Professional theater of the Great Western Catskills!

Trouble in Mind

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Trouble in Mind

by Alice Childress
Directed by Patricia Buckley
An FSC Production

This production is made possible by generous gifts from the New York State Council on the Arts, The Community Foundation of South Central New York, and The Tianaderrah Foundation.
Produced on Broadway by Roundabout Theatre Company (Todd Haimes, Artistic Director/CEO; Julia C. Levy, Executive Director; Sydney Beers, Executive Producer)


Alice Childress’s illuminating, moving, and surprisingly funny play set during rehearsals for a Broadway-bound play where harsh truths that spill out into the rehearsal room may cost the actors the work they so desperately need.

“Deserves to be a classic.”
–NY Times

“Funny, fresh, profound, and surprisingly timely for a play written two years before the first Edsel rolled off the showroom floor.”
–Drama Circle

“Speaks to today’s concerns…hard to believe it was written in 1955.”
–Stage Door

ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT

Alice Childress (October 12, 1916 – August 14, 1994) was an American novelist, playwright, and actress, acknowledged as the only African-American woman to have written, produced, and published plays for four decades. Childress described her work as trying to portray the have-nots in a have society, saying: “My writing attempts to interpret the ‘ordinary’ because they are not ordinary. Each human is uniquely different. Like snowflakes, the human pattern is never cast twice. We are uncommonly and marvellously intricate in thought and action, our problems are most complex and, too often, silently borne.” Childress became involved in social causes, and formed an off-Broadway union for actors.

Childress (née Herndon) was born in Charleston, South Carolina, but at the age of nine, after her parents separated, she moved to Harlem, New York City, where she lived with her grandmother, Eliza Campbell White, on 118th Street, between Lenox Avenue and Fifth Avenue. Though her grandmother, the daughter of a slave, had no formal education, she encouraged Alice to pursue her talents in reading and writing. Alice attended public school in New York for her middle-school education and went on to Wadleigh High School, but had to drop out once her grandmother died. She became involved in theater immediately after her high school and she did not attend college.

In 1949, she began her writing career with the one-act play Florence, which she directed and starred in, and which reflected many of the themes that are characteristic of her later writing, including the empowerment of black women, interracial politics, and working-class life.

Childress’s first full-length, dramatic play, Trouble in Mind was produced at Stella Holt’s Greenwich Mews Theatre in 1955 and ran for 91 performances. Biographies and her 1994 obituary claim that Trouble in Mind won an Obie award for the best off-Broadway play of the 1955–56 season, which would have made Childress the first African American woman to be awarded the honor. However, Trouble in Mind is not in the American Theatre Wing’s records as having won an Obie for the 1955–56 season. Trouble in Mind is about racism in the theater world. In a play-within-a-play, Childress depicts the frustrations of black actors and actresses in mainstream white theater. The show’s success led to plans for a Broadway transfer, but these plans were nixed when Childress refused to change the play’s ending. Had it opened, it would have been the first play by an African American woman to open on Broadway (a title taken by A Raisin in the Sun four years later). An acclaimed revival of Trouble in Mind was presented on Broadway from October 29, 2021, to January 9, 2022, at Roundabout Theatre Company’s American Airlines Theatre. It starred LaChanze, Chuck Cooper, Michael Zegen, Danielle Campbell, Jessica Frances Dukes, Brandon Micheal Hall, Don Stephenson, Alex Mickiewicz, and Simon Jones and was directed by Charles Randolph-Wright. The production was nominated for four Tony Awards including Best Revival of a Play, Best Actress in a Play (LaChanze), Best Featured Actor in a Play (Chuck Cooper), and Best Costume Design in a Play (Emilio Sosa).

Alice Childress’s paper archive is held at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem, New York.

