Mosaic Theater Company Presents MILK LIKE SUGAR, Today
Hot on the heels of the record-breaking, critically hailed Satchmo at the Waldorf, Mosaic Theater Company of DC's Season Two continues with Kirsten Greenidge's riotous, Obie Award-winning MILK LIKE SUGAR (November 2 - 27, 2016), under the direction of Mosaic Theater's Jennifer L. Nelson (The Gospel of Lovingkindness). The play, Mosaic's second DC premiere this season, is a rousing story about young women coming of age in a time when issues of acceptance, mentorship, and materialism challenge the dreams and ambitious of so many teens. It is the first of three plays in Mosaic's 2016-17 season to highlight issues affecting young urban teens and millennials, to be followed by the DC premiere of Philip Dawkins' intergenerational LGBTQ comedy Charm, and the world premiere of Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm's Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies.
Milk Like Sugar offers an arresting and utterly contemporary look at the pressures facing young women in American high schools. The play follows 16 year-old Annie (Kashayna Johnson), a driven but soft-spoken student whose dreams of college are challenged when one of her friends announces that she's pregnant. Suddenly the prospect of matching diaper bags, friendship, and adult independence begins to look like an escape from an adolescence largely deprived
of agency and mentorship.
"We are eager for what's about to be unleashed; an energy that should feel wholly new for us," says Founding Artistic Director Ari Roth. "I can't wait for our audiences to experience this play just as I inhaled it on the first read-breathlessly, with a great deal of lightness and exhilaration, lifting text off the page, even with challenging subject matter anchoring the play in the very real world. The marvelous young women in Milk Like Sugar are propelled by hormones and dreams and their own hard-scrabble pragmatism-tempered by self-deception, vulnerability, and a lack of confidence masked by supreme confidence. As we embrace this play, we accept it for all its power to provoke, as it simultaneously revs up the heart and trips the sensitivity barometer. Thank God for our playwright's propensity for provocation, and her deft ability to prick up the ear."
The cast is anchored by a quartet of young women actors-Johnson's Annie, as well as Ghislaine Dwarka (Margie), Renee Elizabeth Wilson (Talisha), and Tyasia Velines (Keera). Mosaic Theater audiences will recognize Helen Hayes Award winner Deidra LaWan Starnes(playing Annie's mother Myrna), from her acclaimed performance in The Gospel of Lovingkindness (also directed by Nelson), as well as the play's male actors, Jeremy Keith Hunter (Antwoine) and Helen Hayes Award winner Vaughn Ryan Midder (Malik), from their richly memorable roles in When January Feels Like Summer.
"What first drew me to Milk Like Sugar was the playwright, Kirsten Greenidge," shares director Jennifer L. Nelson. "In this play, she gives us a topical story of four teenaged girls who, in seeking meaning and purpose to their lives, make a startling pact. We don't often have the occasion to see into the inner lives of teenagers. But Greenidge gives us a creative, empathetic opportunity to see beyond stereotypes with empathy and hope."
Inspired by the 2008 teen pregnancy controversy at Gloucester High School in Massachusetts, Milk Like Sugar was commissioned by La Jolla Playhouse and Theater Masters, in association with Playwrights Horizons and Women's Project Productions. It premiered at La Jolla in 2011, before transferring Off-Broadway to Peter Jay Sharp Theater later that year. In addition to the 2012 Obie Award for playwriting, Milk Like Sugar received the 2011 Edgerton Foundation New American Play Award, and the 2011 San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel award for Outstanding New Play.
This production is a DC premiere, not only for Milk Like Sugar but also for Kirsten Greenidge-who, despite an earlier residency at Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company and an extensive production history around the country, has yet to receive a full staging of her work in Washington, DC.
Mosaic Theater Company Announces Accessibility and Inclusion Initiative,
made possible in part by the Weissberg Foundation's 2016-2019 Fund for Diversity in Theater
Mosaic Theater Company is deeply committed to Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA). During its Inaugural Season, Mosaic Theater and neighboring Gallaudet University established an early partnership to create an annual apprentice position for a Gallaudet student or alumnus/a, and to further the reading, development, and production of plays by Deaf playwrights. This artistic and operational partnership was conceived in close collaboration with Gallaudet apprentice Kala Granger.
This season Mosaic's expanded Accessibility Initiative ensures that all eight productions in Mosaic Theater's second season will be accessible to the Deaf community. Three shows will have select Open Captioned performances; three shows will have select ASL-interpreted performances and post-show conversations; and two productions, Milk Like Sugar and Hooded: Or Being Black for Dummies will be fully accessible at EVERY PERFORMANCE via surtitles incorporated into the direction and design.
The Accessibility Initiative is made possible in part by a three year, $195,000 grant from the Weissberg Foundation, as part of their 2016-2019 Fund for Diversity in Theater-a $1,000,000 commitment to engage and expand new voices and audiences in DC-area theaters.
Milk Like Sugar Public Programming Announced:
"Compelling Dilemmas: Empowerment and Impediments"
featuring Dr. Joyce Ladner, civil rights leader and former Interim President of Howard University
Milk Like Sugar will further Mosaic Theater's commitment to free and expansive community programming with a discussion series titled "Compelling Dilemmas: Empowerment and Impediments" dedicated to investigating the ways that young people are supported and failed by current educational structures; to exploring innovative mentorship initiatives; and to deconstructing entrenched stereotypes around teenage pregnancy. The series will feature a keynote session with Dr. Joyce Ladner (former Interim President of Howard University), as well as Jonathan M. Burns (Board Member, 100 Black Men of Greater Washington, DC), Nadia Gold-Moritz (Executive Director, Young Women's Project), Sandy Hassan (quilter), Abigail Hill (social worker for Healthy Generations Program), Kelley E. Navies (oral historian, librarian, writer, and cultural heritage specialist), Serra Sippel (President, Center for Health and Gender Equality), and many others.