ArtsWest Adapts a Dated Melodrama For the Times

"An Octoroon" will have a first look show on April 3 and then will run from April 19 to May 13.
From left to right: Actors Mike Dooly, Lamar Legend and Jose Abaoag each play three roles in ArtsWest’s "An Octoroon"

This article appears in print in the April 2018 issueClick here to subscribe.

If the weirdly antique terminology of An Octoroon gives you pause—it refers to a person who is one-eighth black—that’s because this is a contemporary deconstruction of Dion Boucicault’s melodrama The Octoroon, which packed ’em in in Dickens’ day.

Through copious use of fourth-wall breakage and white-, red- and blackface, this Obie award-winning 2014 play from rising New York-based playwright Branden Jacobs-Jenkins has concocted a provocative theatrical experience that uses the form’s conventions to comment on racial issues.

Piloted by a cast and crew of Seattle’s own ascending theater stars, including director Brandon J. Simmons, set designer Julia Welch and lighting designer Matthew Webb, it’s another show in ArtsWest’s season-long exploration of outsiders.

Times and prices vary. ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery, West Seattle, 4711 California Ave. SW; 206.938.0963.


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