ADARA ALSTON (Associate Director/Millie Davis) is delighted to be working with Franklin Stage Company again after performing as Kate in Good People, as Mrs.Muller in Doubt: A Parable and as the Chorus for the Henry V prologue in the 2020 Soliloquies at Chapel Hall series. Adara assistant directed Bricktop: Legend of the Jazz Age at FSC in 2022, and directed the initial staged reading performances of Toliver and Wakeman. Some recent acting credits: Men On Boats (Chenango River Theatre), Fences (Redhouse Theatre), The Skin of Our Teeth, An Odyssey, and The Inferior Sex (Hangar Theatre), Pericles: Prince of Tyre and A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Ithaca Shakespeare), and As You Like It, And What Happens If I Don’t, and The Fan (Cherry Arts). Recent directing credits: The Mountaintop (Chenango River Theatre) and Doubt, A Parable (Elmira Little Theatre). Adara is also the Emmy-award winning host of the arts and culture program Expressions on WSKG-TV (PBS).

PATRICIA BUCKLEY (Director) is the Artistic Director of FSC. Her New York credits include New York Theatre Workshop, Cherry Lane, 59e59, Potomac Theatre Project, New Ohio Theater, Irish Arts Center, MileSquare Theatre, Clubbed Thumb, and the Actors Shakespeare Company. Regionally, she has performed with Theatre de la Jeune Lune and at Papermill Playhouse, LaJolla Playhouse, Berkshire Theatre Festival, Cleveland Playhouse, Walnut Street Theatre, Portland Stage Company (ME), Coconut Grove Playhouse, Aspen Comedy Festival and Portland Center Stage (OR). International credits include Gams On The Lam touring throughout the US, Canada, Mexico and Europe. Film and television appearances include Red Oaks (Amazon), Law & Order (NBC), Death of A President (Film 4/Channel 4), Kabluey (Sony), The Delicious (Fox Searchlight), Anna Is Being Stalked (Sundance Channel) and How2MakeMovies@Home (Independent).

MACONNIA CHESSER (Wiletta Mayer) Franklin Stage debut! NEW YORK THEATER: Ensemble Studio Theatre, York Shakespeare Company.  REGIONAL THEATER: Shakespeare & Company (company member; Berkshire Theatre Award for Best Solo Performance for An Iliad), Hanover Theatre Repertory, Actors’ Shakespeare Project, Lyric Stage Company, WAM Theatre, Ancram Opera House, Berkshire Playwrights Lab, Chester Theatre, Kennedy Center, Theater Alliance (Insurrection: Holding History, Helen Hayes nomination), Tennessee Shakespeare, African Continuum Theatre, Totem Pole Playhouse, & Folger Theatre. FILM & TV: The Shape of Destiny (Official selection, 2018 Women in Comedy Festival), Nothing But the Truth, Ghosts of Hamilton Street, Diseasels, HBO’s The Wire. EDUCATION: Shakespeare & Company, National Conservatory of Dramatic Arts, Alcorn State University. For my mom Dorothy D. Scott Chesser, and my friend Dennis Krausnick. Instagram: @kurlymac. 

DEENA CONLEY (Dialect Coach) is the Chair of Performing Arts at SUNY Cortland, where she teaches courses in acting and directing. She has lived and worked all over the country–Directing highlights include:  The Last Five Years, Cabaret, Lysistrata, Urinetown, Fool for Love, Chicago, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Twenty-Fifth Annual Spelling Bee, A Little Night Music, next to normal, Sweet Charity, Rabbit Hole, and The Widow’s Blind Date. Ph.D. in Directing from Wayne State University, MI.

MARK CRYER (Sheldon Forrester) is a graduate of the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (RSAMD) in Glasgow, Scotland where he holds an MFA in Acting. A member of Actors Equity Association (AEA) and SAG-AFTRA, his career has spanned three decades. His film, television and regional theatre credits include roles in Gotham (FOX), The Getdown (Netflix), The Diary of a Foreign Exchange Student (Brazil) and The Confession (Independent). His regional theatre credits include such roles as Claudius in Hamlet, Bono in Fences and Toledo in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He is currently the Chair of the Theatre Department at Hamilton College, where he teaches acting, directs, and mentors the next generation of theatre artists.

