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The Willis Richardson Players and Triune Repertory Theatre & Film will present “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men” April 25 and 26 at Thalian Hall Studio Theatre at 310 Chestnut St. in Wilmington.
Show times are 8 p.m. Friday, April 25, and 3 and 8 p.m. Saturday, April 26.
The play by Lonne Elder III debuted Off Broadway in 1969 by Negro Ensemble Company, became a long-running commercial production and was adapted for television in 1975.
The seven-character production is set in Russell B. Parker’s struggling Harlem barbershop, which provides sanctuary for two African-American men as they discuss the problems of the world. His daughter, Adele, helps him stay afloat through her job, while his sons, Bobby and Theo, are drawn to lives of crime.
William Jenkins is the other “dark old man” of the drama as he and the barber trade insults and dares and compete at checkers.
The play is described by the Oxford Companion to African American Literature as “a dramatization of rituals — of survival, friendship, deception and manipulation, self-deception, black male friendship, shifting intra-familial allegiances and black manhood.”
As Elder depicts the ineffectual lives of an African-American family trapped by rituals of economic and spiritual dependence, he encourages awareness and breaking free of “ceremonies” that lead to personal loss and tragedy.
“Ceremonies” “challenges the myth that the social, political and economic plight of black America rests in white people’s hands,” according to the review.
“Through layers of ritual, Elder demonstrates the futility, corruption and internal disruptions that result from efforts to undermine a capitalist system that seeks to determine and define African Americans’ worth and selfhood.”
This local version of “Ceremonies” is being directed by film and theater actor/director Daren L. Beatty of Wilmington.
Cast members include Jerome Williams, Maxwell Paige, Angela Gray, Ronnie Beatty, Benjamin Foreman, Robert Frinks and Katrina Hargrave.
Tickets are $20.
For more information, call the Thalian box office at 632-2285 or go to www.thalian.org.