(BOSTON) — Huntington Theatre Company concludes its 2013-2014 Season with Smart People, a sharp and provocative new comedy by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond. Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois (The Power of Duff) helms the newest play from the author of the Huntington's 2010 hit production of Stick Fly. Performances of Smart People begin at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA on May 23. Due to popular demand, the run has been extended to Sunday, June 29, 2014.
"Quick-witted, wildly intelligent, and as entertaining as it is unsettling, Smart People is Lydia Diamond's most ambitious play to date," says DuBois. "Her debut play at the Huntington, the wildly successful Stick Fly, was first and foremost about family dynamics, whereas Smart People is about big, controversial ideas. Yet the two share electrifying interpersonal relationships among surprising characters that infuse both stories with great humor and heart."
Smart People examines the big question of whether our beliefs and prejudices are hard-wired into us by exploring the intersecting lives of four Harvard intellectuals — Brian, a white neuro-pyschiatrist studying the brain's response to race; his Chinese-Japanese American lover Ginny, a tenured Harvard professor of psychology who studies race and identity among Asian-American women; Brian's friend Jackson, an outspoken African-American surgical intern on rotation in one of Harvard's teaching hospitals; and Valerie, an African-American graduate of ART's acting program. With barbed wit, Diamond explores the inescapable nature of racism and depicts the four's search for love, success, and identity in a complex world in this controversial and fiercely funny new play.
"What an outrageous honor — the luxury of returning to a theatre I've come to call home," says Diamond. "I can think of no better place to launch my new play than within the smart, warm embrace of the Huntington. Smart People takes on big, risky ideas and lives in the world of questioning and flawed humanity. It is thrilling to have Peter DuBois at the helm of a ship that looks at huge, explosive ideas in nuanced and often humorous ways."
The ensemble cast features McKinley Belcher III (Invisible Man at the Huntington; Romeo & Juliet at Classic Stage Company) as Jackson; Miranda Craigwell (Huntington Playwriting Fellow, 2010-2012) as Valerie; Roderick Hill (What The Butler Saw at the Huntington and Butley on Broadway) as Brian; and Eunice Wong (Faust at Classic Stage Company and The Intelligent Design of Jenny Chow at Atlantic Theater Company) as Ginny.
Smart People was commissioned by McCarter Theatre Center and is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant.
About the Artists
Lydia R. Diamond is a member of the 2005-2007 cohort of Huntington Playwriting Fellows. Her most recent play, Smart People, was commissioned by the McCarter Theatre and had its world premiere at the Huntington in 2014. The Huntington’s 2010 hit production of her play Stick Fly produced in association with Arena Stage inspired the 2011 Tony Award-nominated Broadway production. Awards for Stick Fly include a 2012 Outer Circle Critics Award nomination for Best Play (Broadway), 2010 IRNE Award for Best Play, 2010 LA Critics Circle Award for Playwriting, 2010 LA Garland Award for Playwriting, 2009 LA Weekly Theatre Award for Playwriting, 2008 Susan S. Blackburn Finalist, 2006 Black Theatre Alliance Award, and 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award Nomination for Best New Work. Her other plays include Voyeurs de Venus (2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Work, 2006 BTAA for Best Writing); The Bluest Eye (2006 Black Arts Alliance Image Award for Best New Play, 2008 American Alliance for Theatre and Education Distinguished Play Award); The Gift Horse (2005 Theodore Ward Prize, Kesselring Prize – 2nd Place); Harriet Jacobs; and Stage Black. She was a 2005-2006 Harvard WEB Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, a 2012-2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow, a 2012 Sallie B. Goodman McCarter Fellow, and a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor. She is currently a resident playwright at Chicago Dramatists and a playwright in residence at Arena Stage. Ms. Diamond is a graduate of Northwestern University where she majored in performance studies. She has an honorary doctorate of arts from Pine Manor College and was on faculty at Boston University.
