BLKS

by AZIZA BARNES

directed by ROBERT O’HARA

“TOP SHOW TO SEE!”

-THE NEW YORK TIMES

“A RAUCOUS COMEDY of misbehavior.”

-THE NEW YORK TIMES

From the theater that brought you the groundbreaking, hit comedies SCHOOL GIRLS; OR, THE AFRICAN MEAN GIRLS PLAY, COLLECTIVE RAGE & HAND TO GOD, comes another raucous, laugh-out-loud new play that will have you talking long after you leave the theater.

When shit goes down, your girls show up. As sharply funny as it is poignant, BLKS introduces us to Octavia (PAIGE GILBERT / MCC’s SCHOOL GIRLS), Imani (ALFIE FULLER / IS GOD IS ), and June (ANTOINETTE CROWE-LEGACY / IF PRETTY HURTS, UGLY MUST BE A MUFHUCKA)—three twenty somethings in New York City hunting for intimacy and purpose in a city that doesn’t seem to care. They drink a lot. They smoke a lot. They try to have sex. A lot.

When they need each other the most, the women rally to “resurrect their fly” in a day full of humorous and painful attempts to be heard through the noise that surrounds them. ROBERT O’HARA (BOOTY CANDY, MANKIND) directs. Poet AZIZA BARNES makes their playwriting debut which signifies the arrival of a wholly original voice.

Newman Mills Theater at
THE ROBERT W. WILSON
MCC THEATER SPACE
511 W 52 ST
NY, NY 10019

CLOSED MAY 3, 2019

BLKS is a STUNNER of a theatrical debut!

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“BLKS is a STUNNER of a theatrical debut by AZIZA BARNES! 

– THE NEW YORK TIMES

“BLKS is the kind of comedy you watch with one hand covering your eyes, and the other suspending your dropped jaw.”

-THEATERMANIA

“DARING and VERY, VERY FUNNY.”

-THE HOLLYWOOD REPORTER

“RAMBUNCTIOUS and MESSY and SMART.”

NEW YORK STAGE REVIEW

“COMEDY is the TOP NOTE in ROBERT O’HARA’s HOLD-ONTO-YOUR-SEATS staging.”

THE NEW YORK TIMES

“UNVARNISHED and totally UNINHIBITED, AZIZA BARNES’ debut is hilarious in the most uncomfortable ways and KEEPS US LAUGHING FOR 90 MINUTES.  

THEATERMANIA

PAIGE GILBERT (MCC’s SCHOOL GIRLS) interview with YES BROADWAY

Tell us about BLKS.

BLKS is a slice of life of three young twenty-somethings in Brooklyn figuring it out…and figuring it out by drinking, smoking, partying, having fun, and basically trying to avoid their own self-loathing.

I love it. Who do you play?

I play Octavia and Octavia is wild. Octavia is brash. Her defense mechanism is basically to be loud, and she’s afraid of letting people “in” so she deflects by being as loud and open as she possibly can. She’s like “Instead of me being intimate with you, I’m gonna tell you too much so hopefully that’ll repel you from me.”

MCC is obviously a special place for you as it is for so many people. What do you love about working at MCC?

There’s a reason why you want to be here. It’s because the people who are working for MCC genuinely care about what they’re doing. They don’t produce plays that they don’t care about, and I think that that’s extremely important. You know, and also just a sense of family and a sense of care. Doing, School Girls, even in the second run, Will and Bernie would come and they would just be there and you’re like “What are you doing here? But, like, thank you for being here because I feel supported.”

SCHOOL GIRLS / photo by JOAN MARCS

MEET THE CAST

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video courtesy of our partners from BOLD NYC

“LAUGH-OUT-LOUD FUNNY, all night long.”

-CHICAGO TRIBUNE

“A RAUNCHY, ACTION-PACKED ADVENTURE COMEDY.”

-WASHINGTON POST

“BLKS is a TRIUMPH.”

-BROADWAY WORLD

CAST

PAIGE GILBERT

Octavia

PAIGE GILBERT

Octavia

After recently reprising the role of Gifty in the Drama Desk Award winning School Girls; Or The African Mean Girls Play, Paige is thrilled to be returning to MCC Theatre and to be part of the inaugural season here at their new home. Paige is grateful to Aziza for creating a body of work that provides an important platform for LGBTQ people of color, enabling Paige to continue the work she has begun as a core member of the STUDIO, where marginalized actors are embolden and nurtured into stage, television and film careers. Paige’s most recent credits include Late Night with Emma Thompson and Mindy Kaling and ADAM, both Official Selections of 2019 Sundance International Film Festival, HBO series “The Deuce” and “High Maintenance.” Much love to everyone at Telsey, MCC, Jenevieve, Brad and the STUDIO family.

CORAL PEÑA

Ry

CORAL PEÑA

Ry

She originates from Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and was raised in Harlem, New York. She has studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and is a proud graduate of New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Recent projects include: Steven Spielberg’s The Post and FOX’s “24: Legacy”. She can be seen most recently in NBC’s new drama “The Enemy Within” starring Morris Chestnut and Jennifer Carpenter. She is excited to be making her Off-Broadway debut. She wants to thank her agents at Innovative Artists and her amazing family for all their continuous love and support.

