By Face Off Theatre Company
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The always trend-setting Face Off Theatre Company, Kalamazoo’s premier Black theater group, paves the way for local theater in reopening to in-person audiences with this month’s staging of Kalamazoo playwright Vickie G. Hampton’s “I Am Grace,” a moving play exploring race, class and forgiveness in the aftermath of a powerful person’s son doing heinous acts in a small town. Safety protocols will be in place.
“We are very excited to finally produce this piece that we've been workshopping with the playwright, Vickie, for a couple of years,” says Artistic Director Marissa Harrington. “Vickie very effortlessly captures the voice of young Grace, as well as, the dynamics within the African-American family.
"Additionally, it's a story that I feel is extremely universal. How do families deal with hardship and trauma? After all the uncertainties of 2020 that we experienced, I'm sure every person watching this will be able to relate to this story of survival and resilience.”
Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. May 21-23 and 2 p.m. May 22-23 at Dormouse Theatre, 1030 Portage St., Kalamazoo, located at the corner Lake and Portage streets. Audiences will enjoy that we have transitioned to a pay-what-you-can model, but note that the production's mature themes are not suitable for children.
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This is Face Off Theatre’s first production in front of a live audience since last year (all others have been virtual). Guests and the cast will be kept safe through reduced seating, masks and social distancing, plus an option to view the show online.
The cast, director
"I Am Grace" is directed by Este’Fan Kizer, who appeared in our joint musical with Farmers Alley Theatre last summer of Bob Marley's "Three Little Birds."
Two other actors from that show are in this one: Khadijah Brown (Fay "Mop" Lloyd) and Bri Edgerton (Lorrie). This is Khadijah's sixth show with Face Off Theatre. She had the leading role in our season opener in February of this year, Lynn Nottage's "Fabulation, or the Re-Education of Undine," about a public relations executive's fall from grace.
Getting top billing in "I Am Grace" is Aija Hodges as Grace Lloyd. Rounding out the amazing cast are Marc Wilson (Rupert "Pop" Lloyd), Michael Davis Arnold (Abel Lloyd), Derek Miller (Aaron Lloyd), and Nicki Poer (Mrs. Graham).
Our 2021 season kicked off in February. “I Am Grace” is the second of our five plays this year.
About Face Off Theatre Company
Face Off Theatre Company was founded in 2015 in Kalamazoo by six African-American women with theater and playwriting degrees from Western Michigan University. We are devoted to thought-provoking Black theater and the development of playwrights, actors and directors of color, drawing audiences from throughout Southwest Michigan to our performances.
About the Playwright
Vickie G. Hampton is an award-winning editor and writer. Her short play about retail racial profiling, “I’m Not Buying It,” was staged by Face Off Theatre Company in July 2020 as part of our Virtual New Play Series. Now we are presenting her full-length play, “I Am Grace." Her play, “Learning Curve,” was selected as an “A-Lister” for a staged reading at the 2019 National Black Theater Festival. The biennial festival draws nearly 60,000 theater patrons from around the globe to Winston Salem, N.C., to showcase the best of Black theater. Her “I Am Grace” play was an “A-Lister” at the 2017 National Black Theatre Festival.
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