Huntington Playwriting Fellow And Author of Stick Fly Lydia R. Diamond Returns To The Huntington With Provocative New Comedy Smart People

(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 seventh season as Artistic Director at the Huntington, where his directing credits include the world premieres of Lydia R. Diamond's Smart People, Evan M. Wiener’s Captors, Stephen Karam’s Sons of the Prophet (2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist), Bob Glaudini’s Vengeance is the Lord’s, David Grimm’s The Miracle at Naples; the regional premieres of Stephen Belbers The Power of Duff and Gina Gionfriddo’s Becky Shaw and Rapture, Blister, Burn; and Craig Lucas’ Prelude to a Kiss. His West End/London credits include Rapture, Blister, Burn (Hampstead Theatre), All New People with Zach Braff (Duke of York’s Theatre), and Becky Shaw (Almeida Theatre). His New York credits include The Power of Duff with Greg Kinnear (New York Stage and Film/Powerhouse Theater); the premiere of Rapture, Blister, Burn (Playwrights Horizons, 2013 Pulitzer Prize Finalist); Sons of the Prophet (Roundabout Theatre Company, 2012 Pulitzer Prize Finalist); Modern Terrorism, Becky Shaw, Trust with Sutton Foster, and All New People (Second Stage Theatre); Measure for Pleasure, Richard III with Peter Dinklage, Mom, How Did You Meet the Beatles?, and Biro (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 and UK credits include productions at American Conservatory Theater, Trinity Repertory Company, Humana Festival of New Plays, Manchester Opera House, and King's Theater Glasgow. Before arriving at the Huntington, 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. Prior to his work at Perseverance, 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, and Improper Bostonian, and he received an Honorable Mention for 2013 Bostonian of the Year by The Boston Globe Magazine.

(As of October 2014)

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.

 

Sponsors

  • 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

SMART PEOPLE Performance Calendar. Four Harvard intellectuals navigate the complexities of race, ambition, friendship, and the human brain in this controversial and fiercely funny new play by Huntington Playwriting Fellow Lydia R. Diamond and directed by Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. The sharp new comedy SMART PEOPLE plays May 23 - June 21, 2014 at the South End / Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Learn more at huntingtontheatre.org/smartpeople

    Post-Show Audience Conversations

  • Ongoing
    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.

    Student Matinee

  • 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. 

    Audio-Described Performance

  • 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

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