Thursday, April 18, 2013

Riverside and African-American Museum Team Up for Play Reading

Cedar Rapids - "Riverside Theatre, partnering with the African American Museum of Iowa, is holding a special reading of the play PERMANENT COLLECTION by Thomas Gibbons on Monday, April 22, 2013, 6:30PM at the African American Museum of Iowa, 55 12th Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, Iowa. A light reception follows the event. Tickets are pay-what-you-will at the door with a portion of the proceeds benefiting National New Play Network, the country's alliance of nonprofit theaters that champions the development, production and continued life of new plays. No ticket reservations are necessary, but please arrive 10 minutes early for seating considerations as space is limited.

This reading is part of a nationwide theatre event of readings of the play in over 25 cities to celebrate National New Play Network’s (NNPN’s) 15th Anniversary. PERMANENT COLLECTION was NNPN's first Rolling World Premiere.

The play raises important questions about unbalanced cultural representations in public art collections. Playwright Thomas Gibbons summed up the conflict of the play in a Washington Post interview saying, 'A museum, whether it's a history museum or an art museum, encapsulates a certain way of looking at our heritage. It's a kind of social agreement that what we see on the walls is what is the best . . . of our heritage, so when somebody says, 'Well, wait a minute, you're leaving some things out,' it becomes a battleground.'

The reading, directed by Riverside Theatre’s artistic director, Jody Hovland, features James Robinson, Joyce McKinley, Eddie Skaggs, Ron Clark, Niki Franco and Ottavia De Luca.

Soon after African-American businessman Sterling North becomes the new director of the Morris Foundation, he discovers that this world-famous art collection includes several significant African sculptures tucked away in storage. His proposal to add them to the public galleries is opposed by the foundation's long-time education director, who is loyal to the idiosyncratic wishes of the late Dr. Morris. Spurred on by a zealous local journalist, this clash quickly escalates to public accusations of racism and a bitter struggle for of the collection. Permanent Collection is a searing examination of racial politics that ultimately asks how much space -- literally and figuratively -- the white world gives to African-Americans. What is the cost of failing to view the world through another's eyes?

While listening to the reading of PERMANENT COLLECTION, a fascinating play about how cultural biases can determine access to public artwork, the audience will be surrounded by the temporary art exhibit, West Africa - Before the Boats. This exhibit includes artifacts, photos and hands-on activities that illustrate the diverse cultures and complex societies of western Africa."

(Source: Riverside Theatre Press Release)

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