A product of Theater J's inaugural Locally Grown Festival, The Hampton Years chronicles the triumphs and struggles of these real-life emerging artists in a segregated society. The play also examines the impact of World War II on Lowenfeld and his wife, as well as the Jewish painter and educator's controversial involvement in the lives and careers of the African-American students.

Thru - Jun 30, 2013



Price: $45 - $60

Running Time: 2 hours, 15 minutes with 1 intermission

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  The Hampton Years Reviews
  • Highly Recommended
  • Recommended
  • Somewhat Recommended
  • Not Recommended

Washington Post - Recommended

"...The drama, based on real people and directed with care by Shirley Serotsky, shows off the impressive research Lawton has done in constructing her account of a time of awakening for African American artists. An audience emerges after two hours in the Goldman Theater at the DC Jewish Community Center agreeably enlightened about efforts at Hampton - today known as Hampton University - to fortify young black men and women for a world resistant to their artistic goals."
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Peter Marks


Washington Examiner - Highly Recommended

"...Theater J's final play in its 2012-2013 season, Jacqueline Lawton's "The Hampton Years," is a carefully researched, meticulously detailed historical play that outlines several large, intertwined narratives: the slow growth of racial integration in the American South, the various paths by which artistic talent develops and the emergence of modern art in America after World War II."
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Barbara Mackay


City Paper - Somewhat Recommended

"...It's a curious constant, the way overeager attempts to venerate real lives through art seem inevitably to reduce them. Lawton knows this. In an interview with DC Theatre Scene last week, she spoke insightfully about how difficult it is to balance a writer's love of subtlety with an audience's need to understand what's going on. Nothing she's tried to do here is easy. Unfortunately, it isn't very memorable, either."
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Chris Klimek


Washingtonian - Recommended

"...Though part of The Hampton Years' tension comes from fights between Lowenfeld, with his burgeoning but less than profitable art department, and the college's administration, the play is subtle enough not to turn its characters, including reluctant school administrators, into clear-cut villains or heroes. Its figures, from the fiery black art teacher and artist Charles White (David Lamont Wilson) to Lowenfeld's wife, Margaret (the charming Sarah Douglas), struggling to find her place in her new country, have more depth than that. It takes The Hampton Years longer to wrap up each person's story than it probably should, but regardless, we're invested in their future, thanks to a strong ensemble cast that universally makes each feel like an individual rather than a sketch."
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Missy Frederick


DC Metro Theater Arts - Highly Recommended

"...As a part of their Locally Grown: Community Supported Arts Festival, Theater J presents the world premiere of The Hampton Years written by Jacqueline E. Lawton. A poignant and somewhat turbulent drama about self-discovery and artistic freedom during World War II, this exciting new work challenges the audience to view not only the characters' stories from a different social viewpoint - but to look closely at their own lives and artistic creations as well. Well composed, and well-executed, this is a significantly impressive production."
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Amanda Gunther


ShowBizRadio - Somewhat Recommended

"...The Hampton Years is smart and ambitious, a script full of promise. However, in its current format and production, The Hampton Years felt more like a class about art than a piece of art about academia."
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Amy Berlin


MD Theatre Guide - Somewhat Recommended

"...There are some nice moments of clarity and enlightenment in all the discourse, just as there might be moments occasionally shining through in an otherwise dreary semester of an actual class."
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Roger Catlin


DCTheatreScene - Recommended

The world premiere The Hampton Years, lovingly mounted at Theater J, contains important nuggets of the country’s past without feeling pedantic or weighed down by its own history.
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Debbie Jackson


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