LA MAMA PRESENTS:
A NEW PLAY BY CATHERINE FILLOUX
STARRING MARIETTA HEDGES
DIRECTED BY ELEANOR HOLDRIDGE
In anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, Selma ‘65 explores the virtually unknown stories, and double lives, of Viola Liuzzo and Tommy Rowe.
World Premiere September 26th, 2014 at the
La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (74A E 4th St)
SELMA ‘65 – a new solo play from award-winning playwright Catherine Filloux – is set to make its world-premiere at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club (74A E 4th St.) on Friday, September 26th, 2014. Based on true events, SELMA ‘65 stars Marietta Hedges and is directed by Eleanor Holdridge.
Performances of SELMA ‘65 will be held Wednesday through Sunday evenings at 7:30 pm with a matinee on Saturday and Sunday at 2:30 pm. Beginning on Friday, September 26th, SELMA ‘65 will play its final performance on Sunday, October 12th, 2014.
In anticipation of the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Selma Voting Rights Movement, Bloody Sunday and the Voting Rights Act, Filloux’s newest work explores the civil rights movement from the perspectives of white activist Viola Liuzzo and FBI informant Tommy Rowe. Rowe was among the Ku Klux Klan members who overtook and gunned down Liuzzo’s Oldsmobile on March 25, 1965. The Klan targeted Ms. Liuzzo, who witnessed racial hatred first hand as a young girl, whilst she drove African-American freedom fighters to safety following the historic March to Montgomery. Ms. Hedges tackles both roles, switching between characters throughout the 75-minute production.
About taking on the story, Catherine Filloux believes it was a necessary step towards preserving history in the minds of theatergoers and staying in-line with her dedication to activism. “As a playwright I focus predominantly on human rights, exploring issues of genocide and other forms of state violence, its crimes and scars. I always choose subject matter, which I personally feel most urgently about. In this case, it is the erosion of our civil rights. The long and often bloody struggle to win the right to vote is obviously ongoing. The Supreme Court recently struck down the heart of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. And as long as the rights of minority voters remain in jeopardy, the play becomes even more crucial to society.”
“SELMA ’65 brings a virtually unknown story in United States’ history to light,” adds Filloux. “In my story, I juxtapose the poetic with the brutal reality of violence and the individual moments of choice within the whirlwind of history.”
And in an effort to include the audience in a dialogue the play creates, select performances will offer special post-show panel discussions featuring renowned authors, journalists and activists. The still-growing list already includes author Gary May, Reverend Richard Leonard, voting rights expert Steven Carbó, Eleanor J. Bader and Serena Solomon.
Ever the activist, Marietta Hedges realizes the opportunity to tell the oft-forgotten story and continue standing up for the things she believes in. “As an actress whose work focuses on socio-political issues, Viola’s story is of the kind I want to tell,” she said. “It’s one with a strong female protagonist and compelling civic issues. I quickly learned that few knew of this woman and the man at the center of her death, an undercover FBI informant, Gary Thomas Rowe (Tommy). We hear so much about the martyred men of the movement, African-American and White, but very little of the contribution made by women.”
She adds that “Viola’s story is a rich history of the march, questionable FBI tactics and
an activist at the cusp of second wave feminism. The issues presented in SELMA ’65 are ones we are still dealing with almost 50 years later. In this so-called ‘post-racial’ age, we have seen major portions of the voting rights act gutted alongside a well-organized backlash against African Americans and women. Enacting Liuzzo¹ s story is the strongest way I have to address these issues.”
Empowering women is a subject that’s also on Marietta’s mind, especially when it comes to seeking out roles that may seem unorthodox on paper. “Additionally, playing both Viola and Tommy will make for exciting theatrical storytelling, affording me the chance to play a man¹s role. Women are still fighting for parity in the American Theater. And it is time our profession, which encourages men to play women¹s roles, extends the same artistic challenge to its female artists.”
Marietta Hedges is a theater artist based in Washington, DC. She has acted in theaters and theater festivals in New York, London, China, Baltimore, Washington, DC and San Francisco. Like SELMA ’65, much of her work centers on issues of social justice. She co-created Fear UP, a docudrama about the war in Iraq and the torture of prisoners at Guantanamo and originated the role of Tammy in Jack Gilhooley’s post-war drama The Warrior. She also appeared as Karen in the award-winning HBO film Money Matters. Marietta is an Associate Professor of Acting at Catholic University where she heads the MFA acting program. She received her MFA from Columbia University. Marietta has appeared in both The Taming of the Shrew and Turandot at La MaMa and she considers it to one of her artistic homes. She is thrilled be returning there with this new work.
Catherine Filloux is an award-winning playwright and Artist in Residence at La MaMa, who has been writing about human rights and social justice for more than twenty years. Her plays and libretti have been produced around the world, some of which were commissioned works for the Vienna State Opera House, Book Wings Iraq, Contemporary American Theater Festival, and the Houston Grand Opera. Her credits include over twenty plays, including Luz, Dog and Wolf, Lemkin’s House, Killing the Boss, The Beauty Inside, Eyes of the Heart, Silence of God and Mary and Myra. She is the librettist for New Arrivals, Where Elephants Weep, and The Floating Box. Ms. Filloux is also featured in the documentary film, Acting Together on the World Stage.
Eleanor Holdridge (Director) has Off-Broadway productions that include Steve & Idi, (Rattlestick Playwrights Theatre), Cycling Past the Matterhorn (Clurman Theatre), The Imaginary Invalid, and Mary Stuart (Pearl Theatre Company). Regional credits include Zorro, which she co-wrote (Constellation Theatre), Double Indemnity (Roundhouse Theatre), The Gaming Table (Folger), God of Carnage and Pygmalion (Everyman Theatre), Something You Did and Body Awareness (Theatre J), Much Ado About Nothing (Taffety Punk), Gee’s Bend (Arden Theatre), Hamlet, Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, Lettice And Lovage, The Tempest, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew (Shakespeare & Company), The Crucible (Perseverance Theatre), Educating Rita, Noises Off and Art (Triad Stage), Julius Caesar and Macbeth (Milwaukee Shakespeare), Two Gentlemen of Verona (Alabama Shakespeare), Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare St. Louis), Henry V (Shakespeare on the Sound), Betrayal (Portland Stage), and Lion In Winter (Northern Stage).
An integral part of New York City’s cultural landscape, La MaMa has a worldwide reputation for producing daring work in theatre, dance, performance art, and music that defies form and transcends boundaries of language, race, and culture. Founded in 1961 by theatre pioneer and legend Ellen Stewart, La MaMa is a global organization with creative partners and dedicated audiences around the world.
La MaMa presents an average of 60-70 productions annually, most of which are world premieres. To date, over 3,500 productions have been presented at La MaMa with artists from more than 70 nations. Honored with more than 30 OBIE Awards, dozens of Drama Desk and Bessie Awards, La MaMa’s programming is culturally diverse, cross-disciplinary and draws audiences from all walks of life.
For additional information and a full performance schedule, please call La MaMa at (212) 475-7710 or visit http://www.lamama.org.