Horizon Theatre Company Closes 2011 Season with Tree by Julie Hébert

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A forbidden love affair. A sibling you never knew. This family tree drips with Spanish moss and mystery in Horizon Theatre Company’s 27th season closer, Tree by award-winning playwright Julie Hébert, running September 16 to October 16. 

Secrets are revealed when two strangers, siblings by blood, uncover their parents’ hidden truths and make the difficult choices to stop living in the footprints of others. The professional Southeastern premiere of Tree runs Wednesdays through Sundays at Horizon Theatre in Little Five Points (1083 Austin Avenues NE, 30307, corner of Euclid and Austin Avenues). Tree will have you on the edge of your seat as you unravel the mystery of this family tree!

Tree is funny, touching, and a perfect fit for Horizon mission of bringing diverse audiences together for smart and provocative stories of our times,” says Tree’s director and Horizon Co-Artistic/Producing Director Lisa Adler. “The play is a mystery, a ghost story and a family drama with plenty of humor that bridges generations and cultures.”

“It also touches on issues that matter to many or our audience members: What we give up for love and to keep our family together – and how it helps or haunts us; The difficulty of change as we grow into people we never expected to be; the twisted pasts that all families share and the ways in which we negotiate our differences; children and grandchildren coping with aging relatives and the honest challenges and unexpected gifts of care-taking; generational attitudes about race relations – pre-Civil rights, Civil Rights, and Post-Civil Rights – and how they affect our actions; secrets – why we bury them and the consequences of doing so. We hope audiences will be engrossed in the story we weave, and also come out ready to share their own stories – experiences that relate to the play with each other, their families, and their friends.”

In a stash of love letters, a mystery is born that brings Didi, a white professor of gender studies, all the way from the bayous of Baton Rouge to the Chicago home of Leo, a divorced African-American chef caring for his ailing mother and free-spirited daughter. When these two strangers discover they are connected by blood, they must bridge the divides of race, gender and culture to weave together a common history from the unreliable threads of an old woman’s memories. In our supposedly post-racial world, this play reminds us that sometimes we have to know where we’ve come from to know who we are.

“I set out to write a play about race and ended up writing a play about family,” says playwright Julie Hebert about Tree, “About the inescapability of family, of being known over time, of recognizing yourself in others, of continuing relationships after betrayal and suffering. In my family (and the one in this play), we have profound differences in our belief systems, our politics, our ways of life… and yet we find a way to sit at the same table. We keep each other honest. Sometimes it’s funny, sometimes painful – and so it is with this play.”

Tree brings together a dynamic onstage family of Atlanta-based professional actors, including some Horizon favorites. Playing the matriarch Mrs. Jessalyn Price whose memories are unearthed is the Suzi Award-winning Donna Biscoe, most recently seen in Theatrical Outfit’s The Green Book and at Horizon in the 2009 production A Cool Drink A Water. Her chief care-giver and son, Leo Price, is Geoffrey Williams last seen at Horizon in Blue and who will appear in Alliance Theatre’s God of Carnage in the coming winter. Megan Hayes from Horizon’s Charm School and The Perfect Prayer and who will return to The Santaland Diaries for her second year this holiday season will play Didi, the professor who comes searching to solve the mystery her father left in letters. Closing out the cast is Joy Brunson as Leo’s college student daughter JJ Price. Joy, a graduate of Spelman College, is making her professional theatre debut in Tree.

Creating a blended world of the lush Louisiana Bayou of a woman’s memory and the reality of a Chicago home are a creative team of Horizon family favorites. Suzi Award winning scenic design duo Moriah and Isabel Curley-Clay, props mistress extraordinaire MC Park, and Suzi Award-winning resident lighting designer Mary Parker all return to Horizon where they all last worked together on the summer’s smash hit, Avenue Q. Costume designer Nyrobi Moss, who won a Suzi in 2010 for Horizon’s Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery and who recently designed Three Sistahs, returns for this contemporary ensemble play. Sound designer Thom Jenkins, another frequent Horizon collaborator, will design the atmospheric soundscape.

The play runs September 16 through October 16, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 8:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 p.m. Saturday performance at 3pm are on September 24 and Oct 8 and others may be added. Tickets start as low as $20* (plus 8% sales tax) for general admission seats on weeknights. Prices are subject to availability, so get your tickets early for the best prices. Tickets and information are available at  http://www.horizontheatre.com/ or 404-584-7450.

Horizon Theatre Company, 1083 Austin Avenue, Atlanta, GA 30307, connects people, inspires hope and promotes positive change through professional, contemporary theatre and the stories of our times. For more information about tickets, group sales, or to receive a season brochure, call 404.584.7450 or visit http://www.horizontheatre.com/.

Horizon Theatre Company is grateful for the sponsorship by the Turner Voices initiative of Turner Broadcasting, who provides generous support to the 2011 season. Additional major funding is provided by the City of Atlanta, Office of Cultural Affairs and Fulton County Commission under the guidance of the Fulton County Arts Council. Horizon Theatre is also supported in part by the Georgia Council for the Arts through appropriations of the Georgia General Assembly. The Council is a Partner Agency of the National Endowment for the Arts.