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Does He Like Black Girls? Program

ABOUT THE PLAY: NOTES FROM THE DRAMATURGS

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If you were to ask us what we do as dramaturgs, we would have to answer honestly: we don't really know. Our job title can encompass a myriad of different tasks, and the extent of our influence on a piece of theatre varies from production to production. But, just like our fellow artists—the directors, the actors, the designers—we are dedicated to the journey of discovery. This journey oftentimes continues even after opening night, and the epiphanies of creation can come to us long after we've moved onto other projects. In essence, we are seamsters and seamstresses, finding any holes or loose ends in a play and mending them; if there's a problem, we can help you fix it, or at least give you the tools that you need in order to fix it yourself.

The John Lion New Plays Festival presents two brand new works for the stage, one by an MFA student, the other by an undergraduate. Early versions of these two works were staged as online Zoom readings in the throes of the Pandemic. A panel of faculty and administration adjudicated each of the twelve plays and decided that these two, Invisible Women and Does He Like Black Girls were chosen as full productions for the Theatre Department’s first season back in person. We are so thrilled to present these stories for the first time on stage.

That said, Pamela August Russell’s play, Invisible Women, reimagines the interactions between two women, Helen Golay and Olga Rudderschmidt who were convicted of planning and staging the murders of Paul Vados and Kenneth McDavid, both vagrants, for insurance money the women had taken out on the men. Known as the Black Widow Murders, Pam reimagined the ladies as Helena and Edie, who have always seen themselves as invisible- disposable, ignored, and unseen. Helena and Edie’s foray into grifting is their response to their placeless roles in society, and as the grifts get bigger, so do the stakes. When they are finally caught by law enforcement, their response is so Marie Antoinette: let them eat cake. Invisible Women is the story of two ladies who see themselves as resourceful, toiling in the dark and forgotten in the background, but dispensable, nevertheless. Their response to their invisibility: murder. The real-life Helen and Olga were only convicted of two murders--- the real number they committed is unknown. Here, in Invisible Women, Helena and Edie planned and committed more, against men who they saw as dispensable. What does this say about our society, where those on the periphery turn upon others for profit? Pam takes us on that journey, and the results may not be what we expect in the end.

Veronica Driscoll’s Does He Like Black Girls is the story of three best friends, Trina, O’Naize, and Theo, who have viewed the world through the lens of the mantra “But does he like Black girls…” The White world commodifies Black culture but stops just short of fully embracing Blackness as the norm. When Trina starts dating Greg, a popular white teen at their school, this catapults the friends into a conflict that threatens the very foundation of their friendship. What does it mean to be Black in a world in which everything- society, art, culture, and a justice system, is stacked against you? Veronica engages us in this world, based upon her own high school world, and the voices are real and the questions she asks within the play forces us to confront the inequities in our society- Black culture is something to be lauded and admired and engaged with- but Black people remain marginalized, berated, feared and murdered on the streets. Will this ever change? Veronica’s play interrogates and engages us to engage with these questions and how this interrogation leads to real change

Two very different plays, by two very different students, reflect what art is supposed to do- force us to asak the questions that we as a society are unable to resolve. We see ourselves in these characters, in their disenfranchisement, in their power, in their bonds; their mistakes and their conciliations. What does it mean to be Black in a world that is stacked against you? What does it mean to be invisible, unseen, peripheral, unacknowledged?

We hope you enjoy these brand-new works for the stage, written by student playwrights.

Carolyn Dunn, PhD, Faculty Dramaturg

Eva Paiz, Assistant Dramaturg for Invisible Women

Damiona Barbosa, Assistant Dramaturg for Does He Like Black Girls?

 

FULL CAST/PRODUCTION/CREW CREDITS

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DOES HE LIKE BLACK GIRLS?

