The Alliance Theatre Presents By The Way, Meet Vera Stark

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Atlanta's Alliance TheatreThe Alliance Theatre is pleased to announce its production of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, the Off-Broadway hit by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage.  Described by The New York Times as “a fitful comedy,” By The Way, Meet Vera Stark tells the story of an aspiring actress trying to break the mold of stereotypical African-American film roles in 1930’s Hollywood and the legacy she leaves on the film industry seventy years later.

By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is a seventy-year journey through the life of Vera Stark, a headstrong maid and budding actress in a time when speaking roles for African-American actors were impossible to come by, and her tangled relationship with her boss, a Hollywood star desperately trying to hold on to her career. When Vera lands a groundbreaking role in a new Southern epic, she turns Hollywood on its head and paves the way for future generations of black actresses.  Seventy years later, film buffs are left to reflect on the life and legacy of this controversial star, whose eventual fame and fortune may have come at the price of perpetuating dangerous stereotypes.  By The Way, Meet Vera Stark celebrates the individuals who fuelled the remarkable American cultural changes of the twentieth century and examines themes of gender and race identity.

VERA STARK is led by Director Leah C. Gardiner.  Gardiner’s directing credits include Othello, Wit, Intimate Apparel, and Born Bad, for which she won a 2011 Obie Award.

“Playwright Lynn Nottage uses many forms of humor to draw you in,” said Gardiner.  “She chooses culturally specific styles found within the African-American community to examine race at its core with pain, joy, happiness and fear.  It is at these moments when she asks us to think about how race defines the heartbeat of our country.  VERA STARK makes us think about the choices we have made in life and asks us to journey into the complexities of our American psyche at a time when we seem to question ‘who are we and how do we fit into this nation of difference which prides itself so much on sameness?’”

Leading the cast in the role of Vera Stark is stage and screen actress, Toni Trucks.  Trucks’s theatre credits include Cactus Flower, Kiss Me, Kate, and West Side Story.  Her film & television credits include the final installment of the Twilight movies, Breaking Dawn, the film Ruby Sparks, and the television series “Hostages” and “Barbershop.”  Playing the role of Vera’s boss, Gloria Mitchell, a Hollywood star fighting to stay on top, is Atlanta actress Courtney Patterson.  Patterson is an associate artist with Georgia Shakespeare and was last seen on the Alliance Stage in August: Osage County.  She also appeared at the Alliance in Managing Maxine and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?.

Also in the cast of By The Way, Meet Vera Stark, each playing a different character 70 years apart: Che Ayende (Off-Broadway Breakfast with Mugabe) as Leroy Barksdale/Herb Forrester; Andrew Benator (Alliance productions Good People, August: Osage County) as Mr. Slasvick/Brad Donovan; Nikiya Mathis (Off-Broadway The Brother/Sister Plays) as Lottie/Carmen Levy-Green; Tiffany Rachelle Stewart (Regional The Conference of the Birds) as Anna Mae/Afua Assata Ejobo; and Daniel Triandiflou (Horizon Theatre The Book Club Play) as Maximillian Von Oster/Peter Ryhs-Davies.

Performances for By The Way, Meet Vera Starkare Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 p.m., Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays at 2:30 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., October 16 – November 10, 2013.  Opening Night is October 23, 2013. There will be no 2:30 p.m. performance on October 19.

Tickets start at $30 and are available at The Woodruff Arts Center Box Office in person or by calling 404-733-5000.  Tickets are also available online at www.alliancetheatre.org/verastarkDiscounted rates for groups of 10 or more are available by calling 404.733.4690.  Discounted rates are also available for members of the military, seniors and students.  The Alliance Theatre is located at the Woodruff Arts Center, 1280 Peachtree Street, NE, Atlanta, GA 30309, at the corner of Peachtree and 15th Street.

By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is part of the Coca-Cola Series on the Alliance Stage.  By The Way, Meet Vera Stark is also supported by The Home Depot, Delta, and PNC Bank.