LONG WHARF THEATRE TO PRESENT SMART PEOPLE MARCH 15 THROUGH APRIL 19, 2017

NEW HAVEN – Long Wharf Theatre, under the direction of Artistic Director Gordon Edelstein and Managing Director Joshua Borenstein, presents Smart People by Lydia Diamond, directed by Desdemona Chiang.

Performances will take place from March 15 through April 9, 2017 on Stage II. Tickets start at $29.

The press opening will take place Wednesday March 22 at 7:30 pm.

The cast includes Ka-Ling Cheung (Ginny), Tiffany Nichole Greene (Valerie), Sullivan Jones (Jackson), and Peter O’Connor (Brian). The creative team includes Patrick Lynch (sets), Mary Readinger (costumes), Stephen Strawbridge (lights), Greg McGuire (sound), Calleri Casting (casting), and Kathy Snyder (stage manager.)

Brilliant, hilarious, and incisive, Lydia R. Diamond (adaptor of The Bluest Eye and author of Broadway’s Stick Fly) explores the deep questions of race and identity in this controversial and fiercely funny play. On the eve of Obama’s first election, four intellectuals – a doctor, an actress, a psychologist, and a neurobiologist studying the human brain’s response to racial differences – find themselves entangled in a complex web of social and sexual politics. Everyone wants to be successful, to find love, and to feel as if they’ve made a positive impact on the world. But what influence does race have on that quest? In the great tradition of Clybourne Park and Disgraced, Smart People asks the questions that don’t always get asked in public.

“Writing with wit, verve, a shrewd eye for portraiture and an equally shrewd ear for the tells and giveaways of invidious racial assumptions, Diamond has created a quartet of complex, flawed, intriguing, and, yes, smart people who register as much more than delivery systems for polemical freight,” according to the Boston Globe. “Smart People is an incisive comedy about racial stereotypes and university politics,” Edelstein said.

The play received its world premiere in 2014 at the Huntington Theatre Company in Boston. Diamond was inspired by an article by a prominent neuropsychologist’s studies on race and by a spate of plays written by white men meditating on the same subject. She began her work on the piece in 2007. “I was trying to write a play about race, in real time — at a time when that topic was shifting more than I’d witnessed in my lifetime. Seismic shifts,” she said in an interview with the Huntington.

Director Desdemona Chiang was drawn in by the intelligence of the characters and by the comedic nature of the piece. These are deeply learned citizens, people who are engaged and thoughtful about issues of race, gender, and class, she said. “No amount of academic studying can prepare them for real life interactions. No amount of diversity training, inclusion training, counseling can actually prepare you for the surprise moment when you actually meet someone and encounter what affects you personally,” she said.

She hopes that the play pushes people out of the comfort zones. “What I would love is for folks to keep talking in the car on the way home,” she said.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit longwharf.org or call 203-787-4282.

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CREATIVE TEAM BIOS

DESDEMONA CHIANG
Director
Desdemona Chiang is a stage director based in Seattle and the San Francisco Bay Area. Co-founder of Azeotrope. Directing credits include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Seattle Repertory Theatre, Playmakers Repertory Company, Aurora Theatre Company, Seattle Shakespeare Company, Shotgun Players, Crowded Fire Theatre Company, Impact Theatre, Playwrights Foundation, Golden Thread Productions, Washington Ensemble Theatre, among others. Intersection for the Arts Triangle Lab Artist-Investigator. Adjunct Faculty, Cornish College of the Arts. Awards/Affiliations: Vilcek Prize for Creative Promise in Theatre, SDC Sir John Gielgud Directing Fellowship, Drama League Directing Fellowship, TCG Young Leader of Color, Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab and Directors Lab West. BA: UC Berkeley. MFA Directing: University of Washington. Upcoming projects: As You Like It (California Shakespeare Theatre), King of the Yees (ACT Seattle.

