Cast and Creative Team Set for Arena Stage's World Premiere of Tempestuous Elements | Playbill

Regional News Cast and Creative Team Set for Arena Stage's World Premiere of Tempestuous Elements

Kia Corthron's new play explores the trailblazing career of Black feminist Anna Julia Cooper.

Kia Corthron LavignySophie Kandaouroff

Washington, D.C.'s Arena Stage has announced the cast and creative team for the world premiere of Kia Corthron's Tempestuous Elements. The production will run at the Mead Center for American Theater's Fichandler Stage February 16-March 17, 2024. 

Tempestuous Elements explores the trailblazing career of Black feminist Anna Julia Cooper, who served as principal of D.C.'s historic M Street School at the turn of the 20th century. While facing sabotage attempts from colleagues and neighbors, Cooper fights for her students' right to an advanced curriculum and greater education equity. Psalmayene 24 will direct.

The cast features Kelly Renee Armstrong (Our War), Peter Boyer (Holiday), Renea S. Brown (Change Agent) Gina Daniels (Roe), Jasmine Joy (POTUS), Paul Morella (All My Sons), Kevin E. Thorne II (Seven Guitars), Renee Elizabeth Wilson (Seven Guitars), Joel Ashur (Confederates), Ro Boddie (The Mountaintop), Jonathan Del Palmer (The Winter’s Tale), Brittney Dubose (The Window King), Yetunde Felix-Ukwu (Nollywood Dreams), Lolita Marie (The Brothers Paranormal), and Monique Paige (Breath, Boom).

“I was researching my play Fish, about the contemporary public school system, when I came across legendary writer/activist/speaker and primarily educator Anna Julia Cooper,” Corthron says. “She was born in Raleigh, North Carolina, and lived to be 105, so had a long career. I was especially interested in her tenure as principal/teacher at D.C.’s renowned M Street School in the years around the turn of the twentieth century. So, when Arena Stage offered me a commission for a new play (the subject matter was up to me), I was eager to explore this Washington treasure.”

The creative team includes set designer Tony Cisek, costume designer LeVonne Lindsay, lighting designer William K. D’Eugenio, hair and wig designer LaShawn Melton, choreographer and associate director Tony Thomas, dialect and vocal coach Lisa Nathans, text director Anita Maynard-Losh, dramaturg Otis Ramsey-Zöe, casting director Joseph Pinzon, stage manager Christi B. Spann, and assistant stage manager Jalon Payton. The production also features original music and sound design by Lindsay Jones.

Tempestuous Elements is presented as part of Arena Stage's Power Play Initiative, which commissions original works on politics and power in American history. The initiative focuses particularly on works which emphasize presidential, African American, and/or female voices; musicals that celebrate political ideas and events; or plays that present an exclusive perspective on the complex workings of American institutions or cultures. 


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