THE HUNTINGTON PRESENTS THE EXTRAORDINARY THEATRICAL EVENT – WORLD PREMIERE OF COMMON GROUND REVISITED
This highly anticipated stage adaptation examines J. Anthony Lukas’ Pulitzer Prize winner about busing in Boston with a contemporary lens.
(BOSTON) – The Huntington announces the world premiere of Common Ground Revisited, a new play co-conceived by Obie Award-winning director Melia Bensussen and Obie Award-winning playwright and Huntington Playwriting Fellow Kirsten Greenidge (Our Daughters, Like Pillars; Luck of the Irish; and Milk Like Sugar at The Huntington). The production runs from May 27 – June 26, 2022 at The Huntington’s Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, with digital access to the filmed performance available until July 10, 2022.
Having worked together on Luck of the Irish at The Huntington, playwright Greenidge and director Bensussen reunite to bring Boston’s history to life on stage with an intricately woven theatrical piece based in part on, and inspired by, the 1985 Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner for non-fiction, Common Ground: A Turbulent Decade in the Lives of Three American Families by J. Anthony Lukas.
Lukas’ iconic book follows three Boston families through the 1970s – the Divers in the South End, the Twymons in Roxbury, and the McGoffs in Charlestown – as they experience Boston’s attempt at school desegregation through court-mandated busing. Greenidge’s theatrical adaptation uses the book as a jumping off point to explore Boston’s history, as well as issues of race and class surrounding the integration of Boston Public Schools, and the impact of the past on the present day. Developed with ArtsEmerson, Greenidge and Bensussen first began collaborating on the play while teaching a course at Emerson College in 2011.
“The book Common Ground remains incredibly relevant,” says Greenidge, “and really speaks to where we are today in terms of our Boston public school system, the neighborhoods we inhabit, and how we interact – the issues are complicated and very specific. I think sometimes we can lose sight of what came before, and reexamining those narratives is crucial to how we live our lives in this region.”
“Common Ground Revisited is a theatrical quilt capturing different moments of Boston’s past, seen through a variety of perspectives,” says Bensussen. “We hope to start conversations, and with our storytelling invite our audiences to think about those challenging times, and their impact on our contemporary assumptions and narratives.”
The cast of Common Ground Revisited features an ensemble of 12 actors, each of whom are from Greater Boston or who have strong Boston ties. The cast members have played a vital role in the development of the piece through workshops and readings, and a number of their personal stories and experiences have been incorporated into the script. They are, in alphabetical order:
- Marianna Bassham (Lisa McGoff/Ensemble; she/her) – Hurricane Diane, Sweat, Luck of the Irish and many more at The Huntington; the films Don’t Look Up and Moonrise Kingdom, and “Olive Kittridge” on HBO
- Kadahj Bennett (Richard Twymon/Ensemble; he/him) – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead at The Huntington; People, Places, and Things and Pass Over at SpeakEasy Stage
- Elle Borders (Cassandra Twymon/Ensemble; she/her) – We All Fall Down at The Huntington, Black Odyssey Boston at The Front Porch Arts Collective/Central Square Theater
- Matthew Bretschneider (Ensemble; he/him) – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Romeo and Juliet, Tartuffe, Dead End at The Huntington
- Shanaé Burch (Rachel Twymon Jr/Ensemble; she/her) – Milk Like Sugar and The View from Here at The Huntington
- Amanda Collins (Alice McGoff/Ensemble; she/her) – Miss Bennet: Christmas at Pemberley (Merrimack Rep); The Thanksgiving Play (Lyric Stage); Old Money (Commonwealth Shakespeare Co.)
