From Michael Howley's blog www.theatremontgomery.blospot.com:
Monday, March 15, 2010
After two years in development through the Southern Writers' Project, Richard Aellen's provocative play "Nobody" is being given its World Premier in the Octagon Theatre at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. A nearly full house rose to its feet at the conclusion of Sunday's opening performance. Spilling out into the lobby for a reception, conversations were intense and candid as the audience grappled with the play's themes and challenges...just one of the things that makes live theatre exciting and important.
Set in the late 19th and early part of the 20th Century, "Nobody" traces the lives of two actual African-American vaudevillians, out of work and almost out of hope. Bert Williams [James Bowen] and George Walker [Sean Blake] meet in San Francisco and decide to team up and make their mark in the business. Williams is introspective and wants a career as a "serious" actor, playing Shakespearean roles; Walker is a ladies man and more brash, intending to make a lot of money by dazzling audiences with his quick wit. Neither is quite ready for the reality that faces them: they will only be considered for playing the stereotypical and degrading "Coon" roles; that is, until they decide to play in minstrel shows in burnt-cork Blackface, billing themselves as "Two Real Coons," a choice that leaves few alternatives from then on.
Pictured above left: James Bowen as Bert Williams. Right: James Bowen as Bert Williams, Erika LaVonn as Lottie Williams, Sean Blake as George Walker and Angela K. Thomas as Ada Overton Walker.