LYDIA R. DIAMOND
Playwright
Award winning plays include: Smart People, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs, The Inside, and Stage Black. Theatres include: Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Goodman, Hartford Stage, Huntington, Jubilee, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, Lorraine Hansberry, McCarter, Mo’Olelo, MPAACT, New Vic, Playmakers Rep, Plowshares, Second Stage, Steppenwolf, and TrueColors. Commissions include: Arena Stage, Steppenwolf (4), McCarter, Huntington, Center Stage, Victory Gardens and The Roundabout. A recipient of many playwriting awards, Lydia was also an ’05/’06 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, an 06/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor, is a Board Member at Chicago Dramatists, and a 2012/2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Lydia is an NU graduate (’91), has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College and is 2013-14 Playwright in Residence at Arena Stage.

KA-LING CHEUNG
Ginny
Ka-Ling is thrilled to make her Long Wharf debut! Broadway Tour: War Horse. National Tour: The King and I with Stephanie Powers. UK: Wild Swans at Young Vic. Regional Theaters: American Conservatory Theatre, American Repertory Theater, Pittsburgh Public, San Jose Rep, Portland Center Stage, Artists Repertory Theater, The Shakespeare Theatre of New Jersey, Weston Playhouse, LA Women’s Shakespeare Company. TV Credits: “Law and Order: SVU,” “Blue Bloods,” “Limitless,” and “Elementary.” MFA, American Conservatory Theatre.

TIFFANY NICHOLE GREENE
Valerie
This will be Tiffany Nichole Greene’s very first Long Wharf show, and she couldn’t me more excited about it! A Houston native, Tiffany earned her MFA in Acting from Brown University/Trinity Rep. This Texan turned New Yorker now splits her time between NYC and Dallas, as part of Dallas Theater Center’s Artistic Department. Favorite roles include:Young Mother + as Cast in BootyCandy (Speakeasy Stage); Angela Davis in Angela’s Justice (Theatre for the New City); ); Mark Antony in Julius Caesar (Bridge Repertory Theater); Africa Jade in Rush at Everlasting (Perseverance Theatre); Moliseng + as Cast in Syringa Tree (Trinity Repertory Theatre) Ponce in Kumrads Won’t (Fringe Festival NYC); Gary Coleman in Avenue Q (Cameo Theatre); Mrs. Wire in Vieux Carré (Brown/Trinity); Leatta in HAIR (Hangar Theatre); and Beulah in Orpheus Descending (Intiman Theatre/The Williams Project).

SULLIVAN JONES
Jackson
Sullivan Jones was born and raised in the Bay Area, and is an alumnus of Brown University and UCLA’s School of Theater. Regionally, Sullivan has appeared with The Denver Center (Frankenstein,) Berkeley Repertory Theater (Head of Passes,) Baltimore Center Stage (One Night in Miami…) TheaterWorks (Clementine in the Lower 9,) The African American Shakespeare Company (Twelfth Nigh, Cinderella,) among others. On screen, Sullivan has appeared in Parks and Recreation (NBC,) Stanistan (USA) and recently starred in the video game NBA 2K17, alongside Michael B. Jordan. Sullivan is a recipient of the 2012 Princess Grace Award in Theater.

PETER O’CONNOR
Brian
Off-Broadway: The Flick (Barrow Street Theatre), so go the ghosts of mexico (La Mama), Jailbait (OBIE Award winner, Cherry Lane), Letters to the End of the World (Theatre Row), Balaton (Urban Stages), Sexual Neuroses of our Parents (The Wild Project), Kid Stuff (Theatre Row), among many others. Regional: Chinglish (Portland Stage/Syracuse Stage), The Aliens (SF Playhouse/Studio Theatre, DC), The Shape of Things, Beyond the Horizon (Center Stage), Richard II, All’s Well The Ends Well (St. Mark’s Church). TV/Film: “Public Morals,” “Flesh & Bone,” “Mercy,” “Law & Order,” “As The World Turns,” “Ed,” “Guiding Light,” “Book of Daniel,” Frat Star, The Last Treasure Hunt, among others

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