The moment I stepped into Diana Sands' shoes to play her in a 2012 Off-Off B'way bio-drama, I knew I had met my 'portal to possibility!' The audition alone thrilled me. We were asked to prepare either "Beneatha" from RAISIN IN THE SUN or "Juanita" from Baldwin's BLUES FOR MISTER CHARLIE and G.B. Shaw's "St. Joan" or "Major Barbara."
What? All this in the same room, in the same body, at the same time? You might be hard pressed to find Shaw & Hansberry or Shaw & Baldwin nestled up against each other on a bookstore or library shelf or theatre season?--- oh how we humans like to separate so many things---but here they were! I hungrily prepared "Beneatha" and "St. Joan." I mean this was a feast! And the rest is history!! (read Backstage review here)
I continue to hold Diana Sands' legacy close as model, inspiration, and beacon of courage. Diana Sands embraced 'color-blind' roles at the same time she premiered some of the most iconic roles in African American drama. She was as passionate about Baldwin as she was about Shakespeare, and she dynamically confronted narratives of race, class & power in ground-breaking films like The Landlord.
Like me, Diana Sands' family has roots in the Caribbean. While I grew up in multi-cultural Toronto, knowing one day I would share my heart with New York, Diana was born and raised in Manhattan, the world's cultural cross-roads. One of her early roles was with NY's Yiddish Theater. In fact, it's where she first worked with Ruby Dee, landing Diana an audition for A RAISIN IN THE SUN and the role of "Beneatha" in the Broadway premiere and original film!
When I played Diana Sands in May 2012, little did I know that in 2013/14 (just back from Stratford Festival, Canada), I'd be cast in two Target Margin Yiddish Labs: THREE GIFTS FOR LENNY BRUCE; and CELIA based on the avant-garde poet Celia Dropkin, in which I performed one of Dropkin's poems entirely in Yiddish!
I am deeply grateful for my fellow actors, writers, directors, artistic directors and producers, and most especially audiences who deeply believe our rich human diversity can and should occupy the same frame.
Just a few months ago, when I was invited to Lead/Direct a Gertrude Stein Lab for Target Margin Theater, I got to "walk my talk." Visit Current/Upcoming Page for FIVE HISTORIC CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT cast, creative team & photos.