Michelle Tyrene Johnson’s THE GREEN BOOK WINE CLUB TRAIN TRIP, winner of Olathe Civic Theatre Association’s inaugural New Works Playwright Competition, will receive a two night “Winner Workshop” performance July 7 and 8.
According to the press release, THE GREEN BOOK WINE CLUB TRAIN TRIP focuses on five contemporary black women who take a weekend train trip as part of the book and wine club they are in together. Marie, a librarian, in addition to arranging the trip, is also conducting family research which involves looking through “The Negro Motorist Green Book”, the guidebook used by African-Americans in pre-segregation America to know the safe and welcoming places to stay and patronize while traveling. Marie accidentally time travels to the 1940s, where she stays in a boarding house mentioned in the book. She discovers family secrets and gets an up-close view of how the present and the past compare, contrast, and converge.
Johnson, who has worked on this story for over a year and a half, says “winning the competition is an invigorating acknowledgment of local support for my work.”
The staged reading, directed by Teresa Leggard, features Marica Davis (Marie), Rasheedat “Ras” Badejo (Saige/Lucy), Lanette King (Alicia/Cotton Blue), Amber McKinnon (Toni/Henrietta), Aisha Ogbeh (Lynn/Bertha), and Earl McWilliams (Stage Directions/Male Voices). Alexa Cioffi is the reading’s technician.
When asked what drew her personally to the play, Leggard says “the variety of black female voices … we’ve got a diversity of black womanhood, across age, class, orientation, generation – literally across time.”
Johnson and Leggard first worked together on a project during their time at UMKC and continue to collaborate on projects in Kansas City. Regarding this script, they’re “pretty tickled at how ‘The Negro Motorist Green Book’ seems to be emerging in the zeitgeist right now. From Huffington Post to CBS News to The New York Times. It’s nice being ahead of that curve.”
“We’re thrilled to see the final stage of this competition,” says New Works Playwright Competition organizer Andrew Joseph Brown. “It’s something we’ve been working on for over a year now and we hope audiences will be just as thrilled to see this brand new story on the OCTA stage.”
THE GREEN BOOK WINE CLUB TRAIN TRIP runs July 7 and 8. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit olathetheatre.org