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Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

Almost Nothing / Day of Absence at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (San Francisco)

As part of the new season, two one-act plays, ALMOST NOTHING and DAY OF ABSENCE, at Lorraine Hansberry Theatre in San Francisco until November 20, 2011.

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre

Beginning its 31st season in San Francisco, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre (LHT) is a story unto itself, rising from a yearlong struggle which nearly closed the doors on this popular institution of artistic and cultural heritage.   Despite the deaths of its founders, Stanley E. Williams and Quentin Easter within the same year,  the LHT has continued with the support of its dedicated board of directors and now stands firm with new leadership and a new home.

The current season begins with two short plays, each complete in one act.  “Day of Absence” was written by Douglas Turner Ward.  A satire written in 1965 and winner of the Vernon Rice and OBIE awards, “Day of Absence” recounts the  occurrences  in a southern town when all of the African Americans suddenly disappear.

Despite the passage of time since this play was written, many of the attitudes and comments of characters (actors in whiteface) still prevail in our society.  Unlike the Ray Bradbury science fiction story about a permanent disappearance of African Americans in an earlier period, we are given humorous sequences as the town leaders scramble for maximum political advantage – in the form of ridicule, slapstick and “black comedy.”  This play works most of the time, and is an entertaining departure for the LHT.  Infectious beatboxing by Carlos Aguirre complements and connects the funny moments onstage.

“Almost Nothing”  was written by the award-winning playwright Marcos Barbosa, and it takes a completely different tone.  A prosperous husband and wife return to their well-appointed home after a major social event.  All seems well.  As we follow their dialogue and deliberate movements and interactions with two other characters, we become aware of an undercurrent.  And we are spellbound.

A sparkling opening night for the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre  with the playwright Douglas Turner Ward in the audience, along with Delroy Lindo and Danny Glover.  Ward founded the Negro Ensemble Company in New York in 1967.  As a result of his pioneering work and that of his contemporaries, The Negro Ensemble Company has produced more than 200 plays and became the place for actors of color to gain experience and prominence in the theatre.

Several   fine actors who often perform in LHT productions continue to impress in these two short plays, along with newer faces, including Rudy Guerrero, the lovely Carla Punch, Wilma Bonet, Kathryn Tkel, Michael J. Asberry, Carla Pantoja, Rajiv Shah and Rhonnie Washington.

For information about the current season at the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre, please visit http://lhtsf.org.

About Jeanne Powell

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Jeanne Powell is a poet and short story writer, who teaches in a summer program for teens. Her most recent books are “My Own Silence” and “Word Dancing,” available online and through booksellers. She also hosts spoken word events in San Francisco, and covers cultural happenings for online media.