Written by Veronica Driscoll  ||  Directed by Melissa Coleman-Reed

CAST

Ashlyn Denson as O’Naize

Rosemary Che as Trina

Dominique Turner as Theo

Daemaurion Hann as Finn

Oscar Zubiran as Greg

Te’Leiah Powell as Ezekiel

Christopher John Magallanes as Cris

Carmell Moore as Emma

           

PRODUCTION TEAM

Scenic Designer - Natalie Morales

Lighting Designer - Bo Tindell

Costume Designer - Arturo Vega

Specialty Costume Design - Veronica Driscoll

Sound Designer - Nayla Hull

Soundtrack/Co-Sound Design - Melissa Coleman-Reed

Camera Production/TD - Moses Israel Guerrero

Props Coordinator - Casey Cuellar

Assistant Dramaturg - Damiona Barbosa

Stage Manager - Kendra Shenk

 

CREW

Assistant Technical Director - Rosalie Dierking

Assistant Props - Elisa Ruffalo

Graphics - Matt Roth

Scenic Painter - Alyssa Armas

House Manager - Carmelita Garcia Espinoza

Running Crew - Jonathon Jones; Angel Molina

Wardrobe Crew - April Yanez; Tiffany Quiroz

Light Board Operator - Selena Garcia

Sound Board Operator - Tallon Pedregosa

TV Production Crew - Seth Dorcey; Anthony Dunbar; JaNarie Rhambo; Savannah Rohloff; Matt Roth

Costume Shop Assistants - Daniel Balladares; Steven Gonzalez; Arturo Vega

Lighting Shop Assistant - Artie Peralez; Savannah Rohloff        

 

Faculty Dramaturg - Carolyn Dunn

Faculty Technical Director - Daniel Czypinski

Faculty Production Manager - Meredith Greenburg

Electrics Shop Supervisor - Tim Jones

Costume Shop Supervisor - Bruce Zwinge

TAD Department Coordinator - Laura Dickinson-Turner

 

New Plays Selection Committee

Dr. Carolyn Dunn

Steve Rothman

Randee Trabitz

Dr. Alicia Tycer

Dr. Katherine Weiss

Special Thanks

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Thank you to the following people without whom we could never have made this production possible: the TA 3000 Production Support students; Kristiina Hackel, Joseph Gallegos, and Matt Gatlin from TVFM; Artie Peralez and Midori King; Janet Dial; and last (but FAR from least!) the Staff of the Luckman Fine Arts Complex – Nicholas Mestas (Executive Director), Henry Harris (Business Manager) and especially Greg Sidnam for his hours and hours of work to make this experience happen for the students. . . . and a special thanks to EceNaz Ertunc!

DIRECTOR

Headshot of Director Melissa Coleman-Reed

MELISSA COLEMAN-REED

Melissa Coleman-Reed (Director) is an international theatre maker: Director, Actor, Producer. She is focused on the development of new works that foster activism & international collaborations, while building a platform to uplift the voices & stories of Artists of Color. Coleman-Reed is curious about truth in connection & movement, magic & transformation, ritual & ensembles. She believes in physical training for the artist's body/voice and fostering new/devised pieces through deep collaborative creation.

Her current studies / pursuits include: Intimacy Direction training with a focus on Certification as an Intimacy Coordinator. Butoh dance training with an emphasis on solo performance works. Birthing Advocacy Doula Training, to become a community advocate and support for birthing people, especially for birthing People of Color. Coleman-Reed is transitioning from solely working in the theatre as director & actor to pursuing opportunities to direct, act, write and produce for TV and Film, through mentorship and by shadowing fellow artists.

Directing credits include: Day of Saturn by Leviticus Jelks (SPF 12: The Road Theatre) Paradise Blue by Dominique Morisseau (Glendale Community College), You Didn't Die by John Lavelle (IAMA Theatre), Intimate Apparel by Lynn Nottage, Men On Boats by Jaclyn Backhaus, Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First One Hundred Years (New Village Arts).