ALFIE FULLER

Imani

ALFIE FULLER

Imani

Is God Is (Soho Rep. Obie winner, Drama League nom), Artney Jackson (Williamstown), Dangerous House (Williamstown. Berkshires Best Actress nom), Red Card Yellow Card (New Ohio), Antony & Cleopatra (Am. Theatre of Actors). She has also worked with numerous theatre companies including Playwrights Horizons, Long Wharf, Labyrinth, The Vineyard, The Alliance, Playwrights Realm and Arena Stage. Film/TV: Standing8 (Urban Film Festival winner), Simoune, We Don’t Know What We’re Doing. New School for Drama MFA, Hampton University BA. @TheAlfieShow

ANTOINETTE CROWE-LEGACY

June

ANTOINETTE CROWE-LEGACY

June

MCC debut. Antoinette graduated in 2018 from Yale School of Drama, where she played in shows such as The Three Sisters, Seven Guitars, and Our Lady of 121st Street. Born and raised in Texas, she attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas where she played in The Colored Museum, The Women, and more. TV: “Godfather of Harlem” premiering in 2019 on Epix. Off-Broadway Credits: If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka (Playwrights Horizons).

CHRIS MYERS

Justin

CHRIS MYERS

Justin

Selected Theatre: Henry IV pts 1 &2 (with Tom Hanks), An Octoroon (Soho Rep; Obie Award for Acting), Julius Caesar (The Public/Shakespeare in the Park), Whorl Inside A Loop (Second Stage Theater), The Winter’s Tale (The Public), On The Grounds of Belonging (The Public), Little Children Dream of God (Roundabout Underground), War (Lincoln Center/ LCT3), Brownsville Song (Lincoln Center/LCT3), Fences (McCarter/Long Wharf; Dir – Phylica Rashad), A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Shakespeare Theater DC). TV: “The Resident” (FOX), “Sneaky Pete (Amazon),” “She’s Gotta Have It (Netflix – Dir: Spike Lee),” “The Break with Michelle Wolf (Netflix),” “The Good Fight (CBS),” “The Breaks (VH1).” Chris has also written and produced two short films, “Post-Emma” and “The Interruption” along with a half hour comedy about gentrification called “GUAP.” Training: Juilliard. His work and more can be found at chrismyersinc.com. Instagram/Twitter: @chrismyersinc.

MARIÉ BOTHA

That Bitch on the Couch

MARIÉ BOTHA

That Bitch on the Couch

Recently graduated from the Yale School of Drama, where she was seen in Mies Julie, Slave Play, Titus AndronicusSweatBlood Wedding and New Domestic Architecture. Originally from South Africa, she had a recurring role on the television drama “Erfsondes. Other credits include: Circling the Drain and Slouch (Yale Cabaret); Alice in WonderlandAntarctica! Which is to say Nowhere (Yale Summer Cabaret); Cate in Sarah Kane’s Blasted (DUO Theater); Grace in Lars Von Trier’s Dogville(Tisch School of the Arts) and Elizabeth I in Mary Stuart (The Meisner Studio, NYU) both directed by Robert O’Hara. Marié is thrilled to make her MCC debut. Thanks to the fam, the team and the man of my heart.

Creative Team

Aziza Barnes

playwright

Aziza Barnes

playwright

Aziza Barnes is blk & alive. Aziza’s play BLKS premiered in December 2017 at Steppenwolf Theatre Company, following with its production at Woolly Mammoth in February 2018. Winner of the 2015 Pamet River Prize, Aziza’s first full length collection i be but i ain’t is from YesYes Books 2016. Aziza is a Cave Canem Fellow and co-host of the podcast The Poetry Gods.

Robert O'Hara

director

Robert O'Hara

director

ROBERT O’HARA has received the NAACP Best Director Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding New Play, two Obies and the Oppenheimer Award. He directed the world premieres of Nikkole Salter and Dania Guiria’s In the Continuum, Tarell McCraney’s The Brother/ Sister Plays (Part 2), Colman Domingo’s Wild with Happy, Kirsten Childs’ Bella: An American Tall Tale, as well as his own plays, Mankind, Bootycandy and Insurrection: Holding History. His recent plays Zombie: The American and Barbecue world premiered at Woolly Mammoth Theater and New York Shakespeare Festival, respectively. His recent directing projects include, Kirsten Child’s Bubbly Black Girl at City Center/Encores Off Center, the Universes’ Uni/Son, inspired by the poetry of August Wilson at Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Shakespeare’s Macbeth at Denver Center for the Performing Arts. He holds a Directing MFA from Columbia University.

set design by CLINT RAMOS
costume design by DEDE AYITE 
lighting design by ALEX JAINCHILL 
sound design by PALMER HEFFERAN
hair,wig and makeup design by J. JARED JANAS
intimacy and fight director CLAIRE WARDEN

casting by TELSEY + COMPANY/ ADAM CALDWELL, CSA, WILL CANTLER, CSA, KARYN CASL, CSA 

production photography DEEN VAN MEER
house photography DA PING LUO

key art photography by CHIOMA NWANA
trailer song credit “Move Biatch” by MA’AT (@i.am.Maat)

Press

LET’S TALK SERIES

Join us for our for post-show TALKBACKS  with artists and AUDIENCES CONVERSATIONS moderated by MCC staff held following select performances and for SPECIAL EVENTS aimed at provoking conversation and public engagement. 

