Seeing a brand, spanking new show in its world premiere is like getting first choice of an untouched box of chocolates...it makes you feel almost reverent-knowing the flavor you will get remains a mystery, but oh, the possibilities!!
Last night, I was so very fortunate to attend Opening Night of the world premiere of Katori Hall's The Blood Quilt at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. Hall is an award-winning playwright who has made it her business to bring the voices of African-American women to the stage.
I particularly love when a title is so apt, you could spend a good deal of discussion just on the rich meaning therein...this is one of those titles. The Blood Quilt is a literal, and figurative, sewing together of family and history and lore. Four sisters and a daughter/niece from the next generation come together on an island off the coast of Georgia, where generations of their family have resided. They are there to finish a final quilt for their recently-passed mother, for whom quilting was an art and the air she breathed. But Rendell Jernigan has left a deep, lasting and yes, painful, impact on each of her four daughters, and that pain and strength is waiting just around every corner in the house where they've gathered.
The Blood Quilt cast is exquisite, their chemistry palpable and electric. The set, lighting and sound design are almost a character unto themselves; transporting the audience far away from the DC waterfront to another, otherworldly waterfront at which souls are in play. And I was never wanting for a piece of the story to latch onto and ponder. The network of feelings and relationships seems almost infinite; wanting to break the confines of a two-act play and making me want to continue knowing these women beyond that stage.
I interviewed two of the actors in the cast, Nikiya Mathis and Afi Bijou, while the show was just starting preview week. You can read the interview on BroadwayWorld.com, and then get yourself down to Arena Stage to be part of some pretty magical theater.