The West Coast premiere of Dave Harris' Tambo & Bones at Center Theatre Group’s Kirk Douglas Theatre in Los Angeles finishes performances May 29. The run, which opened May 8 after beginning previews May 1, is co-produced with Playwrights Horizons. Taylor Reynolds directs the production, having previously directed the world premiere at Playwrights earlier this year.
W. Tré Davis (Seared, Zooman and the Sign) and Tyler Fauntleroy (Tempest, Succession) reprise their roles leading the West Coast run, and are joined by returning cast members Tim Kopacz and Alexander Neher. Davis and Fauntleroy play the title characters, who are trapped in a minstrel show. The work, a rags-to-riches story that includes a hip-hop concert, journeys through America’s racist past and present, before turning to the future.
The play was conceived as Harris considered his artistic origins doing poetry slams, and how he 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 includes Stephanie Osin Cohen (scenic designer), Dominique Fawn Hill (costume designer), Amith Chandrashaker (lighting designer), Mextly Couzin (lighting designer), Mikhail Fiksel (sound design), Justin Ellington (original music) and J. David Brimmer (fight director). Casting is by Alaine Alldaffer, and additional casting is by Rosalinda Morales and Pauline O’con. Marcedés L. Clanton is the production stage manager.