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Lower Bottom Playaz present August Wilson’s ‘Two Trains Running’

July 1, 2014

The Lower Bottom Playaz take pride in paying actors and technical crew and need to raise $2,500 by July 31; please contribute all you can to this troupe that is the pride of the Black Bay Area by clicking HERE and buy your tickets for performances Aug. 1, 2 and 3 HERE

by Dr. Ayodele Nzinga

The Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., are a theater troupe in Oakland, a resident troupe at The Flight Deck, currently in their 14th season of theater production in the East Bay. In 2010 the troupe undertook the production of the entire American Century Cycle by August Wilson. The American Century Cycle is a sweeping view of the 20th century though the lens of North American Africans.

A scene from Lower Bottom Playaz’ production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running”

A scene from Lower Bottom Playaz’ production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running”

Wilson, America’s Shakespeare, brings history to life with rich language, master story telling and the offering of characters culled fully formed from life, bursting at the seams with wisdom, yearning and the dream of inclusion in America. His epic work offers an artistic entry point into several issues ever present in the American public sphere, in particular the destiny of people of color not fully melted in the smelting pot of democracy, as well as the topics of racial migrations, urban renewal, gentrification, displacement, incarceration, religion and social equity.

Wilson’s work is arguably some of the best American theater ever created. The Lower Bottom Playaz, Oakland’s oldest consistently producing North American African theater troupe, are determined to be the first theater troupe in theater history to stage the entire 10-play series in chronological order of the decades represented in the 10 plays.

If they are successful, they will be the first troupe on the planet to fully stage the cycle, from “Gem of the Ocean” to “Radio Golf.” “Two Trains Running” is the seventh play in Wilson’s epic cycle, wherein Wilson continues his habit of offering us fully crafted ordinary people in extraordinary times so that we can see ourselves in the story.

Through the consideration of the lives of ordinary people, we learn that we are all capable of being extraordinary. He reminds us of something we cannot forget: our worth, our value and our all-powerful and enduring song of self. Wilson’s work in the American Century Cycle is a valuable tool for understanding where we are in the story, how we got here and how we might imagine moving forward.

Wilson is a Sankofa playwright. His power is to speak to the present by chronicling the past. “Two Trains Running” is set in 1969 in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where there is a swelling discontent at the rough rhythms of urban renewal’s drunken waltz though the once vibrant and prosperous Hill. The city’s use of eminent domain invites yet another search for a resting place in the North America of hopeful dreams.

“Two Trains Running” is the seventh play in Wilson’s epic cycle, wherein Wilson continues his habit of offering us fully crafted ordinary people in extraordinary times so that we can see ourselves in the story.

The production of the work by the Lower Bottom Playaz hailing from West Oakland is a work of testimony and an invitation to invest in deeper conversations about development and displacement that might enable meaningful discoveries about place, home, the supposed inevitability of progress and how deeply the desire for self-determined dreams is rooted in marginalized spaces.

The Lower Bottom Playaz remain committed to providing opportunity to artists of color, to exposing invisible narratives, to celebrating our culture and our stories as a method of inviting conversations that offer the space to discuss issues that compose the fabric of America.

Visit the Lower Bottom Playaz at www.lowerbottomplayaz.com to purchase tickets for this production, opening Aug. 1, 2014, for a limited three-day engagement. Tickets are priced at $15 senior and student discount, $20 general admission and $35 VIP. Show time Friday and Saturday is 7 p.m. curtains, Sunday a matinee only at 2 p.m. with a closing VIP reception immediately following at The Flight Deck, located at 1540 Broadway, Oakland. Call the box office at 510-332-1319. Email wordslanger@gmail.com for group rates or advertising and sponsorship opportunities.

We have less than a month to raise $2,500

The Lower Bottom Playaz pride ourselves in paying our performers. Our practice helps to employ actors of color and helps to provide diversity in theater offerings in the San Francisco Bay Area. We employ artists, create original work, present important work and train youth in theater arts.

We concentrate on the presentation and creation of work that connects us to the universal in the human condition and enables dialogues that engage perceptions of difference and issues of concern for all inner city spaces. Our dedication to the American Century Cycle encompasses our goals of being of service to underserved audiences, articulating invisible narratives, providing opportunity to performers of color, and the creation of bold theater that aims to transform.

I am raising funds to support the production of “Two Trains Running” by August Wilson at the Flight Deck. Funds donated to this campaign will pay actors and technical crew in this production. A gift of $100 will pay an actor for a night’s performance. A gift of $600 will pay two actors for the run of this production. If we are successful in raising the minimum of $2,500, the effort will pay all the actors in “Two Trains Running.” If we raise our entire goal, it will also pay our technical crew for their work. I urge you to support this production and the Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc., Oakland’s oldest producing North American African theater troupe.

Creating community one story at a time,

Lower Bottom Playaz, Inc.

Dr. Ayodele Nzinga, founder and director of Lower Bottom Playaz, can be reached at wordslanger@gmail.com.

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