'Colored Museum' director in original cast

Cal Lutheran to present play for Black History Month

Brianna Bryan and Cristian Lipps appear in one of the vignettes presented as if they were exhibits in a museum of African-American history.

Photo: Brian Stethem

(THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – Jan. 23, 2018) A Thousand Oaks woman who appeared in the original 1986 production of “The Colored Museum” is directing the play at California Lutheran University.

The production directed by Saundra McClain will begin at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 through 10 and at 2 p.m. Feb. 11 in the Black Box Studio Theatre on the Thousand Oaks campus. The Department of Theatre Arts and Dance is presenting the play in celebration of Black History Month.

“The Colored Museum” satirizes the black experience in America, from slavery to Ebony magazine. Still timely, the controversial comedy skewers exaggerated images of and extreme stereotypes about African-American life.

George C. Wolfe’s play contains 11 vignettes presented as if they were exhibits in a museum of African-American history. Cal Lutheran’s unique staging is presented in the round, with the normally static statues moving periodically so they can be seen by the audience on all sides of the stage.

Sonora Carroll, a criminal justice major who has been involved in theater productions since high school, raised her concern about the difficulty of finding roles written specifically for minority actors with a theater professor, and that discussion led the department to present an African-American play under the direction of an African-American director. With input from McClain and Carroll, they settled on “The Colored Museum.”

McClain has more than 40 years of experience in theater, film and television as an actor, director and writer. She is concurrently rehearsing for her role as Mama in “A Raisin in the Sun” with the Pasadena theater company A Noise Within and directing “Oh Freedom! The Story of the Underground Railroad” in Rancho Cucamonga. This means she finds herself directing a farce of the mama-on-the-couch scene from “A Raisin in the Sun” one day for “The Colored Museum” and rehearsing the actual scene the next day for the Pasadena production. 

With a cast of only seven students and vignettes featuring small groupings of actors, McClain has been able to work closely with each of the cast members. They are Babatunde Awe, a communication major with a concentration in film and television from Inglewood; Jordan Bedgood, a theater arts major from Ventura; Brianna Bryan, a business administration major from Canoga Park; Georgia Caines, a theater arts major from Simi Valley; Carroll, of Bothell, Wash.; Olivia Leyva, an English major from La Canada; and Cristian Lipps, a communication major from North Hills.

Tickets, which are available at the door, are $10. The theater is located at 141 Memorial Parkway. For more information, call 805-493-3452. 

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