The Alliance Theatre announced details today of its upcoming staging of NATIVE GUARD, the Pulitzer Prize-winning collection of poetry by former U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey. In NATIVE GUARD, Trethewey examines national memorials to the Civil War, how we remember history and who tells its story, and how that passed-on history affects our beliefs today. Directed by Alliance Artistic Director Susan V. Booth, NATIVE GUARD expands the traditional definition of theatre while exploring themes of history, identity, memory, and loss. During the Alliance’s season-long renovation, NATIVE GUARD will be staged at the Atlanta History Center just steps away from its extraordinary collection of Civil War artifacts, January 13 – February 4, 2018. Opening Night is Wednesday, January 17, 2018.
First adapted for the stage by the Alliance in 2014 to sold-out audiences, NATIVE GUARD was described as “an invigorating theatrical experience” and “thought-provoking” by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and as “a harrowing, beautiful and elegiac journey” by Atlanta INtown.
“Natasha Tretheway’s breathtaking NATIVE GUARD has become even more relevant today than when the Alliance premiered it four years ago,” said Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director. “Questions of how we remember and memorialize our national history have moved from the classroom to the street, from textbook to headline. As part of the Alliance’s season on the road, audiences will have the extraordinary opportunity to see NATIVE GUARD staged in the surroundings of the Atlanta History Center’s Civil War Collection, bringing past and present together in a startling and powerful way.”
“The Atlanta History Center believes deeply that everyone has a story to tell, and that history belongs to everyone. So we saw a natural match when asked to partner with the Alliance Theatre in staging Natasha Trethewey’s NATIVE GUARD inside our Museum,” said Sheffield Hale, President & CEO, Atlanta History Center. “In combining the Civil War story of the Louisiana Native Guards, one of the Union’s first official black units, with her own story of growing up as the daughter of a then-illegal mixed-race marriage in 1960s Mississippi, Natasha wove a new narrative that brought the past alive in the present. We strive to do that every day at the Atlanta History Center. We hope the experience of combining Trethewey’s work and the talent of the actors in NATIVE GUARD with the powerful objects and stories in our Turning Point: The American Civil War exhibition will connect audiences with history in a vital new way.”
The Alliance’s production of NATIVE GUARD blends various art forms to fully engage audiences – from a visual installation and projections to music and performance elements that allow the audience to interact and tell their own stories. In the second act of NATIVE GUARD, audience members will be invited to participate in a discussion about the play they have just experienced in a diverse and welcoming setting. Each night will be hosted by a different community leader who will begin by sharing his or her thoughts on the work before inviting others to the discussion. Hosts include Sheffield Hale (President & CEO, Atlanta History Center); Dr. Paul Wolpe (Director, Emory Center for Ethics); Pellom McDaniels III (Curator, African American Collections, Rose Library); Doug Hooker (Executive Director, Atlanta Regional Commission); Doug Shipman (President and CEO, Woodruff Arts Center); Jamil Zainaldin (President, Georgia Humanities Council); Pearl Amelia McHaney (Professor of Southern Literature, Georgia State University); and more.
NATIVE GUARD will feature all the actors from the original production – Thomas Neal Antwon Ghant (Alliance: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest; A Christmas Carol) as The Native Guard; January LaVoy (Alliance: What I Learned in Paris) as The Poet; vocalist Nicole Banks Long (Alliance: Jesus Christ Superstar Gospel) and composer/music director Tyrone Jackson.
The creative team includes scenic designer/installation artist Anne Patterson (Graced With Light, 2013), Costume Designer Leslie M. Taylor (Georgia Shakespeare: The Tempest), Media Designer Adam Larsen (Alliance: Ghost Brothers of Darkland County), Sound Designer Clay Benning (Alliance Theatre: Troubadour), and Lighting Designer Ken Yunker (Alliance: Shakespeare in Love).
Performances of NATIVE GUARD are:
Tuesday through Thursday at 7:30 pm
Fridays at 8:00 pm
Saturdays at 2:30 pm and 8:00 pm
Sundays at 2:30 pm and 7:30 pm
The Atlanta History Center, Nicholson Gallery
130 West Paces Ferry Road NW, Atlanta, GA 30305 (Free parking is available in the parking deck on site).
Again, the run dates are January 13 – February 4, 2018. There will be no 2:30 pm performance on Jan. 13 and no 7:30 pm performance on Feb. 4.
Special matinee performances for students and school field trips will take place daily Tuesday – Friday, January 25 – February 2 at 10:30 am, meeting curriculum standards: ELAGSE9-10RL4, ELAGSE9-10SL1, SSUSH8, SSUSH9. Recommended for grades 7+. For ticket information, contact email@example.com or call 404.733.4661.
Tickets start at $20 and are available at the Woodruff Arts Center Box Office in person or by calling 404.733.5000. Tickets are available online at www.alliancetheare.org/nativeguard. Tickets are also available for purchase at Atlanta History Center one hour before each performance.
*Photos by Greg Mooney