Playwright Tori Simpson delves into African American history—and adds autobiographical elements– in the new Off Broadway play This Land Was Made. The play, which opened May 18, takes audiences to 1967 Oakland, California when revolutionary Huey P. Newton’s (Julian Elijah Martinez) Black Panther movement was just beginning to take the city,and the entire country, by storm.
A recent press release describes the piece, which marks the final production of Vineyard Theater’s 2023 season:
“In This Land Was Made, Oakland in 1967 is a powder keg of social activism ready to boil over into radical action. For the patrons of Miss Trish’s bar, it’s all just talking points — until the explosive and seductive force of the revolution walks through the door. History and imagination collide with vibrant humor and echo into our present moment in this stirring new play.
The complete cast will feature Antoinette Crowe-Legacy (Slave Play, If Pretty Hurts Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka, “Godfather of Harlem” on EPIX) as Sassy, Leland Fowler (Plays for the Plague Year, If Pretty Hurts, Ugly Must Be a Muhfucka) as Drew, Matthew Griffin (The Collaboration, Tina – The Tina Turner Musical) as Troy, Sean Patrick Higgins (PunchDrunk’s Sleep No More, Off-Broadway’s A Clockwork Orange) as Officer Heanes, Yasha Jackson (“The Flight Attendant” on HBO Max, “Black Mirror” on Netflix) as Gail, Ezra Knight (Broadway’s Mean Girls, Broadway’s Pretty Woman) as Mr. Far, Curt Morlaye (“We Own This City” on HBO, “Dickinson” on Apple TV+) as Gene, Oliver Palmer (American Buffalo at Dorset Theater Festival, Two Gentlemen of Verona with Shakespeare in the Square) as Officer Frey and Libya V. Pugh (Dot at Vineyard Theatre) as Miss Trish.
The production features scenic design by Wilson Chin (Cost of Living, Pass Over, Next Fall), costume design by Dominique Fawn Hill (Fat Ham), lighting design by Adam Honoré (Ain’t No Mo’, Chicken and Biscuits), wig and hair design by Nikiya Mathis (Death of a Salesman, Skeleton Crew), sound design by Fan Zhang (The Far Country, At the Wedding) and movement direction by Adesola Osakalumi (Good Grief, Skeleton Crew). Casting is by Henry Russell Bergstein, CSA and The Telsey Office/Destiny Lilly, CSA. Anne McPherson will serve as Production Stage Manager.”
This Land Was Made runs Off Broadway through June 25 at the Vineyard Theater. 108 E 15th St, NYC. For tickets and information, click here.