Monday, May 10, 2010

Getting familiar with Matthew Lopez and "The Whipping Man"

Playwright Matthew Lopez started out as an actor, but found that writing used his talents best.

Playwrights like Matthew Lopez have a keen eye and ear for what turns audiences on, and, it turns out that Matthew has a finely tuned sense of irony and humor as well. Here's a video he recently shared. This takeoff on Dreamgirls by Israel Cortez (who could be his stunt double) is a hoot, a real knee slapper. Creative souls need lots of clever nourishment to keep the good stuff coming, and the video proves that good performances are a lot more than just lip synching.

While the Matthew Lopez drama The Whipping Man is serious rather than funny, it is a fascinating look into a subject you have probably never thought about.

Lopez likes to write about underdogs ... people who don't make it into the history books but are somehow caught up in the wheels of historic events. One of his plays is about a young man dealing with the after-effects of a gay-bashing. Another is about a New York family of Puerto Rican performers who are evicted from their home in 1959 to make way for Lincoln Center. The Whipping Man tackles an even more arcane subject.

Berkshire Cast for The Whipping Man: CLARKE PETERS, LE ROY McCLAIN and NICK WESTRATE at Barrington Stage Company

It's about a post-Civil War Jewish Confederate soldier and his former slaves, who share his faith. He returns home to find the place in ruins, but with his now freed slaves still there. Filled with twists and turns, Lopez's play examines Caleb's moral ambiguity, Simon's guileless loyalty to his former owner, John's ideas as a newly radical freeman, and the approaching Exodus in the post-Emancipation South. The production will feature Clarke Peters (HBO’s Treme and The Wire), LeRoy McClain and Nick Westrate. Christopher Innvar directs the Barrington Stage production at Stage 2 ( 36 Linden Street , Pittsfield ).

To read more about Matthew Lopez and the reasons he wrote this play, visit my primary site, Berkshire On Stage

In San Diego: Matthew Lopez (front) with actors Charlie Robinson, Avery Glymph and Mark J. Sullivan. The West Coast Premiere of The Whipping Man runs at The Old Globe May 8 - June 13, 2010. Photo courtesy of The Old Globe.

The Whipping Man has just begun rehearsals at Barrington Stage Company. There will be several low cost previews beginning on May 26 with the official opening May 29. (NOTE: Now opened to universally positive reviews, it has been selling out and the run has been extended to June 17.) It has had an almost simultaneous opening at the Old Globe Theatre is San Diego. Lopez was just named playwright in residence for that company.

For more information and tickets, visit Barrington Stage Companyand while you are at it, be sure to check out Berkshire On Stage for the latest performing arts news and reviews.

No comments: