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Acclaimed Play ‘Nine Night’ Starts Round House Theatre’s 45th Season
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The RedEye Star The RedEye Star
Washington, DC
Wednesday, September 7, 2022

 

Acclaimed Play 'Nine Night' Starts Round House Theatre's 45th Season

By Mark C. Robinson

Round House Theatre in Bethesda begins its 2022-2023 season on Wednesday with the American premiere of Natasha Gordon's debut play "Nine Night"—a triumph in its 2018 Royal National Theatre premiere and subsequent West End run, the first by a British Black female playwright.

The production navigates the line between comedy and drama as it explores the tensions of inhabiting two cultures, the inescapable bonds of family, and the many layers of grief and loss. Family matriarch Gloria has died, and her family gathers for the Jamaican mourning ritual of Nine Night, a nine-day celebration (and endurance test) full of food, revelry, and a nonstop parade of mourners. As the festivities continue in other parts of her home, the immediate family frequently takes refuge in Gloria's kitchen while her unseen spirit remains the cornerstone of the household. 

Named "one of the top 20 plays of the 21st century" by The Guardian, and postponed due to COVID-19 from its original schedule for the 2021-2022 season, the production will now run from Sept. 14 to Oct. 9. 

Director Timothy Douglas describes the unpacking of Nine Night at Round House Theatre as a continuous revealing relief of the soul. "It is a gift and privilege for me to more deeply anchor and guide the visceral newness of what blackness is by way of the bittersweet joys lived by this UK-Jamaican family's traditions, culture, and spiritual release."

"The number of Black female playwrights represented on America's largest stages is still depressingly small and disproportionate to the number of Black women in our country," says Round House Theatre Artistic Director Ryan Rilette. "We were deeply disappointed that the rise of Omicron forced us to stop production of this brilliant piece last season. This is the first play by a British Black woman to reach the West End, and I am thrilled that we can finally bring it back and give this Jamaican-British story the American premiere it deserves."

Sponsored by Nan Beckley, the drama stars Kim James Bey, Kaitlyn Boyer, Doug Brown, Katie deBuys, Joy DeMichelle, Avery Glymph, and Lilian Oben. Understudies for this production include Kelli Blackwell, Christine Goepfert, Gislaine Hoyah, and Baakari Wilder. 

The cast is joined by a distinctive creative team that includes Scenic Designer Tim Mackabee, Costume Designer April Hickman, Lighting Designer Harold Burgess, Sound Designer Matthew M. Nielson, Properties Coordinator Tim Jones, Fight Choreographer Casey Kaleba, Vocal and Three-Dialect Coach Dawn-Ellin Fraser, Casting Director Sarah Cooney, Dramaturg and Round House Theatre Associate Artist for New Plays Naysan Mojgani, and Resident Stage Manager Che Wernsman.

The play is approximately 1 hour and 45 minutes long with no intermission. Proof of COVID vaccination will no longer be required as of Aug. 1, but Round House continues to require patrons to wear facemasks at performances. Round House Theatre is located at 4545 East-West Highway, one block from Wisconsin Avenue and the Bethesda station on Metro's Red Line.

For more information on tickets and health and safety protocols, call 240-644-1100 or visit https://www.roundhousetheatre.org/

 

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