Central Works opening production of its 2018 season Bamboozled by award-winning playwright Patricia Milton, originally scheduled to play Feb 17 – March 18, has extended through March 25th.
Central Works was incredulous that Bamboozled was not picketed by the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC). Instead, the response from audiences and the press alike was rollicking, described at it’s premiere as “funny, hectic and of the moment” “ and possessing a “humor that confronts racial bigotry, the legacy of slavery, and prejudice against gay women..” In Bamboozled, Abby is a young appraiser touring with the show “Antiques Roadtrip.” She’s a black woman from L.A. traveling in the south—Shelby County, Tennessee. When she’s accused of defrauding a Daughter of the Confederacy out of a fortune in Civil War heirlooms, Abby finds herself on the hook for a million dollars. Her legal team is flailing and her accuser is formidable. Should she cop a plea? Or take a long shot for justice?
The production, directed by Gary Graves, is the fourth writer/director comic collaboration between Central Works’ resident playwright and its company co-director. The all female cast includes Chelsea Bearce, Susan Jackson, Stacy Ross (member AEA), and Jeunée Simon, with dramaturgy by Victoria Evans Erville, stage management by Vanessa Ramos, costumes by Tammy Berlin, sound by Gregory Scharpen, and props by Debbie Shelley.
“Most of my plays deal with what we value, and what it costs us,” says playwright Milton. “The premise of Bamboozled is simple: we live in a country haunted by slavery and the Civil War. The nation emerged from conflict burdened with trauma and resentments. We have, in the generations since, continued to sustain unjust systems directly traceable to the institution of slavery. I wanted to write a play that challenged stereotypes we hold of the South, North, and West. I wanted to write a play about Southern women that didn’t erase women of color. I wanted to write a play that might start a conversation about our nation’s systemic economic injustice, stemming from our cotton slavery past.”
Patricia Milton is a Resident Playwright for Central Works and a long-term member of the Central Works Writers Workshop. Plays written for Central Works include: Bamboozled (2018), Hearts of Palm (2016), Enemies: Foreign and Domestic (2015), and Reduction in Force (2011). She is a recipient of the 2015 Outstanding World Premiere Play by Theatre Bay Area for Enemies: Foreign and Domestic, and Reduction in Force was voted 2011 “Best Local Play” in Broadway World’s annual poll. Her comedy Believers has enjoyed productions in Monterey and San Francisco, and has played for the past two years in Istanbul, Turkey. Her drama about the death penalty, Without Mercy, was presented at the Newfoundland Women’s Work Festival and was produced by Off Broadway West Theatre Company in San Francisco in 2017. Ms. Milton has had more than one hundred productions and readings of her plays internationally, including at the 3Girls Theatre, San Francisco Exploratorium, PlayGround SF, Woman’s Will, Women’s Theatre Project, Bay Area One Acts, and City Lights Theatre.
Gary Graves (director) has been a resident playwright and company co-director at Central Works since 1998. He has been a part of developing 58 world premiere productions with the company, many of which he has written and/or directed. Some of the other productions he has directed for the company include Winter, Edward King, Into the Beautiful North, Hearts of Palm, Enemies: Foreign and Domestic, Machiavelli’s The Prince, Lola Montez, Enemy Combatant, The Mysterious Mr. Looney, Misanthrope, Mata Hari, and Pyrate Story. He directed the company’s first collaboratively developed script, Roux, at the City Club in 1997. He also leads the Central Works Playwriting Program, and he teaches playwriting regularly at the Berkeley Rep School of Theater.
Chelsea Bearce (Savannah) is performing her first show with Central Works. She is a Benicia native and some of her favorite roles include Risa in Two Trains Running, Ronnette in Little Shop of Horrors and Esther in Intimate Apparel. Chelsea is a stand-up comedian of almost 10 years and also writes and produces sketch comedy and parodies. She has performed comedy all over the country and has a viral music video, Curvy.
Susan Jackson (Opal Anne) has performed as Joan Crawford, Jackie Kennedy, British poet Stevie Smith and Sarah Bernhardt. Other roles include Ouisa, Six Degrees Of Separation; Dr. Bearing in Wit; Martha, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf?; “B” in Three Tall Women,and the mother in Look Homeward, Angel. Most recently, she performed the role of Marion Peallin in Death Be Not Loud! with the Southern Railroad Theatre /3Girls Theatre Co./Entropy Productions, (TBA recommended) and last year at the Capital Fringe, where it received a positive review in The Washington Post. She’s thrilled to be in Bamboozled, testing her North Carolina Liberal roots.
Stacy Ross (Rochelle) recently appeared in Shakespeare in Love at the Marin Theatre Company. She lives and works in the Bay Area; 2017 credits include Symmetry Theatre (The Other Place), Aurora (Leni), and California Shakespeare Theatre (Much Ado About Nothing). Other theaters where she’s worked include ACT, Berkeley Rep, Center Stage (Baltimore) SF Playhouse, Arizona Theatre Company, 59E59 (New York) and the late, lamented San Jose Rep. She is a member of Actors Equity and Playground.
Jeunée Simon (Abby) has worked with Bay Area Children’s Theatre Company, Shotgun Players, Bread Box, Ragged Wing, Aluminous, Town Hall Theatre and more. She is a board member at TheatreFirst, where she was seen most recently in the world premiere of HeLa. She is also a company member at the Custom Made Theatre Company, where she recently appeared in Isaac’s Eye. Jeunée kicked off 2018 performing with Killing My Lobster in the San Francisco Sketchfest. And finally, she was honored to be the 2017 recipient of the RHE Artistic Fellowship from the RHE Charitable Foundation in partnership with Theatre Bay Area.
Victoria Evans Erville (Dramaturg) is the former artistic director of the African-American Shakespeare Company and Women’s Will. She has worked with several theatre companies throughout the BayArea including Marin Theatre Company, San Francisco Shakespeare and Brava for Women in the Arts. She is excited to be a part of the Central Works Bamboozled family.
For over 27 years Central Works has filled a special niche for theater artists in the San Francisco Bay Area, producing more new plays by local playwrights than any other company in the region. “The New Play Theater” utilizes three basic strategies: some are developed in the Central Works Writers Workshop, some are products of the Central Works Method, and some come to the company fully developed.
The Central Works Writers Workshop is an ongoing commissioning program established in 2012. Twice a year, in 12-week sessions, 8 local playwrights are selected to develop projects through informal readings and carefully directed discussions. For more information, visit our website: www.centralworks.org
Central Works Method plays bring together writer, actors and director at the very outset of the playwriting process. In a supportive workshop environment, group research and collective brainstorming contribute to the entire development of the script.