BRIANNA JOY FORD (Judy Sears) is thrilled to be returning to Franklin Stage after performing in Toliver and Wakeman last season! Some favorite theatre credits include: Isabel in My Children! My Africa! (HartBeat Ensemble),  Emily in Our Town (Artistry Theater), Alma in Summer and Smoke (The Impostors Theatre), Hero in Much Ado About Nothing (Theatre at Monmouth) and Molly in Peter and the Starcatcher (EDGE Theatre). Originally from Seattle, Brianna got her BFA in Acting from Ithaca College, lived/worked in Chicago after graduation and is now based in NYC. Much gratitude to FSC for bringing this story to life, to the audiences for all of their support, and to her loving family and husband, Jelani, for always being there. Briannajoyford.com

DON GILKINSON (Sound Design)​ has many years of experience performing as a singer/guitarist, band leader and radio announcer.  He has provided voice-over and effects tracks for individual actors and authors.  Don provides sound services for concerts and various events with the Walton Theatre as well as sound design work for the Delaware River Stage Company.  He is looking forward to his first season working with the Franklin Stage Company.

SCOTT HOLDREDGE (Set/Lighting//Technical Director) is excited to be back with FSC this summer. He is a full time faculty member at SUNY Cortland in NY. He recently designed Lights for Opera Ithaca at the Hangar Theatre for A Turn of the Screw and designed Set/Lights/projection for the Opera Ithaca festival including Rusalka and Die Schoien Mullerin.  His scenic designs for SUNY Cortland have recently included; Sweet Charity, Love Billy, Cabaret, The Last Five Years (co-production with Cortland Repertory Theatre), Seussical, and a new musical workshop production of The Bone Harp with Create Theatre. He has also worked for Cortland Repertory Theatre, Syracuse Opera, Syracuse University, and a few area high school theatres as a set/lighting designer and technical director. Scott’s work has been seen in New York City, Los Angeles, Alaska, and San Diego across the genres of theatre, corporate events, theme parks, haunted houses and film.

TIM IVERSEN (Music Consultant) is the Jr./Sr. High School Chorus Teacher for the Cooperstown Central School District, where he also oversees the musical theatre program. He has worked on well over one hundred musicals with student, community, and professional theatre groups as a music director, director, vocal coach, accompanist, and pit orchestra musician. Tim plays with the Old Masters Jazz Ensemble and sits in frequently with other jazz, blues, and rock groups in the area.  He is also the organist and choir director for the First Baptist Church of Cooperstown.

KASSANDRA JOY (She/They) (Stage Manager) graduated in 2015 from Manhattanville College with her B.A. in Theatre and works as a stage manager, actress, director, writer, and teaching artist. Some production credits include: Production Stage Manager for Fences, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark, and Inherit The Wind at the RedHouse Arts Center and Give ‘Em Hell, Harry! At Wagon Wheel Center for the Arts. Stage Manager for Fertile Grounds with Civic Ensemble in Ithaca, NY. Kassandra Joy was awarded the 2023 Charlie Blackwell scholarship to attend the Broadway Stage Management Symposium in NYC, and is a proud member of the Black Artist Collective in Syracuse, NY. 

DREW KAHL (Bill O’Wray) is happy to return to Franklin Stage where he has directed and performed in staged readings and appeared previously in Two Gentlemen of Verona and The Winter’s Tale. Regional acting credits include productions with Chenango River Theatre, Everyman Theatre, Roundhouse Theatre, Arena Stage, Rep Stage, The Shakespeare Theatre and The Shakespeare Project. He teaches acting, directing, and voice production at SUNY Oneonta, serving as the current Chair of the Theatre Department. Drew is a Certified Associate Teacher of Fitzmaurice Voicework and a proud member of Actors Equity, SAG/AFTRA, and the Voice and Speech Trainer’s Association (VASTA).

VITO LONGO (Eddie Fenton) is happy to be back performing with Franklin Stage Co. after appearing in last season’s production of “Good People” (Stevie Grimes). A freelance actor based in Johnson City, Vito most recently appeared in “Godspell” at The Redhouse Arts Center. Other regional credits include “I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change” (Chenango River Theater) “An Odyssey” (The Hangar Theatre Co.) and “Voices Of Ukraine” (The Cherry Artspace). He would like to thank his acting coach Jeff Tagliaferro and all his friends from acting class for continuing to challenge and support him, as well as his wife Megan for always being his rock. Follow him on instagram @v_toelongo