Development/Readings/Workshop credits: SWITCHES by Amanda Black (Playwrights Arena), Unexplained Infertility by Peppur Chambers (Circle X Theatre), Long Division by Aja Houston (Inkwell Theatre), #galaseason by Geraldine Elizabeth Inoa (IAMA Theatre); Day of Saturn by Leviticus Jelks, Inhalation by John Lavelle (The Inkwell Theatre); The Pussy Grabber Plays: Rachels (Thymele Arts); A Captive Song by Christine Longé (Seattle).

Acting Credits: Son of Semele, Seattle Fringe, New Village Arts, the Without Walls Festival at the La Jolla Playhouse, the Old Globe, CORE Theatre Ensemble, Circle Circle dot dot, Moxie Theatre, Mo’olelo Performing Arts Company, Diversionary Theatre, ion theatre company, and InnerMission Productions.

Training: SITI Company (NY & LA), BGB Studios (LA), Butoh Master, Yoshito Ohno (JP), Vangeline Butoh (NY), Steppenwolf West (LA), and the School at Steppenwolf 2020/TBA Cohort (upcoming in Chicago 2022).

DIRECTOR'S NOTE

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Historically, I have a knack for coming into things somewhere at the beginning. And one of the best feelings for me as a Director, after reading the most recent draft of a writer’s play, is that knowing-feeling that there is more to the story and that the writer can go deeper, discover even more. If only they were given time and space and people with which to explore this new terrain. Tonight, we get to share the result of that exact process. Having workshopped quite a few new works over the course of the pandemic, all over Zoom, it has been a thrill to enter these sacred theatre spaces and begin to make work-in person, again. Each time I’m privileged to work, feels like the ultimate call to adventure.

Thanks to Meredith Greenburg, Randee Trabitz, Carolyn Dunn, Laura Dickinson-Turner and the theatre department here at CalState LA, we were able to provide John Lion New Play winner, Veronica Driscoll, the rare opportunity to workshop her play, Does He Like Black Girls?. And tonight, we present to you, a fully-staged workshopped-reading, thanks to Tim Jones, Daniel Czypinski, Bruce Zwinge and the incredible crew of CalState LA students working behind the scenes.

From chemistry meet, to casting our Ensemble, to first table read, to weeks of rewrites, tons of texts, endless email chains, late nite bi-coastal zoom meetings (one that ended at 330am-est/1230am-pst), it has been an Honor & Pleasure to witness the growth of Veronica as a writer. The Bravery and Grace and Joyfulness of the Cast has made each new discovery a delight. The Design team (which is helmed mostly with incredible Women of Color) have invested time, focus and passion into the quick build & birth of our show. The technical crew has worked with diligence & care to make sure our world moves & lives.

Many of the students in the cast are coming to this show through the haze of surviving the pandemic, many of them experiencing the campus for the first time this year. Our cast is a mix of MFA & Undergrad students who are working together for the first time, face to face, relearning how to share space and ideas in person. We have explored Ensemble Work with breath, movement, relaxation, visualization, the Viewpoints, lots circles, lots of counting, and just a touch of Suzuki.

The cast dove into the script, scene by scene, created rich characters with full lives and connections, and asked profound questions for Veronica, allowing her to mine the story even more. We, as a Company, dove into the question/title of the show, Does He Like Black Girls? with tenderness and vulnerability to discover what it means to be & feel seen or unseen, desired, judged, copied, ignored, and revered as a young Person of Color, particularly as young Black People in the world, with all its pressures/expectations today. We thank you for joining us! And look forward to your thoughts after the show.

