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L.A. premiere of ‘Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies’
explores racial identity, privilege and pop culture at the Echo
LOS ANGELES (February 3, 2022) — The Echo Theater Company presents an irreverent, darkly funny coming-of-age story that explores racial identity, privilege and pop culture with insight, passion and biting humor. Ahmed Best directs the Los Angeles premiere of Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies by rising-star playwright Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm, set to open March 12 for a six-week run through April 18. Three “pay what you want” previews take place on March 9, March 10 and March 11.
Marquis and Tru are both 14-year-old Black boys, but they exist in two completely different worlds. Marquis is a book smart prep-schooler living in the affluent suburb of Achievement Heights, while Tru is a street savvy kid from deep within the inner city of Baltimore. Their worlds overlap one day in a holding cell. Tru decides that Marquis has lost his “blackness” and pens a how-to manual entitled “Being Black for Dummies.” He assumes the role of professor, but Marquis proves to be a reluctant pupil. They butt heads, debate, wrestle and ultimately prove that Nietzsche and 2pac were basically saying the same thing.
“Hooded uses comedy to bring us into a world where we take a deep, challenging look into race and how we deal with the tragedies of prejudice and stereotype,” says Best. “It builds a world where we can question our perception and beliefs about one another and discover the sameness in our differences.”
Chisholm’s play is the latest in a series of Echo-produced dark comedies about what it means to come of age in America, including, Dry Land, a play about female friendship, abortion and resiliency (2016 Ovation award for Best Production); The Wolves, in which members of a high school girls’ soccer team navigate life’s “big” questions (Los Angeles Times “Best of 2019” list) and, most recently, Poor Clare, in which an eerily modern 13th century teenager named Clare of Assisi has her eyes opened to the injustice of the world around her (Los Angeles Times 2021 “Memories that Cry out for Commemoration” list, current nominee for the Susan Blackburn Smith Award).
The Hooded ensemble features Tasha Ames, Clare Margaret Donovan, Vincent Doud, Ezekiel Goodman, Brent Grimes, Robert Hart, Betsy Stewart and Jalen K. Stewart. The creative team includes scenic designer Song Yi Park, lighting designer Matt Richter, sound designer Alysha Grace Bermudez, costume designer Elena Flores, casting director Tal Fox and graphic designer Christopher Komuro. The production stage manager is Danielle Jaramillo. Chris Fields, Kelly Beech, Charrell Mack and Rachael Zambias produce for the Echo Theater Company.
Hooded premiered in 2017 in a Mosaic Theatre production at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington D.C., winning the Helen Hayes Award. The production was so successful that it was revived a year later. Writing in the Washington Post, theater critic Nelson Pressley called it “a whip-smart comedy… Chisholm writes with fury and indignation while making the show fresh, funny and entirely fearless. It was one of my top picks of the year, and watching Mosaic Theater’s revivaI, I stand by it.” The play will receive its New York City premiere this summer at 59E59.
Chisolm’s other plays include P.Y.G., which he directed in its premiere at Washington D.C.’s Studio Theater, and Br’er Cotton, which had a critically acclaimed production by London’s Theatre 503 (nominee, Evening Standard Charles Wintour Award for Most Promising Playwright) and received an NNPN Rolling World Premiere. He was a finalist for the Inaugural Relentless Award and a part of the Pacific Playwrights Festival at South Coast Rep with Anacostia Street Lions. He developed Black Lady Authority at the Sundance Theater Lab and Black Dick at the O’Neill National Playwrights Conference. Chisholm holds an MFA in Playwriting from the Catholic University of America and is a graduate of the Juilliard Lila Wallace American Playwrights program. In Hollywood, Chisholm has written for a number of TV series and is currently developing his own show, the sci-fi dramedy Demascus, with AMC and Gran Via Productions.
Founded in 1997, the Echo Theater Company has gained a reputation for producing and developing exciting new work. Under the artistic leadership of Chris Fields, the company has championed playwrights for a quarter century, producing and commissioning numerous world premieres and introducing Los Angeles to playwrights David Lindsay-Abaire, Adam Rapp and Sarah Ruhl among others. The Echo has won countless Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, Ovation, LA Weekly and Stage Raw awards, and is frequently cited on end-of-the-year “Best of Lists” including by the Los Angeles Times, LA Observed and NPR affiliate KCRW 89.9 FM, among others. The company was anointed “Best Bet for Ballsy Original Plays” by the LA Weekly and was a recipient of a “Kilroy Cake Drop” to honor its efforts to produce women and trans writers. KCRW declared that “Echo Theater Company is on a fierce journey,” and Los Angeles Times theater critic Charles McNulty wrote, “Artistic directors of theaters of all sizes would be wise to follow the [lead] of the Echo’s Chris Fields, who [is] building audience communities eager for the challenge of path-breaking plays.”
Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies opens on Saturday, March 12, with performances continuing on Fridays and Saturdays at 8 p.m.; Sundays at 4 p.m.; and Mondays at 8 p.m. through April 18. Three preview performances are set for Wednesday, March 9; Thursday, March 10; and Friday, March 11, each at 8 p.m. Tickets are $34 on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. All Monday night performances, as well as previews, are pay-what-you-want. Atwater Village Theatre is located at 3269 Casitas Ave in Los Angeles, CA 90039. On-site parking is free. Proof of full vaccination (including booster shot if eligible) or a negative PCR test within 72 hours and valid ID are required for admission. Patrons must remain fully masked throughout the performances. For reservations and information, call (310) 307-3753 or go to www.EchoTheaterCompany.com.
Details for Calendar Listings
‘Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies’
The Echo Theater Company explores racial identity, privilege and pop culture with the Los Angeles premiere of Hooded, or Being Black for Dummies. Marquis and Tru are both 14-year-old Black boys, but they exist in two completely different worlds. Marquis is a book smart prep-schooler living in the affluent suburb of Achievement Heights; while Tru is a street savvy kid from deep within the inner city of Baltimore. Their worlds overlap one day in a holding cell. Tru decides that Marquis has lost his “blackness” and pens a how-to manual entitled “Being Black for Dummies.” He assumes the role of professor, but Marquis proves to be a reluctant pupil. They butt heads, debate, wrestle and ultimately prove that Nietzsche and 2pac were basically saying the same thing.
• Written by Tearrance Arvelle Chisholm
• Directed by Ahmed Best
• Starring Tasha Ames, Clare Margaret Donovan, Vincent Doud, Ezekiel Goodman, Brent Grimes, Robert Hart, Betsy Stewart, Jalen K. Stewartz
• Presented by The Echo Theater Company, Chris Fields artistic director
Previews: March 9, March 10, March 11
Performances: March 12 – April 18
• Wednesday at 8 p.m.: March 9 ONLY (preview)
• Thursday at 8 p.m.: March 10 ONLY (preview)
• Fridays at 8 p.m.: March 11 (preview), March 18, March 25, April 1, April 8, April 15
• Saturdays at 8 p.m.: March 12 (opening night), March 19, March 26, April 2, April 9, April 16
• Sundays at 4 p.m.: March 13, March 20, March 27, April 3, April 10, April 17
• Mondays at 8 p.m.: March 14, March 21, March 28, April 4, April 11, April 18
Echo Theater Company
Atwater Village Theatre
3269 Casitas Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90039
FREE in the Atwater Crossing (AXT) lot one block south of the theater
• Proof of full vaccination (including booster shot if eligible) or a negative PCR test within 72 hours and valid ID are required for admission.
• Patrons must remain fully masked throughout the performances.
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