TEARS OF MOONS GRAPPLES WITH HISTORY

 HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH YOUR RAGE? YOUNG BLACK PLAYWRIGHT ASKS MINNESOTANS TO GRAPPLE WITH OUR SHARED HISTORY IN ONLINE SOLO PLAY 

Media Contact – Connie Shaver shaver@parksquaretheatre.org 

Saint Paul, Minn., November 5, 2020 – Park Square Theatre announces a new production of TEARS OF MOONS, written and performed by Antonio Duke and directed by Ellen Fenster. The poetic solo show winds through time – on the number 5 bus – bearing witness to the historic pervasiveness of violence against Black people and its role in our shared history. Both personal and expansive, the play reckons with the past and shares a vision of strength that interweaves African spiritual figures and mythology with Greek epic theatre. “The heartache and resiliency of the black spirit is as old as time itself,” says Duke, “Unfortunately, it is newly being tested time and time again.” TEARS OF MOONS will be filmed on Park Square’s Boss Stage and shown through Zoom November 19-22, 2020, along with live post-show conversations with Duke, Fenster and a moderator. The play will not be available for streaming. 

A young black man sits in a bus stop. He has an African mask and backpack with him.Structured around The Poet, a Homeric narrator wrestling with his own rage and ineffectuality, Duke deftly weaves in other characters, victims of racial violence, some recognizable from news headlines and others representing the lost stories of many. First written in 2015, Duke is judiciously updating the play in response to current events“As a black playwright, I conjure stories specifically for black folk so we can have a forum to communally bear witness to the rage we usually hide,” he says. “But I want everyone to see it so that the suffering people go through can be remembered and honored through ritual. The human condition is the human condition. Empathy is empathy. The victims of racial violence I speak on are human and their stories speak to our shared humanity. I want to ignite a fire within the audience’s spirit.” 

“We have been talking during rehearsal about how the racial trauma of our shared history affects everyone,” says director Ellen Fenster, who is also a Park Square Artistic Associate. “Iaffects how we interact and trust one another on the micro level, and how our systems work for some and not others on the macro level. These are such deep wounds and in my opinion we all suffer from them, whether we consciously realize it or not. This play is for anyone who wants to start to reconcile the racial trauma we live with in the United States, particularly white people who want to educate themselves and learn from a Black playwright who is coping with violence against Black people. This play illustrates with real information why racism and our racist past continues to haunt us.”  

The play is one of the first, following a three-part Halloween variety series, to be programmed by Park Square’s new leadership team which includes four Artistic Associates and Interim Executive Director Mark Ferraro-Hauck. “Part of what makes this play so incredibly meaningful, and why we so wanted to produce it, is Antonio Duke himself,” says Ferraro-Hauck. “He has a wonderfully grounded, gentle and wise presence. You can tell he comes from place of deep compassion as a storyteller. He brings you along with him like a trusted companion.”

“Antonio wrote this play five years ago,” notes Fenster, “and unfortunately it has only become more relevant. The content can stir a lot of emotions and be uncomfortable, which is why we are hosting it through Zoom instead of streaming. We are strongly encouraging audiences to stay with us after each performance to reflect and start processing these deep feelings. 2020 has been a year or recognizing and reckoning, and this play is a witness not only to our history, but how we might grapple with this moment. It is a witness to the truth and the challenge we have before us.” 

ABOUT THE ARTISTS 

TEARS OF MOONS is performed entirely by Antonio Duke. 

The Production Team for TEARS OF MOONS includes Ellen Fenster (Director) Emmet Kowler (Lighting and Projection Design), Erin Gustafson (Stage Manager), Tomas Leal/Leal Studios (Videographer). 

Antonio Duke is a Twin Cities based actor and playwright. In his work he focuses on mythology. Within mythos lies intimate and epic circumstances that he is driven to explore. He conjures most of his muse form black spiritualities; specifically, those deities from the Yoruba, Santeria and Vodou traditions. His artistic mission is to provide conjuration spells for black folk. By offering black magic he hopes to illuminate a communal healing space. He is an alumnus of the University of Minnesota/Guthrie B.F.A. Actor Training Program. He has been seen on stages with The Blue Barn Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Pillsbury House + Theatre, Climb Theatre, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and the Guthrie Theatre. His first solo performance piece Tears of Moons was accepted into the Guthrie Theatre’s Solo Emerging Artist Celebration. His second solo performance piece Ashes of Moons premiered at Pillsbury House Theatre’s as a part of their Naked Stages Fellowship. He received both the Artist Initiative Grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board and Jerome Hill Artist Fellowship for his next solo piece Missing Mississippi Moons. He is the Co-Artistic Director of The Black Ensemble Players. You can expect him to cultivate many more stages as his journey continues to grow.  

Ellen Fenster is a professional theater director and arts educator in Minneapolis and part of Park Square Theatre’s artistic leadership team. Ellen has directed at Pillsbury House Theatre, The Illusion Theater, Yellow Tree Theater, Theatre Mu, Artistry, Gremlin Theatre, U of MN/Guthrie Theater Actor Training Program and Park Square Theater. She is an associate artist at Pillsbury House Theatre where she ran the Chicago Avenue Project from 2008 to 2016She is also an artistic associate at Illusion Theatre where she helps connect the theater with young and emerging artists. She is currently the Artistic and Executive Director of Twin Cities Theater Camp, a summer theater intensive for children. 

TICKET PRICES: All Tickets $25
Tickets are on sale at www.parksquaretheatre.org.  

The ticket office is temporarily closed due to corona virus. 
Please email tickets@parksquaretheatre.org with questions. 

CALENDAR INFORMATION: Nov 19, 20, 21 at 7:30 pm, Nov 22 at 2:00 pm 

PHOTOS : download at https://parksquaretheatre.org/media/photos/
Photos by Aaron Fenster.  

PARK SQUARE THEATRE. 20 W. Seventh Place, Saint Paul. www.parksquaretheatre.org 

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