~Melissa Coleman-Reed

CAST

Headshot of Actor Ashlyn Denson

ASHLYN DENSON

ASHLYN DENSON

Ashlyn is a 22-year-old graduate student who hails from the “striking like lightning” city of Tampa, Florida. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Theatre Arts performance from Bethune-Cookman University. Ashlyn starred in several main-stage roles as an undergraduate student. These roles include Miss. Patt and ‘The Girl’ in George C. Wolfe’s The Colored Museum, Ma Rainey in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Renee King in Denzel Smith’s Heavy, and Inez in Jean-Paul Sartre’s No Exit. Ashlyn is a second year Master of Fine Arts student at Cal State LA. She majors in Television, Film, & Theatre—Acting Option. She was cast as Mrs. Alexander her first semester at Cal State L.A. in the Zoom-live streamed play, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Additionally, Ashlyn was cast in several of the plays in the John Lion New Festival hosted at my university in the Spring of this year. Tonight, she will be playing the role of O’Naize in the production of Does He Like Black Girls? Ashlyn like to thank God, her grandparents, professors, cohort, Veronica Driscoll (the writer of the play), Melissa Coleman-Reed (the director), the fellow cast/crew, and the entire Television, Film, and Theatre department for such an amazing opportunity.

Headshot of Actor Rosemary Che

ROSEMARY CHE

Rosemary Che (Trina) is a 19-year-old sophomore at Cal State LA, majoring in Television, Film, and Media Studies. This is Rosemary’s first production at Cal State LA and she is ready to start her career in the Theatre Arts. She developed a passion for theatre in elementary school and decided to never stop there. Rosemary attended high school in the Bay Area and is excited to see what Los Angeles brings her! She would like to thank her family and her close friends for always supporting her through her life in theatre.

Headshot of Actor Dominique Turner

DOMINIQUE TURNER

Dominique Turner (Theo) is a 21-year-old Theatre Arts major at Cal State LA. She is a transfer student from Western Oregon University. Originally born and raised in Maui, Hawaii. Dominique graduated from Baldwin Highschool and had performed in a total of 14 shows there. Her favorite role she ever played was "Winnifred" in the show Once Upon A Mattress. She was inducted into the International Thespian Society her sophomore year. In the Fall of 2019, she attended Western Oregon University for her freshmen and sophomore year of college and majored in Theatre Arts.  At WOU she did a staged reading called Love and Information by the playwriter Caryl Churchill and was cast as "Slank" in the play Peter and the Starcatcher. After switching to virtual learning for a whole year due to the pandemic she decided to transfer to Cal State LA to hone her craft of acting and move to Los Angeles, California in pursuit of her dreams.

Headshot of Actor Daemaurion Hann

DAEMAURION HANN

Daemaurion Hann (Finn) is a first-year student at Cal State LA, Majoring in theater arts and dance with an option in Theater. This will be his first Cal State LA production. Daemaurion is from San Francisco, California which is where most of his acting experience took place with shows like Hairspray: The Musical (San Francisco Youth theater project) and youth theater program original play: Radical Travel. His favorite production was Hairspray: The Musical, in which he played Seaweed. Daemaurion would like to thank Veronica Driscoll and his family for believing in him and supporting his talents.

Photo of Actor Oscar Zubiran

OSCAR ZUBIRAN

Oscar Zubiran (Greg) is currently a freshman at Cal State LA. He is 18 years old from Bakersfield, California. He is majoring in Theatre Arts as a Performance Major. Does He Like Black Girls is Oscar’s debut performance as a Cal State LA student. He was most recently seen in Annie: The Musical, Shrek The Musical, Aladdin, and The Little Mermaid. Oscar is currently residing in Los Angeles where he hopes to pursue his dreams of being an actor. He would like to thank his friends and family for always being supportive for his future endeavors.

Photo of Actor Teleiah Powell

TELEIAH POWELL

Teleiah Powell (Ezekiel) is a freshman at Cal State LA, majoring in Theatre Arts, This is Teleiah’s first production with Cal State LA, having recently come from De Anza High School. She was most recently seen in the musical Into the Woods. Teleiah would like to thank her parents Lakeisha and Jerrod and the rest of her family and friends for always supporting her.