CHRIS NICKERSON (Henry) is excited to be performing for the first time with The Franklin Stage company. Chris has a Bachelors Degree in Theatre and has performed with The Cider Mill Playhouse, Cortland Repertory Theater, Chenango River Theater, and the Ithaca Shakespeare Company. Presently he is co-director for S.T.A.R. (Southern Tier Actors Read). Some of his favorite roles include Caliban in The Tempest, the Fool in King Lear and Sir Thomas More in A Man for All Seasons. Chris has also directed many productions; the most recent being an immersive production of Romeo and Juliet at The Phelps Mansion in Binghamton. Chris also participated in Her Majesty Players at The Stratford Shaksepeare Festival, a week long Shakespeare Intensive Workshop.

CHRIS O’CONNOR (Al Manners) directed last summer’s Good People and directed Two Gentlemen of Verona and Billy Bishop Goes to War at FSC. He appeared as Launce in the Soliloquies at Chapel Hall in 2020. As Founding Artistic Director of the New Jersey regional theatre Mile Square Theatre, he directed over 30 plays and has directed at theatres and universities across the country. As an actor he has performed Off-Broadway and regionally in such theatres as Seattle’s A Contemporary Theatre, The Culture Project, Soho Rep, The Ahmanson, Gloucester Stage, Provisional Theatre of Los Angeles, Maltz Jupiter Theatre, The Ohio Theatre, The Bathhouse Theatre, Seattle Children’s Theatre, and at City Theatre in Pittsburgh. TV credits include “Magic City” and “Burn Notice,” and he appears in the indie thriller Depraved. He is an Associate Professor and Chair of Theatre Arts at Molloy University. Chris holds a BFA from Carnegie-Mellon University and an MFA from Rutgers University.

ALYSSA PERILLO (Assistant Stage Manager) studied Film and Media Arts at Temple University. She is currently the Assistant Director of Cue and Curtain Drama Club at Unatego Central School. Alyssa is very excited to return to FSC this summer after an internship in 2023. She would like to thank her mom and her mentor, Sandra Bonczkowski, for their endless support.

JELANI PITCHER (John Nevins) is a NYC-based actor and artist, and is so thrilled to be returning to Franklin Stage Company where he was last seen in Toliver and Wakeman! Originally from Baton Rouge, LA, Jelani also spent a number of years living and acting in Chicago. He has performed on stages around the country, but some favorite recent credits include: Topdog/Underdog (Fleetwood-Jourdain Theatre), My Children! My Africa! (HartBeat Ensemble), King Lear (Theater at Monmouth), and Jabari Dreams of Freedom (Second National Tour). Love and blessings to his brilliant wife, Brianna, to his family and friends, and to everyone here supporting live theatre! Proud alum of Ithaca College. jelanipitcher.com

LINDSEY QUAY VOORHEES (Costume Design) received her MFA in Costume Design from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts. She is a professor in the theatre department at Le Moyne College in Syracuse, NY and serves as the resident costume designer. Recent designs include Toliver and Wakeman, Two Gentlemen of Verona and Possessing Harriet here at Franklin Stage Company, A Chorus Line for Syracuse University Department of Drama,  Syracuse Stage’s children’s tour Miss Electricity, and CNY Arts’ Christmas ballet Dasher’s Magical Gift. Favorite designs for Le Moyne include Madwoman of Chaillot, The Black Rider, She Kills Monsters, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Heathers: The Musical, The Liar, Pericles: Prince of Tyre, and Master and Margarita. You can view her portfolio at Lindseyquay.weebly.com 

EVAN TRUE (Production Manager) spends the colder months as a technical producer and production manager for live events, conferences, festivals and interactive museums. He has worked on the production side with many theater and dance companies including the TEAM, Liz Lerman Dance, and Culture Project and has been a build and strike volunteer at FSC for two seasons. Evan is also an Obie Award winning performer, and has been an ensemble member as well as Tech Director at the Living Theatre and International Wow Company. 

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SHOWTIMES

Thursday–Saturday @7:30 pm
Saturday Matinee @3:00 pm
Sunday @5:00 pm

Performance is approximately 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission.

FREE ADMISSION

Franklin Stage Company is an admission-free theater that depends on the generosity of our audience and donors—any amount is appreciated!