- Stacy Fischer (Joan Diver/Ensemble; she/her) – Our Town and A Month in the Country at The Huntington; Photograph 51 at Central Square Theater, The Pink Unicorn at SpeakEasy Stage
- Michael Kaye (Colin Diver/Ensemble; he/him) – Dead End and Two Lives at The Huntington; Admissions, Mothers and Sons, and Clybourne Park at SpeakEasy Stage
- Shannon Lamb (Rachel Twymon Sr/Ensemble; she/her) – Letters to Kamala (WAM), Joe Turner’s Come and Gone (UMASS Theater), It Happened in Little Rock, Because of Winn Dixie (Arkansas Repertory Theatre)
- Karen MacDonald (Ensemble) – Ether Dome, M, Good People, Before I Leave You, Bus Stop, All My Sons, A Civil War Christmas at The Huntington; The Glass Menagerie on Broadway, 73 productions at ART
- Maurice Emmanuel Parent (Ensemble; he/him) – Sweat, Merrily We Roll Along, Skeleton Crew and more at The Huntington, Co-Producing Artistic Director of The Front Porch Arts Collective
- Omar Robinson (Ensemble; he/him) – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Tartuffe, and Romeo and Juliet at The Huntington
The creative team for Common Ground Revisited includes scenic design by Sara Brown (Champion at Boston Lyric Opera), costume design by An-lin Dauber (Paul Swan is Dead and Gone, What You are Now with The Civilians), lighting design by Brian J. Lilienthal (Awake and Sing, Yerma, Quixote Nuevo at The Huntington), sound design by Pornchanok Kanchanabanca (Sweat at The Huntington), projection design by Rasean Davonté Johnson (The March to Liberation at New York Philharmonic), and hair, wig and makeup design by J. Jared Janas (Man in the Ring, Indecent at The Huntington, Jagged Little Pill on Broadway). The production stage manager is Emily F. McMullen and the stage manager is Kevin Schlagle.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
Kirsten Greenidge she/her (Co-conceiver, Adaptor) is The Huntington’s 2022 Spotlight Gala Wimberly Honoree, a Huntington Playwrighting Fellow from 2007-2009 and the author of Our Daughters, Like Pillars, Milk Like Sugar and Luck of the Irish (The Huntington), as well as The View from Here (commission from The Huntington’s Education Department). A Village Voice/Obie Award winner and a PEN/America Laura Pels Award recipient, she is also the author of Greater Good, Splendor, Bossa Nova, Rust, Sans-Culottes in the Promised Land, 103 Within the Veil, and The Gibson Girl. She has developed her work at Sundance (Utah and Ucross), Magic Theatre, National New Play Network, Page 73 Productions, Bay Area Playwrights, Playwrights Horizons, New Dramatists, ASK, McCarter Theatre Center, and New Georges. She is a recipient of an NEA/TCG residency at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and was playwright-in-residence at Company One Theatre. She received Sundance’s Time Warner Award for Bossa Nova. Ms. Greenidge attended Wesleyan University and the University of Iowa’s Playwrights Workshop. A member of Rhombus and an alumna member of New Dramatists, she is currently working on commissions from Goodman Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Big Ten, The Kennedy Center, and Playwrights Horizons.
Melia Bensussen (Co-conceiver, Director, she/her) Huntington: We All Fall Down, Yerma, A Doll’s House, Awake and Sing!, Luck of the Irish, and Circle Mirror Transformation. Other directing credits include work with Hartford Stage, Shakespeare & Company, Trinity Repertory Company, Sleeping Weazel, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Merrimack Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, Baltimore Center Stage, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, New York Shakespeare Festival, MCC Theater, Primary Stages, Actors Theatre of Louisville, and many others. She has received two directing awards from the Princess Grace Foundation, including their top honor, the Statue Award for Sustained Excellence in Directing. Ms. Bensussen’s edition of Langston Hughes’ translation of Federico García Lorca’s Blood Wedding is published by Theatre Communications Group, and she is featured in Rebecca Daniels’ Women Stage Directors Speak, Nancy Taylor’s Women Direct Shakespeare, and in Jews, Theatre, Performance in an Intercultural Context. An Obie Award-winning director, she is on the executive board of the Society of Directors and Choreographers and serves as chair of the Arts Advisory Board for the Princess Grace Foundation. A longtime Emerson College faculty member, Ms. Bensussen is the Artistic Director of Hartford Stage.
In-person performances: May 27 – June 26, 2022
Select Evenings: Tues. – Thurs. at 7:30pm; Fri. – Sat. at 8pm; select Sun. at 7pm
Matinees: Select Wed., Sat., and Sun. at 2pm
Days and times vary; see complete schedule above.
Digital: Available June 20 until July 10, 2022
Anticipated running time: 2 hours 30 minutes, including one intermission
Press Opening: June 8, 2022
For photos, click here
The Huntington/Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA
527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston.
Tickets to in-person performances and to a digital recording of the performance start at $25. Season ticket packages and FlexPasses are also now on sale:
online at huntingtontheatre.org
by phone at 617-266-0800; or in person at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston
Select discounts apply:
$10 off: season ticket holders
$30 “35 Below” tickets for patrons 35 years old and younger (valid ID required)
$20 student and military tickets (valid ID required)
ACCESS PERFORMANCES FOR COMMON GROUND REVISITED
Tickets are $20 for each patron and their guests. To reserve tickets please email firstname.lastname@example.org, call ticketing services at 617-266-0800, or in person at the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA, 527 Tremont Street, South End, Boston. Accessible performances are supported in part by the Liberty Mutual Foundation.