LEARN MORE

AUDIENCE CONVERSATIONS

THU, APR 25 with BRANDON WEBSTER

THU, MAY 2 with CARRIE AZANO

SUN, MAY 5 with IANNE FIELDS STEWART

THU, MAY 16 with CARRIE AZANO

WED, MAY 22 with BRANDON WEBSTER

COMMUNITY SPECIFIC CONVERSATIONS

THU, APR 25 with IANNE FIELDS STEWART (for those who identify as People of Color)

THU, MAY 2 with IANNE FIELDS STEWART (for those who identify as People of Color)

THU, MAY 16 with IANNE FIELDS STEWART (for those who identify as People of Color)

THU, MAY 23 with BRANDON WEBSTER (for those who identify as People of Color)

THU, MAY 30 with BRANDON WEBSTER (for those who identify as People of Color)

For more information email [email protected] with any questions .

OTHER EVENTS

“MISS JESSIE’S NIGHT” 

THU, MAY 30, 7PM
use code MISSJESSIES for 20% off preferred seats

 

 

“NEED A DAMN DRINK” FRIDAY

After the show, we are keeping the party going with a free drink and music!

Each audience member will receive ONE voucher in their playbills for a complimentary beer/wine/soda only. Valid ID required for alcoholic beverages. Limited to audiences who attended the performance that evening. 

BLACK THEATER NIGHTS

SUN, APR 28 at 7PM

FRI, MAY 10 at 8PM
use code BTN

STUDENT MATINEE

WED, MAY 22 at 2:00 PM

LEARN MORE

Complimentary for NYC DOE schools

TWITTER CHAT

#LetsTalkFemaleBlackComedy

WED, MAY 8 from 1 to 2PM (FREE)

TWEET THIS

BOLD MCC WRITERS

How Healing & Pain Can Create Comedy

MAY 10, 17, 23 & 30, 4:30 to 6PM

Free writing workshops for Black Women Only, with guest artists including Aziza Barnes, Jocelyn Bioh, and Erika Dickerson-Despenza

MCC & #FREETOO YOGA

An intentional space for yoga, healing justice, mindfulness, and community building for Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

SAT, MAY 18 from 4PM to 6PM

Email [email protected] to register/for more information.

So, how do you say ‘BLKS’? 

The title is quite cheeky because the Chicago-based poet AVERY R. YOUNG coined the word BLKS because it’s about people not about a color. We are Black. And it’s also fun to frazzle people who then have to say it. Say it! We’re Black people.

-AZIZA BARNES, playwright

BLKS playlist

We can’t get enough of this playlist from PALMER HEFFERAN (Sound Design, BLKS) that is inspiring the sound design of our New York premiere of BLKS.

In CONVERSATION with the PLAYWRIGHT

The title is quite cheeky because the Chicago-based poet AVERY R. YOUNG coined the word BLKS because it’s about people not about a color. We are Black. And it’s also fun to frazzle people who then have to say it. Say it! We’re Black people. Cuz I was in school with a bunch of very delusional neo-liberal people who would say “I just don’t see race.” To which I say, “Bitch you better! What is wrong with you?” I see it as such a fearful erasure, it’s dangerous not to see, and it’s dangerous to say it’s not your politics.

In reflecting on my own experiences to write the play I realized my friends and I are fucking funny. It’s the thing to deal with the thing. Like the laugh so you don’t cry thing. I’m not interested in writing people who are miserable and sad. I’m interested in people who run from it, creatively, until they can’t anymore. So it’s a comedy. Like shit, please let it be a comedy. People are so fucking sad, it needs to be a comedy.

As outrageous as they are, that’s the only way they deal with it. I mean if they were like “dang my boyfriend cheated on me” and “dang my dad’s dead” and “dang I don’t know what my own brain is doing…” Jesus Christ no. I think of the horrors of my life, why I felt so out of my body and mind, like the only thing that would have helped was to laugh and to put on some makeup and a wig. It’s just horrifying, and you can’t walk around being horrified all the time.

 

“…it’s about PEOPLE not about a color. We are BLACK. And it’s also FUN to FRAZZLE people who then have to say it.”

 

“…I’m not interested in writing people who are miserable and sad. I’m INTERESTED IN PEOPLE WHO RUN FROM IT, creatively, until they can’t anymore.”

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THE ROBERT W. WILSON MCC THEATER SPACE

 

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