(As of June 29, 2014)
Peter DuBois is in his ninth season as Artistic Director at the Huntington where his directing credits include Stephen Sondheim’s Sunday in the Park with George and A Little Night Music, the world premieres of Gina Gionfriddo’s Can You Forgive Her?, Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People, Evan M. Wiener’s Captors, Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet (2012 Pulitzer finalist), Bob Glaudini’s Vengeance is the Lord’s, and David Grimm’s The Miracle at Naples; the regional premieres of Stephen Belber’s The Power of Duff , Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw and Rapture, Blister, Burn, A. Rey Pamatmat’s after all the terrible things I do, and Craig Lucas’ Prelude to a Kiss. His New York credits include The Power of Duff with Greg Kinnear (New York Stage and Film); the premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn (Playwrights Horizons, 2013 Pulitzer finalist); Sons of the Prophet (Roundabout Theatre Company); Modern Terrorism, Becky Shaw (2009 Pulitzer finalist), Trust with Sutton Foster and Zach Braff, and All New People (Second Stage Theatre); Measure for Pleasure, Richard III with Peter Dinklage, Biro, and Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles? (The Public Theater/ NYSF); and Jack Goes Boating with Philip Seymour Hoffman and The View From 151st Street (LAByrinth Theater Company/The Public Theater). Regional US, UK, and West End credits include productions at Hampstead Theatre, Duke of York’s Theatre, Almeida Theatre, American Conservatory Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, Humana Festival of New Plays, Manchester Opera House, and Kings Theater Glasgow. He served for five years as associate producer and resident director at The Public Theater, preceded by five years as artistic director of the Perseverance Theatre in Juneau, Alaska. Mr. DuBois lived and worked in the Czech Republic where he co-founded Asylum, a multi-national squat theatre in Prague. His productions have been on the annual top ten lists of The New York Times, Time Out, New York Magazine, The New Yorker, Newsday, Variety, Entertainment Weekly, The Evening Standard, The Boston Globe, and The Improper Bostonian.
(As of October 2016)
The Huntington's production of Smart People will feature scenic design by Alexander Dodge (Rapture, Blister, Burn and Good People at the Huntington; A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway), costume design by Junghyun Georgia Lee (Max and Ruby Off Broadway and The Water's Edge at Second Stage Theatre), lighting design by Paul Gallo (over 50 Broadway productions including Wonderland and Three Days of Rain), sound design by M.L. Dogg (The Power of Duff and Rapture, Blister, Burn at the Huntington and The Pee-Wee Herman Show on Broadway), and projection design by Aaron Rhyne (The Power of Duff at the Huntington and A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder on Broadway). Production stage manager is Emily McMullen. Assistant stage manager is Kevin Schlagle.
- Grand Patron: Boston University
- Season Sponsors: J. David Wimberly, Carol G. Deane
About the Huntington Theatre Company
Recipient of the 2013 Regional Theatre Tony Award and named Best of Boston 2013 by Boston magazine, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston's leading professional theatre and one of the region's premiere cultural assets since its founding in 1982. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current to create award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Under the direction of Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso and in residence at Boston University, the Huntington cultivates, celebrates, and champions theatre as an art form. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.
PRODUCTION CALENDAR AND RELATED EVENTS
Post-Show Audience Conversations
Led by members of the Huntington staff. After most Tuesday — Friday, Saturday matinee, and Sunday matinee performances throughout the season. Free with a ticket to the performance.
- Friday, June 6 at 10am
For students in grades 8-12. Tickets: $15. Includes pre-show in-school visit, curriculum guide, post-show Actors Forum, and Dramatic Returns card for each student. Call 617 273 1558 for information.
35 Below Wrap Party
- Friday, May 30 following the 8pm performance
A post-show party for the region's culturally curious ages 21 to 35 featuring backstage access, free refreshments, and live entertainment. 35 Below tickets are available at all performances to patrons 35 and under for just $25.
- Friday, June 6 at 10am
- Saturday, June 14 at 2pm
Audio Description is a carefully timed, live narration of the visual aspects of a performance. It is broadcast via a radio transmitter to patrons who wear a single headphone receiver enabling them to hear both the on-stage dialogue and the describer's narration