ASL-INTERPRETED PERFORMANCE: Friday, June 10 at 8:00 pm. The Huntington offers American Sign Language interpretation at designated performances for patrons who are Deaf or hard of hearing.
OPEN CAPTIONED PERFORMANCE: Tuesday, June 14 at 7:30pm. The Huntington offers open captioning at designated performances for any patron who benefits from having the text of spoken dialogue visible in time with the play.
AUDIO-DESCRIBED PERFORMANCE: Saturday, June 25 at 2pm. The Huntington offers audio description for patrons who are blind or low-vision at designated performances. Please visit huntingtontheatre.org/visit/accessibility for information.
Large Print and Braille Programs will also be available for patrons at performances.
PODCAST: COMMON GROUND: IN PERSPECTIVE
During the past year, director Melia Bensussen and playwright Kirsten Greenidge created two podcast episodes for a series called Common Ground: In Perspective. Powered by The Huntington in partnership with Facing History and Ourselves, each episode features a short audio play followed by a conversation with local leaders and scholars to explore the history surrounding busing, school desegregation, education, and opportunity in the city of Boston. The podcast can be found at huntingtontheatre.org/plays-and-events/digital-events/common-ground-in-perspective.
Episode 1: The Mayor
This episode focuses on Mayor Kevin White and his clash with federal authorities over sending national guard troops to enforce busing, and features a panel discussion with Bishop John Borders III, Dr. Karilynn Crockett, and Professor Matthew Delmont, moderated by co-dramaturg Neema Avashia.
Episode 2: The Editor
This episode traces Boston Globe editor Tom Winship’s leadership of the paper through the busing era and discusses the role of media in shaping our perceptions, and features a panel discussion with veteran reporter Garry Armstrong and GBH reporter Phillip Martin, moderated by co-dramaturg Neema Avashia.
COVID SAFETY PROTOCOLS
The Huntington is committed to providing safe and healthy venues for our audiences, artists, staff, and community. All patrons must present either proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test in order to enter the theatre, and masks are required to be worn throughout the theatre. More information can be found at huntingtontheatre.org/covid.
Our specific policies and protocols are evolving and subject to change and will be communicated clearly to ticket holders in advance of their performance. Anyone not complying with safety protocols will not be admitted. The Huntington encourages any patrons who feel ill or test positive for COVID-19, to refrain from coming to the theatre, and to contact email@example.com to exchange their tickets into another performance or to a digital option.
If patrons ever feel as if they would rather not see Common Ground Revisited in person – for any reason – they can easily exchange their tickets into a specially recorded version of this play. OR, they can purchase tickets to the digital version of Common Ground Revisited in advance.
The digital recording of Common Ground Revisited will be available June 20 until July 10, 2022.
MEMBERS OF THE MEDIA:
Any members of the media who are interested in speaking with the artists of Common Ground Revisited, please contact Temple Gill, Director of Public Affairs and Strategic Partnerships at firstname.lastname@example.org or 617-273-1560.
Press night for critics is Wednesday, June 8, 2022. Please RSVP here for press night or other available performances.
Production photos will be available for download online, and b-roll footage can be requested.
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON
Celebrating its 40th season, The Huntington is Boston’s theatrical commons and leading professional theatre company. On our stages and throughout our city, we share enduring and untold stories that spark the imagination of audiences and artists and amplify the wide range of voices in our community. Committed to welcoming broad and diverse audiences, The Huntington provides life-changing opportunities for students through its robust education and community programs, is a national leader in the development of playwrights and new plays, acts as the host organization for a multi-year residency of The Front Porch Arts Collective, a Black theatre company based in Boston, and serves the local arts community through our operation of The Huntington Calderwood/BCA. Under the leadership of Norma Jean Calderwood Artistic Director Loretta Greco and Managing Director Michael Maso, The Huntington is currently conducting a transformational renovation of the historic Huntington Theatre, a storied venue with a bold vision for the future. The project will allow us to innovatively expand our services to audiences, artists, and the community for generations to come. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.
# # #
Photo: Stan Grossfeld, Courtesy of The Boston Globe