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Upcoming Performances
  Native Son
Native Son

by Nambi E. Kelley
adapted from the novel by Richard Wright

directed by Casey Stangl

the annual Quinn Martin production

November 7–19, 2016

Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre

About the Play

Suffocating in rat-infested poverty on the South Side of Chicago in the 1930s, 20-year-old Bigger Thomas struggles to find a place for himself in a world whose prejudice has shut him out. After taking a job in a wealthy white man's house, Bigger unwittingly unleashes a series of events that violently and irrevocably seal his fate. Adapted with theatrical ingenuity by Chicago's own Nambi E. Kelley, this Native Son captures the power of Richard Wright's novel for a whole new generation. (Samuel French)

About the Playwright
Nambi E. Kelley has penned plays for Steppenwolf, Goodman Theatre, and Court Theatre in Chicago, Lincoln Center in New York, and internationally. Most recently, Kelley's adaption of Native Son was a critically acclaimed success at the Court Theatre in Chicago. Kelley recently returned to Singapore to perform in her co-adaptation of The Book of Living and Dying that will be published in an anthology of plays in Singapore in 2014.
About the Director

Casey Stangl: Recent projects include the critically acclaimed hit Cloud 9 at Antaeus Company in Los Angeles, Venus in Fur and The Light Princess at South Coast Repertory, Love and Information and Ah! Wilderness at American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco, Stage Kiss for the Guthrie Theater and Val Kilmer’s one-man show Citizen Twain at Dallas Theater Center and the Kirk Douglas Theater in LA. Caseyserved a twelve-year tenure as Artistic Director of Eye of the Storm Theatre in Minneapolis, a company she co-founded to develop and produce new plays and for which she was named Artist of the Year by the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Since relocating to Los Angeles in 2005 Casey has continued working with playwrights in the development of new work. Recent collaborations include Josh Kornbluth’s newest piece, The Bottomless Bowl, for Berkeley Repertory Theater’s GroundFloor, and Bekah Brunstetter’s The Cake for Ojai Playwrights’ Conference. Upcoming projects include a workshop of Carey Perloff’s The Fit at Kansas City Repertory and the world premiere of Michael Mitnick’s The Siegel at South Coast Repertory. Casey serves on the Executive Board of SDC, the national union of stage directors and choreographers.

Director's Statement

“The sound of the alarm clock that opens Native Son was Richard Wright’s urgent call in 1940 to America to awaken from its self-induced slumber about the reality of race relations in the nation. As proud, rich, and powerful as America was, Wright insisted, the nation was facing a grave danger, one that would ultimately destroy the United States if its dimensions and devious complexity were not recognized.”
-from the novel’s Introduction, written by Arnold Rampersad

When I read these words, written in 1993, I felt like they had been written yesterday. Nambi E. Kelley’s searing, expressionistic adaptation of Wright’s seminal novel speaks directly to us now, to America today. Bigger’s journey - from seeing himself through the eyes of a society that considers him “a black rat sonofabitch” to discovering his humanity – demands that we ask ourselves: In this time of stark division, what does freedom look like?

A Statement from the Dramaturg

We all have that insidious voice inside our heads that antagonize everything we say and do. This is why Spiritual Teacher and Writer Eckhart Tolle says don’t think. But for some, turning this voice off and operating from an untainted source would mean self-extermination because that voice determines their very existence.

In her brilliant, visceral, non-linear and theatrical adaptation of Richard Wright’s timeless novel Native Son (1940), playwright Nambi E. Kelley takes us into the final moment of Bigger Thomas’s life and psychic world where there is no sonic relief. The Black Rat is a dramatization of his inner voice, or what critical race scholar W.E.B. Du Bois termed Double-Consciousness: “this sense of always looking at one’s self through the eyes of others, of measuring one’s soul by the tape of a world that looks on in amused contempt and pity.” Double-Consciousness specifically applies to Bigger (ie Black people) because he resides in a liminal state of citizenship and property, where his existence is made inextricable to whites – as he recalls: Like somebody step in my skin, start acting for me. Like my mind ain’t my mind, like…my body is their body.

Withal, one way of understanding Bigger is through the performance of captivity and the denial of an encompassing cathartic event, in which Kelley explores if the Black body is a place of re-traumatizing transformations where violence, agency, redemption, and identity remain in discord.

~ Tezeru Teshome

The Cast

BIGGER – Terrance White
THE BLACK RAT – Deleon Dallas
MARY – Claire Roberson
JAN – Kyle Hester
HANNAH – Kimberly Monks
BUDDY – Yonatan Gebeyehu
BESSIE – Zora Howard
MRS. DALTON – Caroline Siewert
BRITTEN – Volen Iliev
The Creative Team

Director – Casey Stangl
Scenic & Props Designer – Justin Humphres
Costume Designer – Jaymee Ngernwichit
Lighting Designer – Chao-Yu Tsai
Sound Designer – Melanie Chen
Dramaturg – Tezeru Teshome
Voice & Speech Coach – Ursula Meyer
Asst. Lighting Designer – Minjoo Kim
Production Stage Manager – Mandisa Reed
Asst. Stage Managers – Ashley Martin, Bryan Runion

Production Assistant – Hazel Park

Performances Parking & Location

Located at: Sheila and Hughes Potiker Theatre

Parking Passes Required: Monday through Friday. Weeknight passes are $2 per vehicle from the vending machines located in the UC San Diego Theatre District/La Jolla Playhouse parking lots and entry display case. Please remember your parking space number. You will need it to purchase your parking pass.

Note: Machines take all major credit cards except Discover and when paying with cash you must use exact change, NO CHANGE GIVEN.

Parking Passes Not Required: Saturdays and Sundays


Cars without permits are subject to ticketing by UCSD Campus Police. The Theatre & Dance Department does not have the authority to waive and cannot pay parking tickets.








Nov. 7

Nov. 9

Nov. 10

Nov. 12

Nov. 12

Nov. 17

Nov. 18

Nov. 19
7:00 pm     PREVIEW

7:00 pm     PREVIEW

7:30 pm     OPENING

2:00 pm

7:30 pm

7:30 pm

7:30 pm

7:30 pm    

Advance tickets for this production are available Tuesday-Friday, noon to 6 pm by calling the Box Office at 858.534.4574 or in person at the Theatre District’s Central Box Office at the Sheila & Hughes Potiker Theatre.

At-the-Door tickets, if available, can be purchased one hour before show time at the performing theatre’s box office at Mandell Weiss Theatre.

General Admission: $20
UCSD Faculty/Staff/Alumni Association, and Seniors (over 62): $15
UCSD Students/UCSD Alumni Association (with ID): $10

Please note: No late seating; no refunds.

Theatre & Dance Faculty, Staff & Majors Only >>


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