Dave Harris’ Tambo & Bones officially opens in Playwrights Horizons' Mainstage Theater February 7. The production began previews January 19, one week later than originally announced due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant. The Off-Broadway theatre company is also requiring all audience members receive booster shots in advance of attending.
The world premiere, directed by Taylor Reynolds and co-presented with Center Theatre Group, runs through February 27. Performance dates at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre are May 1-29 with an official opening May 8.
W. Tré Davis (Seared, Zooman and the Sign) and Tyler Fauntleroy (Tempest, Succession) play the title characters and are joined by Brendan Dalton (Plano, Blue Man Group) and Dean Linnard (Time Temple, The Winter’s Tale).
Tambo and Bones are two characters trapped in a minstrel show, and their escape plan is to get out, get bank, and get even. A rags-to-riches hip-hop journey, the new comedy roasts America’s racist past, wrestles America’s racist present, and explodes America’s post-racial future, where what’s at stake, for those deemed less-than-human, is the fate of humanity itself.
The play was conceived as Harris considered his artistic origins doing poetry slams, and how he often found an expectation for Black artists to revisit and present trauma, often for largely white audiences.
The playwright said in an earlier statement, “I was working through this and thinking through minstrelsy as the beginning of Black fictive imaginations and Black performative capitalism. Minstrelsy is so demonized in society, but it was also a pathway to freedom for so many performers. So much of this play is about individual agency and upwards mobility within these given systems. And once you have the freedom to create your own world, what then are you reaching for? In my play, the characters’ relationship to the playwright is: ‘You had the possibility to dream up any world you could have and the extent of your imagination was to put us in a minstrel show? You’re doing this, why?’”
The creative team also includes scenic designer Stephanie Osin Cohen, costume designer Dominique Fawn Hill, co-lighting designers Amith Chandrashaker and Mextly Couzin, sound designer Mikhail Fiksel, composer Justin Ellington, stage manager John C. Moore, and assistant stage manager Bryan Bauer.