Through April 25th, Jeff Talbott’s, The Submission is making its Philadelphia premiere at Walnut Street Theatre Studio 5. A four character play about our assumptions on race, gender and sexual preference, Talbott gets the audience asking questions about our own hidden prejudices. The inaugural recipient of the Laurents/Hatcher Award in 2011, “The Submission” was produced Off-Broadway receiving the Outer Critics Circle Award and the John Gassner Memorial Playwriting Award for New American Play in 2012.
Danny has written a play which he has submitted to the Humana Festival. But when the festival selects his play to be produced in a workshop setting, he is faced with a dilemma. Danny is a white male who has written a play about African Americans. Worried that the play would not be perceived as “authentic enough”, he had submitted the play under a female pseudonym – which sounds vaguely African American. Not wanting to reveal the deceit, he decides to hire Emilie, an African American actress, to pretend to be the playwright. The plan is that Emilie will feign being the writer at all production meetings and subsequent rehearsals and report the proceedings back to Danny. After the play’s first premiere performance, Emilie is to give a speech that will reveal the playwright’s true identity. But as Robert Burns said, “The best laid schemes o’ Mice n’ Men, gang aft agley.” And things don’t turn out quite the way anyone would have imagined.
Andy Shaw portrays Danny as an anxious, troubled artist who somehow cannot believe in his own humanity. His inner angst manifests itself through a series of nervous tics and squints. As artists we are all human beings and can empathize with all our brethren, no matter their color, sex or creed. But Talbott’s protagonist is so insecure in his artistic abilities, and so self-conscious that he is not the same race as his characters, that he needs to hide behind someone who is the real McCoy to be his mouthpiece. Hilary Asare is striking in her poised, assured interpretation of Emilie, a hungry actress who becomes enthralled with the whole workshop process. Doug Cashell does a standout job as Danny’s very grounded best friend and colleague, Trevor, who eventually becomes romantically entangled with Emilie. Shamus Hunter McCarty gives a nice turn as Danny’s understanding partner adding a bit of comic relief to the evening. Director Rich Rubin shows admirable expertise as he keeps the piece progressing, moving his actors economically around the small studio space which alternately turns into a coffee shop, an apartment, a hotel room and onstage at the festival.
In 2015 we are still seeing the effects of racism and misunderstanding erode our society and who we are as a people and a country. “The Submission” once again, opens the door to this necessary ongoing conversation.
For tickets go to WWW.QUINCEPRODUCTIONS.COM FOR INFO CALL 215-627-1088
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