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Alice Childress' 'Trouble in Mind' at Red Bank's Two River Theater

Two River Theater Company
Two River Theater Company
Two River Theater Company

Two River Theater Company continues its 2013/2014 Season with Trouble in Mind, a rediscovered American classic written in the 1950s by Alice Childress, and directed by Jade King Carroll. Performances will begin in Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, on Saturday, April 5 and continue through Sunday, April 27. The opening night performance is Friday, April 11 at 8pm. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or tworivertheater.org.

Alice Childress (the first African-American woman to have a play professionally produced in New York) uses a play-within-a-play structure to create a bitingly funny look at the complex, difficult, and often emotional way people talk about race—and a hilarious backstage drama about artists at work.

On the stage of a Broadway theater in New York City in the mid-1950s, a modern, recently integrated theater company has gathered for their first day of rehearsal of a new play called Chaos in Belleville, an anti-lynching Southern drama. But as the company rehearses, Wiletta, the African-American actress in the starring role, must find the courage to confront her white director about his interpretation of the play—setting off an explosive conversation about fear, power, race relations, and the struggle for public and private equality.

Alice Childress began her theatrical career as an actor with the American Negro Theatre and turned to playwriting in an effort to create more significant roles for black women. Trouble in Mind premiered in 1955 under her direction at an Off-Broadway theater, and was optioned for Broadway—pending rewrites demanded by white producers, who wanted a more conventional ending. Childress refused to compromise her vision for Broadway, and the production was eventually dropped. The play was published with her intended ending. Her other works include the plays Wedding Band and Wine in the Wilderness, and the young adult novel A Hero Ain’t Nothin’ but a Sandwich.

The company, directed by Jade King Carroll, includes Two River favorites Robert Hogan (On Borrowed Time), Brenda Pressley (In This House), Steven Skybell (The Electric Baby), and Hayley Treider (Present Laughter), and McKinley Belcher III (Invisible Man), Jonathan David Martin (War Horse), Tony Award-winner Roger Robinson (August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone),Brian Russell (The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial), and Amirah Vann (Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike).

Ticket prices range from $37 to $65, with discounts available for groups, seniors, and U.S. military personnel, their families, and veterans. A limited number of $20 tickets are available for every performance; $20 tickets may be partial view. Tickets for patrons under 30 are $24 and include the best available seats at every performance. Tickets are available from tworivertheater.org or 732.345.1400.

Two River’s Rechnitz Theater, 21 Bridge Avenue, Red Bank, New Jersey