Working Theater, in its 29th season off-Broadway, will continue its current exploration of the face of poverty in America, with James McManus’ Princess Grace Award-winning play, CHERRY SMOKE. The play is a brutal love story that details the irrational hope of four destitute young people, all stretching to grasp the American dream. Directed by Tamilla Woodard, the production will run April 22nd through May 18th at Urban Stages, 259 West 30th Street in Manhattan. The official opening is on Thursday, May 1st.
On the outskirts of Pittsburgh, Fish is a ticking time bomb and a back alley fighter who has been in and out of jail his entire life, Cherry is a runaway who has been on her own since age 10 and hopes for a more simple life where she and Fish can be together, Will Fish be able to harness his rage and make a life for him and Cherry?
James McManus captures the devastated remnants of the steel towns of his youth, channeling the frustrations of a working class without work. A vivid combustion of the magical and the mundane, Cherry Smoke takes you to a world rarely seen on the New York stage.
Todd London, Artistic Director of New Dramatists explains that McManus “writes about characters with hard lives and hard luck, and he writes about them with profound love. His dialogue is painful and gorgeous. It’s a poetry of the actual, reminiscent of two American masters–Paddy Chayevsky and, McManus’s great example, August Wilson. But like everything else in CHERRY SMOKE, the voice is entirely his own. James McManus is an important American playwright, who deserves to be more widely known. It’s fitting and encouraging that the Working Theater is producing this beautiful play in New York City.”
Playwright James McManus is the author of six plays: Love on San Pedro, Dorothy 6, Bulldog Whiskey, Underground, Cherry Smoke and Blood Potato. His plays have been developed and performed at Cornerstone Theater Company, Labyrinth Theater Company, Apothecary Theatre Company, The Clockwork Theatre, Glass Umbrella Creative (Sydney), Revolt Theatre (Melbourne), Gurnet Theatre Project, The Kennedy Center, The BE Company, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company, The Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Barebones Productions, Irish Repertory Theatre, Son of Semele, The Side Project Theatre Company, The Lark Play Development Center, The Inkwell, Diverse City Theater Company, and the August Wilson Center for African American Culture. James was the recipient of the 2006 Princess Grace Award in Playwriting for Cherry Smoke, which is published by Samuel French. He received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from Carnegie Mellon University and is a resident playwright at New Dramatists.
Tamilla Woodard is a Director residing in New York City. She is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama, an alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab and founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site impacting theatrical events in collaboration with theatre artists working around the globe. Most recent work: Long Distanace Affair: BA Edition, (Bienal Arte Joven Buenos Aires and PopUP Theatrics, Buenos Aires) INSIDE (PopUP Theatrics, Madrid, Spain;) La Ruta, by Ed Cardona Jr ( Working Theater, NYC) With PopUP Theatrics: Long Distance Affair, an international collaboration for live Skype performance; Hotel Project, Co-Creator, world premiere in QuerÃ©taro Mexico in July 2011, American premiere at Washington Jefferson Hotel and the Summit Grand Hotel in January 2012; Other recent work includes, 3 Editions of Long Distance Affair, Edinburgh, Scotland, QuerÃ©taro, Mexico, New York, USA; DramaTour in QuerÃ©taro Mexico (Sabandijas del Palacio) Valiant by Lanna Joffrey at InterAct Theatre (Philadelphia, PA); Nightlands by Sylvan Oswald (New Georges,NYC) and the development and direction of Saviana Stanescu‘s Polanski Polanski (Teatrul Odeon, Bucharest; The Sibiu International Theatre Festival, Sibiu, TIFF International Festival, Cluj; PS122/SoloNOVA festival, HERE, NYC and The Chain, LIC, New York). She has directed for the Working Theater, HERE, The Actors Theatre of Louisville, PS122, DR 2, The Culture Project, Urban Stages, Dance Theatre Workshop, The Kitchen Theatre and for festivals around the US and internationally. She a recipient of The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists, The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women, New York Theatre Workshop Director Fellowship, New Georges Audrey Residency and a TCG On The Road Grant.
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