'The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World' by Suzan-Lori Parks Explodes Stereotypes about African-Americans
Symposium and Audience Talk-Back to Provide Context for the CalArts Performances
March 1, 2011, Valencia, CA - Wildly exaggerated characters and extreme dialects distinguish The Death of the Last Black Man in the Entire World by Suzan-Lori Parks, which will be performed at California Institute of the Arts (CalArts) School of Theater on Thursday-Saturday, March 17-19 and Monday, March 21 at 8 pm, with a 2 pm matinee on Saturday, March 19. Performances will be in E400 on the CalArts campus (24700 McBean Parkway, Valencia 91355). General admission is $10 and $2 for CalArts students and associates with valid ID. For reservations, please visit www.calarts.edu/calendar.
The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World explores damaging stereotypes of African-American culture by means of characters like “Black Man with Watermelon,” “Black Woman with Fried Drumstick,” and “Lots of Grease and Lots of Pork.” A firm believer in “re-membering” history so that it is never forgotten, Parks unapologetically displays the grotesque and sensationalized images that have been projected on the black community. Extreme and in-your-face, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World provokes reflection about racism, social identity, and the importance of heritage.
On March 18th immediately following the performance, there will be a talkback, led by CalArts professor, Nataki Garrett. On Saturday March 19th, there will be a symposium from 3:30 pm to 5:00 pm led by Douglas Kearney, faculty of Critical Studies at CalArts. These events will focus on issues and concepts brought up in the play and also the style of Suzan-Lori Parks and how it informs the content of the work. Both events will take place in E400.
Suzan-Lori Parks is an African-American playwright and screenwriter. She received the MacArthur Foundation "Genius" Grant in 2001 and the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for her play, Topdog/Underdog.
The production will be directed by Armando Molina, Artistic Director of Company of Angels. Recent directing credits include Chasing Monsters by Gabriel Rivas Gomez, The Ghost Building by Damon Chua at Company of Angels, and Visitors Guide to Arivaca by Evangeline Ordaz at Teatro Vision and Company of Angels. Armando was also co-founder of Latins Anonymous, the critically acclaimed Latino comedy group, which satirized the Latin community and common stereotypes associated with Latin culture. “I know what it means to be marginalized, degraded, and hyperbolized in mainstream media,” says Molina. “My intention with this play is to explode the stereotypes and blow them up for all to see for their comical yet horrible existence.”
CalArts is unique in its multidisciplinary approach to studying the arts through its six related schools: Art, Critical Studies, Dance, Film/Video, Music and Theater. CalArts encourages students to recognize and explore the complexity of the aesthetic, social and political aspects of the arts. It is supported by its distinguished faculty of practicing artists and provides its BFA and MFA students with both the hands-on training and the engagement with the cultural community necessary for artists’ growth. CalArts was founded in 1961—and opened in 1969—as the first institution of higher learning in the U.S. specifically for students interested in pursuing degrees in all areas of the visual and performing arts.