Peter and Annie, a childless Caucasian couple in the process of adopting a baby from Africa, get some surprising news that threatens to tear their world apart when they get The Call.
Tanya Barfield's theatrical examination of the ramifications of cross-cultural adoption opens this week at Little Rock's Arkansas Repertory Theatre.
7 p.m. Wednesday-Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday, 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday through Feb. 11, Arkansas Repertory Theatre, 601 Main St., Little Rock. Tanya Barfield’s examination of the ramifications of cross-cultural adoption. Directed by Gilbert McCauley. Previews 7 p.m. Wednesday (“Pay What You Can” Night)-Thursday. Friday post-opening-night champagne reception. “Pay Your Age” Night: 7 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets: $48 and $38; $20 students in advance, $15 student rush (day of performance)
"They've been trying to get pregnant, biologically and by in-vitro fertilization," explains Benjamin Bauman, who plays Peter (Chiara B. Motley plays Annie), "and then they start a process of adoption."
Among the options: adopting a baby of a different race from a different place. The cross-racial overtones, Bauman says, are "part of the meal of the play, but not the entire seven courses."
The news they receive, says director Gilbert McCauley, "makes them unsure about whether to complete the process. They're a couple at a crossroads in their relationship, and this makes it more complicated."
The play "shines a light" on the issues of cross-cultural and international adoption, he adds, "and forces the characters to wrestle with them."
The couple get advice of a sort from friends and neighbors -- Alemu (Nathan Hinton), a gentleman of African origin who lives upstairs in the same building, and partners Drea (Soara-Joye Ross, returning to the Rep after playing lead Deloris Van Cartier in last season's Sister Act) and Rebecca (Crystal Sha'nae).
Hinton says his role is to provide the "immigrant's perspective" on the situation through, as is the African tradition, storytelling. "He's a broker of truth. He uses a parable in a heartfelt, expressive manner" to bring his message home.
McCauley describes the use of the neighbor as a writing device for Barfield: "the outsider who does add [something] to the mix that you wouldn't get if not from the outside." The character, McCauley adds, also "keeps the show from getting heavy." Just as in real life, he says, "there are things [in this play] that make us laugh."
"It's an easy show to watch," Bauman says. "And people are going to want to see it again. There are issues that only hit afterwards, the way the language is written."
The name of the play comes from the language of adoption, notes Allyson Pittman Gattin, the Rep's marketing director -- prospective parents waiting for "the call" that informs them there is a child available, sometimes immediately, "so come right now." It's also the name of an Arkansas faith-based organization that focuses on foster care and adoption.
Moreover, Gattin notes, three of the five cast members have their own adoption stories, and so do two Rep staff members who participated in during-rehearsal meet-and-greet sessions with patrons.
"You don't think about how an adoption affects so many people," says Bauman, who had two different aunts and uncles adopt two children each.
McCauley has two children of his own, plus two stepsons and a stepdaughter, though "I never used that term," he says.
Now helming his ninth play at the Repertory Theatre (starting in 2003 with The Piano Lesson, followed by Fences, Looking Over the President's Shoulder, A Soldier's Play, Frost/Nixon, Gee's Bend, The Whipping Man and Jar the Floor), McCauley says he chose to direct this work only after being approached by the Rep's producing artistic director, John Miller-Stephany.
"I didn't fall in love with it right away," he admits. "Over time I did find myself being pulled into it."
The production will feature a set by resident designer Mike Nichols. Costumes are by Holly Payne.
Among the ancillary events the Rep is sponsoring in connection with the production is a panel discussion on international and interracial adoptions, 5:30-6:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Rep Annex, 518 Main St., Little Rock. John A. Kirk, director of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock's Anderson Institute on Race and Ethnicity, will moderate.
Style on 01/23/2018
Print Headline: Answering The Call: Rep drama deals with interracial, cross-cultural adoption