Headshot of Actor Chris Magallanes

CHRISTOPHER JOHN MAGALLANES

Christopher John Magallanes (Cris) is a proud son, brother, artist, and educator. He trained in theater at East Los Angeles College and Cal State LA, receiving his BA in Theater Arts from the latter. He loves theater, and the arts in general, because they give everyone a platform to share their beliefs, regardless of where they may stand in society. When you give your energy to art, art returns it one thousand, million-fold. Art gives life, art gives voice, art gives love, art gives. Follow him on Instagram and TikTok @chrismajin. He would like to formally thank his family, friends, fellow cast members, the stage crew, playwright, director, and you, the audience. Thank you. 

Headshot of Actor Carmell Moore

CARMELL MOORE

Hey, my name Carmell Moore and I play Emma/Young O’Naize in the show. My major is Theater Arts, and I am a senior. This is my second year here at Cal State Los Angeles and it has been a wonderful journey here at Cal State Los Angeles. Growing up I’ve really enjoyed the arts and I have always wanted to pursue a career in Film, Television, and Theatre with the support of my family and friends. Does He Like Black Girls? is an amazing play with a wonderful cast and crew. The show is very enjoyable to watch. I hope you all enjoy the show.

PRODUCTION TEAM

Photo of Scenic Designer Natalie Morales

NATALIE MORALES

Natalie Morales (Scenic Designer - she/her/hers) is a Theatrical Scenic Designer and Film Set Dresser based in the greater Los Angeles area. As a recent MFA graduate of CSULB's Theatre Arts Department, Natalie explores art, theatre, and film in her journey as a scenic designer. She achieved her Bachelor's degree at CSUN, and started by assisting various scenic designers in the San Fernando Valley and LA area. Natalie's hands-on experience opened new opportunities, allowing her to design her own productions in various theaters, as well as mentor design students of a new generation. She is now a professor of Digital Scenic Design for Theatre at CSUN. See more of her work here: http://nataliealessandra.wixsite.com/scenicdesigner (Scenic Designer - she/her/hers) is a Theatrical Scenic Designer and Film Set Dresser based in the greater Los Angeles area. As a recent MFA graduate of CSULB's Theatre Arts Department, Natalie explores art, theatre, and film in her journey as a scenic designer. She achieved her Bachelor's degree at CSUN, and started by assisting various scenic designers in the San Fernando Valley and LA area. Natalie's hands-on experience opened new opportunities, allowing her to design her own productions in various theaters, as well as mentor design students of a new generation. She is now a professor of Digital Scenic Design for Theatre at CSUN. See more of her work here: http://nataliealessandra.wixsite.com/scenicdesigner

Photo of Lighting Designer Bo Tindell

BO TINDELL

Bo is a freelance lighting designer based out of Los Angeles and very excited to be back working again with the amazing staff, students and faculty of CSULA.  Regional Designer Credits: San Diego Rep, Tuacahn Center for the Arts, Getty Villa Museum, Greenway Court Theatre, Berkeley Playhouse, NY Fringe, Circle X Theatre Co., Couerage Theatre, The TRIP, Ubuntu Theatre Co., La Jolla Playhouse.  M.F.A. from UC San Diego and B.A. from Cal State Fullerton.  www.wbtdesigns.com

Photo of Costume Designer Arturo Vega

ARTURO VEGA

Arturo Vega (Costume Designer) is a senior earning their B.A degree in Theatre Arts and Dance with an option in Theatre: Design and Production at Cal State LA. They have worked on Cal State LA’s virtual shows, such as: War of the Worlds and Dreaming of Our Future. This is Arturo’s first production on campus / in-person. 

Photo of Sound Designer Nayla Hull

NAYLA HULL

Nayla Hull (Sound Designer) is an alumnus of the Cal State LA Department of Theatre and Dance. She graduated in 2018 getting her start in Sound Design for the John Lion New Plays Festival. Nayla is constantly creating with photography, music, and music production. 

