IRT produces gripping world premiere of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings
INclusion Series show explores history, identity, hard truths, and the ties that bind
Indianapolis, Ind.— This spring, the Indiana Repertory Theatre will share with audiences the world premiere of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings written by Charles Smith. A story steeped in the struggle of historical representation, the play gives voice to untold narratives hidden by the racial power dynamics of slavery. This season’s first production of the INclusion Series, which celebrates diverse storytelling, will be live on the OneAmerica Mainstage March 23 – April 16 and available for streaming online April 11 – 24.
The Reclamation of Madison Hemings takes place shortly after the Civil War has ended and follows Madison Hemings, the son of enslaved woman Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson, as he returns to Monticello with formerly enslaved footman, Israel Jefferson. Now in ruins, Monticello brings up the haunting, complicated, and conflicting perspectives and memories from the two men: one struggling with anger and resentment toward his biological father and mother, and one whose memories lean more toward the recollection of the warmth and belonging of family, even in the time of bondage.
“We chose this play because of our strong relationship with Charles Smith and because the subject matter is particularly compelling, revealing a historic moment that is rarely dramatized,” said Janet Allen, IRT’s Margot Lacy Eccles Artistic Director. It causes us to reflect, not only on the new insights themselves, but also on the fact that history is too often only seen through the experiences of those with the most power.”
The influence of the past, the need to tell stories from different perspectives, and the drive to honor our ancestors helped inspire Charles Smith to write this compelling play in which he works to shed light on individuals who have largely disappeared from history–in this case the history of Monticello.
“After visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington D.C., the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery, Alabama, and the Whitney Plantation (museum) in Louisiana, I became fascinated by how the mere listing of names had the power to paint a vivid picture of the past, while keeping the past present and vital,” said Smith. “For several years, I wondered if there was a theatrical equivalent to what these memorials were doing. When I started researching The Reclamation of Madison Hemings and came across the names of hundreds of enslaved people who lived and died at Monticello, I realized that this was my chance to find out.”
Directed by Ron OJ Parson, this gripping world premiere about the past, identity, and hard truths will star long-time IRT actor David Alan Anderson as Israel Jefferson and Brian Anthony Wilson as Madison Hemings. There will be multiple post-show discussions throughout the run to help enhance the reflection and conversation about this important piece of theatre and the supporting history.
“It’s a play that deserves to be seen by everyone—particularly people who care about how the past affects us all, how families define us, how legacy matters. We hope it will bring a lot of people to the Theatre for a deep, emotional experience and the opportunity to not only talk about this play to family and friends but also participate in our community conversations,” said Allen.
In-person and virtual tickets are on sale now and start at $25. For information regarding ticketing, the full creative team, special performances, and related materials, visit IRTlive.com.
HEALTH & SAFETY GUIDELINES
IRT’s focus on artistry is also matched by its focus on safety, and entry to the IRT will require a mask and photo ID, as well as proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test (administered no more than 72 hours prior to the performance). This vaccine and mask requirement will also apply to IRT artists (except when performing), staff, and volunteer ushers. Please visit irtlive.com/faq for the full information regarding IRT’s health and safety policies.
WHERE: Indiana Repertory Theatre, 140 W. Washington Street, OneAmerica Mainstage. Streaming online via irtlivevirtual.com.
RUN DATES: Live in-person March 23 – April 16, 2022, various times. Streaming April 11 – 24, 2022.
The Reclamation of Madison Hemings is approximately 2 hours, including a 15-minute intermission. Tickets and performance schedule are available at IRTlive.com.
TICKETS: Tickets for live performances start at $25. Click to buy. Virtual tickets are $30. Click to buy.
CAST & CREATIVE TEAM:
DAVID ALAN ANDERSON | Israel Jefferson
BRIAN ANTHONY WILSON | Madison Hemings
CHARLES SMITH | Playwright
RON OJ PARSON | Director
SHAUN MOTLEY | Scenic Designer
DANA REBECCA WOODS | Costume Designer
JARED GOODING | Lighting Designer
CHRISTOPHER KRIZ | Composer & Sound Designer
MIKE TUTAJ | Projections Designer
ANSLEY VALENTINE | Assistant to the Director
TANYA PALMER | Consulting Dramaturg
RICHARD J ROBERTS | Dramaturg
NATHAN GARRISON | Stage Manager
BECKY ROEBER | Assistant Stage Manager
COMMUNITY CONVERSATION SPONSORED BY FAEGRE DRINKER: THE RECLAMATION OF MADISON HEMINGS’ PLAYWRIGHT CHARLES SMITH WITH IRT BOARD MEMBER JULIAN HARRELL
Saturday, March 26, 2022 | Following the 5 PM performance of The Reclamation of Madison Hemings
Please join us for a lively post-show conversation with playwright Charles Smith and Julian Harrell, an attorney at Faegre Drinker who also serves as an IRT Board member and Chair of its Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access Committee, as they discuss the inspiration behind The Reclamation of Madison Hemings.
*More post-show information to come
ABOUT THE IRT
Founded in 1971, the Indiana Repertory Theatre (IRT) is the largest professional not-for-profit theatre in the state and one of the leading regional theatres in the country. The mission of the Indiana Repertory Theatre is to produce top-quality, professional theatre and related activities, providing experiences that will engage, surprise, challenge, and entertain people throughout their lifetimes, helping us build a vital and vibrant community.
Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access (IDEA): The IRT strives to celebrate and serve the diverse people and cultures that make up our whole community. The IRT is committed to providing access for all; to creating and maintaining an antiracist theatre that is inclusive, safe, and respectful.
The IRT produces top-quality, professional theatre that engages, surprises, challenges and entertains people throughout their lifetimes, helping to build a vital and vibrant community.
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