You might not recognize her name, Danai Gurira, but if you saw the film “The Visitor” this year, which made many critics’ top ten films list, you’ll recognize her as the actress who played the African woman who was staying in lead actor Richard Jenkin’s New York apartment. McCarter Theater’s third annual In-Festival, a celebration of new works, running from Monday, January 26, to Sunday, February 8, features “Eclipsed,” written by Gurira and directed by Liesl Tommy.
Gurira emerged explosively on the theatrical scene with “In the Continuum,” her Obie Award-winning piece on women and AIDS, which she created and performed with Nikkole Salter. According to a press statement “Eclipsed” offers “a compelling portrait of transformation and renewal. Emotionally and geographically displaced by the trauma of civil war, five Liberian women scavenge for the memories and allegiances that will allow them to cross the threshold into a new Liberia. Eclipsed unearths the wreckage of war and celebrates — with wit and compassion, and defiance — the women who navigate and survive the most hostile of circumstances.”
Gurira first introduced excerpts of “Eclipsed” to McCarter in 2007, followed by a public reading of the work during the 2008 In-Festival. In researching the play, Gurira traveled to Liberia through a TCG New Generations Grant, which she applied for with McCarter.
The In-Festival also features a number of free readings including “Wild Nights! Two One-Act Plays” by the celebrated novelist, playwright, and Princeton professor Joyce Carol Oates, on Monday, January 26. (Contains mature themes). In the first play, “Wild Nights,” an older couple, lonely and unsatisfied with their lives, buys an android replica of Emily Dickinson, hoping to find inspiration. The second, “Grandpa Clemens & Angelfish 1906,” is an imagined scenario based on historical material about Mark Twain, who, near the end of his life, sought company from a group of young schoolgirls he called his “angelfish.”
Other events include In Their Own Voices, an evening of award-winning writers and composers reading and performing excerpts from their own works-in-progress, in McCarter’s rehearsal room on Monday, February 2.
Tarell Alvin McCraney’s “The Brothers Size,” which will be presented on McCarter’s mainstage this spring as part of the trilogy “The Brother/Sister Plays,” started at McCarter’s In-Festival.
Eclipsed, McCarter Theater at Berlind’s Rehearsal Room, 91 University Place. Thursday, January 29, through Sunday, February 8. Danai Gurira’s drama set in war-torn Liberia. $15; $5 students. 609-258-2787 or www.mccarter.org. Eclipsed contains adult language and mature themes.