SEASON 11 - 2004

Passing

February / March 1999

by Sheri Bailey & Nancy Cheryll Davis

Towne Street Theater presents its highly praised production of Sheri Bailey's play, itself an adaptation of Nella Larsen's bold Harlem Renaissance novel about two black women in 1920s New York, and their experiences with passing for white. Yet Passing is not just about racial identity; it's about identity, period. The two main characters, Irene and Clare, are estranged childhood friends who reunite after 20 years to discover that they've both been living a lie.

Press Review

 

Recommended by L.A.Weekly 

Written by: Mary Beth Crain

 

In celebration of both Black History Month and its own 10th anniversary, Towne Street Theatre has revived its highly praised 1997 production of Sheri Bailey's play, itself an adaptation of Nella Larsen's bold Harlem Renaissance novel about two black women in 1920s New York, and their experiences with passing for white.

 

Yet, Passing is not just about racial identity; it's about identity, period. The two main characters, Irene and Clare, are estranged childhood friends who reunite after 20 years to discover that they've both been living a lie. Irene, the wife of a prominent black doctor, hides her lesbian past under suffocating layers of silks and brocades as a society matron. Fair enough to pass for Italian or Portuguese, she occasionally plays white for convenience.

 

Clare is also fair enough to pass for white - enough so to be the wife of a rich, "nigger"-hating white man who, after some 15 years, still hasn't figured out he's married his favorite epithet. While the story sometimes descends into dated melodrama, it's rescued by Bailey's sharp, cynical dialogue and fine performances from the entire ensemble, particularly Nancy Cheryll Davis as Clare, Lira Angel as Irene, and Katherine Lorien and Lia Johnson as the young Clare and Irene, respectively.

 

And Joan Francis' incredible costumes help to imbue the production with the complicated essence of the Jazz Age, a curious mixture of inhibition and outrageousness, glitz and pathos, cynicism and despair.

 

~//~

 

Audience Reviews

 

Hello! I saw "Passing" on its' last night and it was simply wonderful!! And fantastic!! - Thanks! 

Joni S.

 

I had the pleasure of seeing Passing this past Sunday. I'd be happy to spread the word on your upcoming events.

Mel E. Betts

Celebrating our 26th Season!

CONTACT:

info@townestreetla.org

(213) 712-6944

MAILING ADDRESS:

Towne Street Theatre

4101 Budlong Ave., Suite 4

Los Angeles, CA 90037

IN RESIDENCE:

Stella Adler Theatre

6773 Hollywood Blvd.

Los Angeles, CA 90028

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