Fund for New American Plays

The Darker Face of the Earth

Crossroads Theatre Company, New Brunswick, NJ

Rita Dove's extraordinary first play, The Darker Face of the Earth, is a beautiful poem-play based on Sophocles' Greek tragedy King Oedipus. The action is set on a Southern plantation during the slavery era, where Amalia, the plantation owner's wife, gives birth to a child of color. As in the original myth, the baby, Augustus, is ordered to be killed, but grows up instead and, like Oedipus, returns to the place of his birth to face the realities of slavery and an inexplicable fascination with the mistress of the plantation. A slave uprising brings Augustus, the leader of the revolution, face to face with his identity. Using a Greek chorus with African rhythms, the play unfolds inexorably, relating the story of the man who kills his father, loves his mother, and weaves his political and personal tragedy on the loom of fate.

Rita Dove, U.S. Poet Laureate and Commonwealth Professor of English at the University of Virginia, was born in Akron, Ohio, in 1952. She has published five books of poetry, among them Thomas and Beulah, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. She is also the author of a novel, Through the Ivory Gate, as well as a collection of short stories. The Darker Face of the Earth is her first full-length play. Dove's honors include Fulbright and Guggenheim Fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Mellon Foundation. She was chosen by Robert Penn Warren for the Academy of American Poet's Lavan Award, has received a General Electric Foundation award, several honorary doctorates and the Literary Lion citation from the New York Public Library. In 1993 Dove was appointed Poet Laureate by the Librarian of Congress, received the NAACP Award, and was named by Glamour magazine one of the ten "Women of the Year." The Darker Face of the Earth is being co-produced with the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Director: Ricardo Khan
Set Designer: Richard L. Hay
Lighting Designer: James Sale
Costume Designer: Karen Lim
Composer: Olu Dara
Choreography: Dianne McIntyre
Running Dates: October 4-November 2, 1997

Return to Kennedy Center Fund for New American Plays Home Page