Photo of Props Coordinator Casey Cuellar

CASEY CUELLAR

Casey Cuellar (Props Coordinator) is a current student at Cal State LA and will be receiving her Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree in Theatre Performance in Spring 2022. This is her second time being props coordinator, with her first being We, The Invisibles. She has also been involved in productions such as She Kills Monsters (Tilly) and Fuente Ovejuna (Lady of Calatrava). She first came to Cal State LA to further her education in acting but has come to find a passion for prop work. Casey hopes to pursue both after graduation. She would like to thank the family, friends, and staff that have helped and supported her throughout her college journey. 

Photo of Stage Manager Kendra Shenk

KENDRA SHENK

Kendra Shenk (Stage Manager) is a senior at Cal State LA and is majoring in Theatre and Dance, with a concentration in Performance. She was last seen in See What I See, and is grateful to have been given the opportunity to make her stage-managing debut working with many talented collaborators.

CREW

Photo of House Manager Carmelita Garcia Espinoza

CARMELITA GARCIA ESPINOZA

Carmelita Garcia Espinoza (House Manager) is a Theatre major at Cal State LA, with an option in Performance. She is a transfer student from Pasadena City College, which was where her interest in theatre was nurtured primarily through various crew positions on productions like Urinetown, Cabaret, You Can’t Take It with You, and Metamorphoses among others. Her crewing positions during her time at Pasadena City College included House Management, Running Crew, Shop Crew, Costumes and Makeup Crew. Carmelita is an enthusiast of the collaborative effort that goes into putting on a production and is grateful for the opportunities to be a part of such a fulfilling process. Carmelita would like to thank her family for all their support, as well as others who have also been pillars through her educational journey.

Photo of Lighting Board Op Selena Nalua Garcia

SELENA NALUA GARCIA

Selena Nalua Garcia (Light Board Operator) is a senior at Cal State L.A., majoring in Theatre with an option in Design and Production. She is a transfer student from the Central Valley, where she graduated with an A.A. in Theatre Production from San Joaquin Delta College. Her credits for SJDC productions include lighting for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Uncle Vanya and Noises Off, as well as scenic construction for 1984. She is also credited with light design in a student directed production of A Few of Our Favorite Scenes. Selena is excited to be a part of her first production at Cal State L.A.

Headshot of Sound Board Operator Tallon Pedregosa

TALLON PEDREGOSA

Tallon Pedregosa (Sound Board Operator) is a digital content & multimedia creator from Stockton, CA. Born in San Francisco & raised in Culver City until the age of 8, Tallon always seeks to find his way on stage, whether it is working with lights, having some experience with building sets in the scene shop, to dancing & singing to an intimate or crowded space. His very first musical was Oklahoma in the 3rd grade, in which he played the villain Sinister. Tallon had no interest in furthering his acting career until his senior year in high school playing Jack Felton in The Bloody Attack of the Evil Demonic Giraffe Puppet, a comedy script called Of Royal Blood, & the Cowardly Lion in The Wiz musical. After high school, Tallon spent many years finding himself trying to figure out his career path; from culinary arts to nutrition, & finally majoring in Theatre Arts suggested by his high school drama teacher. During his last year at the local community college, Tallon operated light cues for Laramie Project & 2 rep workshops, soundboard operated for Noises Off, light designed & programmed for a show, & got to work with audio & video editing. His most recent performance on stage was Dances of Protest last Spring in the State Playhouse at Cal State Los Angeles. Tallon plans on finishing his last semester next fall in 2021.

Photo of Running Crew Angel Molina

ANGEL MOLINA

Angel Molina (Running Crew) is a senior, majoring in Theatre with an option in Design and Production. Stage Management credits include: Hamlet (Cal State LA), Fall 2019 Dance Concert (Cal State LA), Sweeney Todd (Cal State LA) and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Cal State LA). Running Crew credits include: Dear John Why Yoko? (Cal State LA), Invisible Women (Cal State LA) and Does He Like Black Girls? (Cal State LA). It was Angel's first time working on setting up and focus lights for the New Plays Festival which she liked doing and has taken an interested in lighting. As Angel is preparing to graduate in Spring 2022, she would like to thank her professors for helping her try new things to find her calling.