"The Drop Off" with playwright James Anthony Tyler
7:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 28, 2023
Staged reading followed by Q&A with playwright, director, and cast.
Arena Theatre, UAlbany Performing Arts Center
1400 Washington Avenue, Albany NY 12222
The heartfelt and moving story of a mother/daughter relationship overcoming the challenges of Alzheimer's, aging and the past. At Deer Lakes Assisted Living Facility in Las Vegas, Nevada, Allain drops off her mother Delphina who has the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. When Delphina refuses to stay at the facility, memories of loss, dreams broken and an impending eviction come to the surface in a way that may break this mother and daughter bond forever.
The director of the staged reading will be Joe Cacaci. The reading of this work will feature UAlbany students, working alongside professional actors, and include a conversation with the artists following the staged reading.
A rising star in the American theatre, Tyler received the 3rd Annual Horton Foote Playwriting Award in 2018 and the Theatre Masters Visionary Playwrights Award in 2016. He previously appeared in the Authors Theatre program in 2019 with his play-in-progress, “Talkin' To This Chick Sippin' Magic Potion.” He is one of the inaugural playwrights to receive a commission from Audible’s emerging playwrights fund. His other plays include “Some Old Black Man,” “All We Need Is Us,” “hop tha A,” “Artney Jackson,” and “Dolphins and Sharks.” He was a staff writer for the OWN Network show “Cherish the Day” created by Ava DuVernay. Currently, he is writing for a new Apple TV+ drama series starring an Academy Award-winning actress.
Presented by the UAlbany Theatre Program and the Jarka and Grayce Burian Endowment in collaboration with the NYS Writers Institute.
The reading will feature New York-based actresses:
Stephanie Berry (playing Delphina) is the 2023 recipient for an OBIE Award for Performance for "On Sugarland" at New York Theatre Workshop (Off-Broadway). She was recently seen in the world premiere of "The Bandaged Place" at the Roundabout Theatre. Other recent world premieres include: "The Garden" at La Jolla Playhouse, "Frankenstein" at Classic Stage Company, "Suga in Our Wounds" at Manhattan Theatre Club, and "Iced Out Shackled and Chained."
A veteran actress of stage, television, and films, she has recurred in the TV series "Fantasy Island." Other film credits include "Before You Know It," "O.G.", "Delivery Man", "Invasion", "No Reservations" and "Finding Forrester". Other television credits include "Luke Cage", "The Last OG", "Bull", "Blue Bloods", "Blacklist", and all the Law & Order shows. She is the recipient of an OBIE for her solo show, "The Shaneequa Chronicles"; the 2022 New Professional Theatre’s Award for "Activism"; and the 2021 League of Professional Theatre Women’s Lee Reynold’s Award. She is a founder member of Blackberry Productions a Harlem-based documentary theater company that develops works that address critical issues facing our communities.
Portia (playing Allain) Theatre credits include: Jackie Zinner in "Artney Jackson" by James Anthony Tyler (Williamstown Theatre Festival); "A Midsummer Night’s Dream in Harlem" (Pittsburgh Public Theater); "To Kill A Mockingbird" (Broadway); "Stew" (Walkerspace, World Premiere, Pulitzer Finalist); "Rinse, Repeat" (Pershing Square Linney Theatre); "Celebrating the Black Radical Imagination/don’t get got" (Williamstown Theatre Festival); "Sweat" (Mark Taper Forum); "Fences" (Longwharf & McCarter Theatre); "The Rose Tattoo" (Broadway/Williamstown Theatre Festival); "The Way West" (LAByrinth Theatre Company); "Queen for a Day" (Theatre at St. Clements); "How We Got On" (Cleveland Playhouse); "Fences" (McCarter Theater; Long Wharf Theater); "Our Town" (Fords Theatre); "Ruined" (MTC and The Geffen Playhouse); London production of "The Member of The Wedding"; "Zooman and the Sign" (Signature Theater Company); "McReele" (Roundabout Theater Company); "The Treatment" (The Culture Project); "No Child" (TheaterWorks); "Frankie & Johnny" (Hartford Stage); "Ride Down Mt. Morgan" (Broadway); "Our Lady of 121st St." and "In Arabia We’d All Be Kings" (LAByrinth Theater Company); "Merchant of Venice" (The Goodman Theater and tour).
C. Niambi Steele (playing Crystal) comes from a rich legacy of Black theater starting in the 1970s, performing throughout the Midwest. Niambi was steered into her first New York theatrical appearance by Ed Bullins (in residence at Joseph Papp’s Public Theater) with "The Hotel Play" by Wallace Shawn, at La MaMa ETC. She has continued to steadily in New York theater, from the first run of "Mama I Want To Sing with Desiree Coleman" (1983), to the Nuyorican Poets Café’s production of "Billy, Lena, And The Duke" (2011).
She was nominated for 2014 Best Actress Musical for her portrayal of Brenda in "That ‘L’ Word" at the John Chatterton Play Festival, and more recently was honored with a 2020 Audelco Award for the play "Sassy Mamas".
Niambi appeared in two plays by poet Mari Evans, and has worked with Woodie King, Jr., at the New Federal Theater, appearing in his Audelco Award-winning production "Satchel: A Requiem for Racism" (2008).
She has worked in numerous Harlem-based community outreach productions, and in arts-based community involvement throughout the city. As a playwright, she has had her works read at the National Black Theatre Festival (2007) and the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (2012 and 2021).