Little Black Shadows

by Kemp Powers
directed by May Adrales
Originally produced at South Coast Repertory, Costa Mesa, CA
April 8 to April 29, 2018

About the Premiere Production:

Synopsis: Set in 1850 on a Georgia plantation, Little Black Shadows centers on the family within the home. The play opens on the young Toy and Colis whispering to each other about their hopes and dreams. Toy is glad to work in the house, given the horror stories her enslaved mother told her about working in the field, but Colis never met his mother, a field worker, and longs to roam free in hopes of finding her. Toy and Colis sleep under the beds of their masters, adolescent twins Mittie and Daniel, and the dead of night is their only time to talk; during the day they silently serve their masters, tending to their every want. Mittie is her father’s favorite, but Father thinks Daniel is soft and needs to man up. Father announces he is moving the family to Louisiana—despite Mother’s resistance. What will this mean for Toy and Colis and their young masters? Their lives are facing a major upheaval—do they dare come out of the shadows? 

Artistic Statement: Little Black Shadows came to SCR the old fashioned way, as an over-the-transom submission, and we were immediately taken with it -- as was the large audience of theatre professionals who saw a staged reading of the play in the 2016 Pacific Playwrights Festival.  Kemp, who began his story-telling career as a journalist and then a contributor to the Peabody Award-winning series, “The Moth,” is a meticulous researcher, and Little Black Shadows grew out of several trips he made to the South—both Georgia and Louisiana—to find source material and inspiration.  The play resonates with a feeling of visceral authenticity, and while the subject matter -- the human and societal cost of slavery -- may be familiar, his particular take on it is original, theatrical and full of compassion for how slavery affected children on both sides of the equation.

Grant Statement : The extra week of rehearsal afforded by the Edgerton Foundation award will allow director and playwright to continue the process of textual refinement with the collaboration of all the actors and designers who will bring the production to life.

 Andy Knight 

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