2021 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize winner Erika Dickerson-Despenza returns to The Public Theater with the environmental and family drama shadow/land. Check back for information on shadow/land tickets on New York Theatre Guide.
The shadow/land play takes place in New Orleans in August 2005 — just before Hurricane Katrina is about to devastate the city. Eighty-year-old Magalee, the owner of a once-thriving dance hall/hotel called Shadowland, clings to the building even as it's sure to be destroyed soon, as it represents her whole livelihood and a larger history of the city's Black community. But she clashes with her daughter, Ruth, who just wants her mom to sell Shadowland and escape the storm with her.
The Public first presented shadow/land as an audio play in 2021, and the production received critical acclaim. "Living carefree is not a freedom equally distributed in a world that, as Dickerson-Despenza reveals it, is steeped in racism," a New York Times review reads.
shadow/land is the first play in a 10-play cycle about the disaster, displacement, and urban renewal in and beyond New Orleans as a result of Hurricane Katrina. The second play in this cycle, [hieroglyph], debuted in 2021 with San Francisco Playhouse; that production was filmed and streamed.
In between the shadow/land podcast and shadow/land off Broadway, the Public presented another of Dickerson-Despenza's plays, Cullud Wattah, in its fall 2022 season. That play about the effects of the Flint water crisis also received critical acclaim and the Susan Smith Blackburn Prize, an award recognizing works by female playwrights.
Check back for information on tickets to shadow/land in New York.
Photo credit: Erika Dickerson-Despenza by Joey Stocks
April 20th, 2023
May 28th, 2023
Cast and creative
By: Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Director: Candis C. Jones
Producer: The Public Theater Cast list: Joniece Abbott-Pratt (as Ruth), Lizan Mitchell (as Magalee), Christine Shepherd (as Grand Marshall), Lynnette R. Freeman (as Ruth understudy), Perri Gaffney (as Magalee understudy), Joy-Marie Thompson (as Grand Marshall understudy)
Design: Jason Ardizzone-West
Costumes: Azalea Fairley
Lighting: Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew
Sound: Palmer Hefferan
Other info: Hair, wig, and makeup design by Earon Chew Nealey; original music by Delfeayo Marsalis; intimacy direction by Ann James