Jay Michaels sat down with playwright James Crafford regarding his latest works at the American Theatre of Actors.
James Crafford began his theatre life studying with the legendary Stella Adler 46 years ago. After suffering through five showcases that failed prior to even opening he decided to do it himself. His first showcase of works as a playwright was approved and produced by Ms. Adler sight unseen. He continued contributing works for Ms. Adler for the next two years. One of his works was optioned for Broadway, which took him on a journey that continues today as a distinguished playwright.
It’s no wonder James Jennings – one of the founding fathers of the off-off Broadway movement – offered Crafford a home at the ATA. Crafford has since supplied plays and screenplays to Jennings and his merry troupe making him a household name in that house. One of that merry troupe, Laurie Rae Waugh, has been a major interpreter of Crafford’s works over the years – directing and thus winning awards for the work. This time around she is a member of huis cast.
Now, the American Theatre of Actors will present two dynamic works by this controversial author and influencer: Moves and Countermoves: New Works by James Crafford. Performances are January 22 – February 2, 2020 (Wednesday – Saturday @ 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m.) in The B.E.T. (Beckmann Experimental Theatre) of the American Theatre of Actors Complex, 314 W 54th St, New York City; (212) 581-3044 for tickets.
The Chaos Effect doesn’t need a butterfly or the span of the universe. It can be two people and the right – or wrong – words said at the right – or wrong – time. Michael Bordwell will serve as director and interpreter of these two new works by a political firebrand and unapologetic author.
“The Game Is Not Over” explores the relationship between a man and the two women in his life – his wife and his former lover. A simple living room becomes a battlefield as the wife confronts the former lover.
“After the Hanging” explores the aftermath of a racist hanging of an African-American man in the deep south. The aforementioned man’s wife confronts one of the witnesses to the lynching.
The plays feature a repertory company of seasoned professionals familiar with Mr. Crafford’s work and the landmark American Theatre of Actors: Alan Hasnas, Thomas J Kane, Tzena Nicole, Valerie O’Hara, and Meredith Rust; with a special appearance by stage and film actor/director Laurie Rae Waugh in “After The Hanging.”
Crafford – having started as an actor – makes sure that his cast are well fed – with dialogue. “My goal in writing plays is to offer juicy parts for ALL the actors involved,” he said.
A question recently asked of Granville Burgess due to his Lincoln/Douglass musical, Common Ground, has been asked of Crawford as well. “What’s an old white guy doing writing a play like After the Hanging?”
“[the play] banged around in my head for years after having read a short story by Erskine Caldwell called SATURDAY AFTERNOON that tells the story of a whimsical lynching that left me devastated,” he explained; “I recall throwing the book across the room in a fit of despair.” The book was surely his gauntlet if you know Mr. Crafford. Never backing down from a fight – which is evident due to his recent battles with Cancer and President trump (not sure which was worse) Crafford began creating this powerful play.
As “Rick” in his play VIOLENCE
(winner, Jean Dalrymple Award, presented at Sardis)
“I am deeply grateful to ATA for featuring my work and giving me the opportunity to grow as a writer, director and actor. I also hope that audiences will recognize current parallels in AFTER THE HANGING even though it takes place in 1927,” Crafford concluded.
As he alluded to a “glut of one acts” he is ready to have produced, we should prick-up-our-ears for more battlecrys with his by-line.