Broom Street Theater and Knowledge Workings tonight release a new play that “explores how a shocking ancestral connection revealed during the recording of a reality podcast prompts a series of surprising negotiations and unforeseen antics among its attendees.”
“Genealogy,” written by Joe Queenan and TJ Elliott, is a comedy repair drama that plays Friday through Sunday at the Broom Street Theater and runs through November 21.
“Essentially, these are two families that are at the heart of this conversation because of some personal relationships,” Dana Pellebon, co-producer and director of “Genealogy” told Madison365.
In “Genealogy,” according to a Broom Street press release, the host of “Chasing the Dead” is Glenn Weber (Jackson Rosenberry), a former “influencer” and former MTV emcee who tries to refine his guests – two high profile, heterosexual married couples, a black and a white – while battling the demands of invisible supervisors in the control room.
Quanda Johnson plays professor and activist Aaliyah Levin-Wilson in “Geneology”.
“I am intrigued by the subject of ‘Genealogy’ and by the relationships and the ability to present on stage a black couple working against stereotypes on many levels and presenting a subject that should be at the forefront of everyone’s consciousness. right now – this idea of repairing and giving people what they deserve, “Johnson told Madison365.” This is essential in the social calculation that we have in the country over the past year and a half.
“It really feels good to be in this conversation in a comedic way – which is difficult. It’s not a conversation that you think pairs well with humor. It’s very intriguing and I’m very excited to be a part of it, ”she adds.
Johnson and Atticus Cain play an African-American couple who meet housewife and former prosecutor, ‘Muggs’ Moriarty Hunt (Jamie England) and her husband, Hamilton Hunt (Donavan Armbruster), a prominent lawyer whose presumably illustrious family tree is under review. A power struggle ensues and individual allegiances seem to influence and change the guilt for the legacy of slavery and the reparations debate.
“The character I play strangely resembles me, which is not easy for an actor. In fact, it’s easier to play a character that looks nothing like you. So that intrigued me. There was also the language challenge which is not my way of speaking at all, ”says Johnson. “So this character is like me but speaks in a very different way than me – it’s a razor’s edge to have to walk.”
Cain, an actor, writer and filmmaker living in New York City, plays Mosiah Wilson, a former professional football player and wife of Johnson’s Professor Levin-Wilson.
“My character and I share one thing in common. I grew up in Kalamazoo, Michigan with my grandparents and my grandmother was very, very strict and energetic in education, reading, investing in yourself and working twice as hard to be intellectually astute, ”Cain told Madison365. “So here you have a contradiction of a football player who also graduated in philosophy from Yale and all that that means when it comes to himself and what that means when it comes to his identity in the black community.
“It creates some conflict with the black community as a whole because he is accused of“ speaking white. ”I don’t know where this came from as there is a long tradition in the African American community focused on it. education, “he adds.” I don’t know where it came from and how it was used to create that corner in us, but it does. And I can feel it in the character and me. identifying with that… that’s one of the reasons the role is so intriguing.
Pellebon, who has performed, directed, written and produced for a variety of community and professional theater groups in the Madison area over the past two decades, says she really enjoys relationships in “Genealogy.”
“One of the things that I love about the show is the portrayal of marriage. So we have two couples and the four actors who portray these married couples who have really forged a relationship that feels very real. It’s very collective.” , says Pellebon. “Just like in ordinary marriage, there are arguments that come and go and we can say that there are points of tension between each couple, but we can say that there is this incredible love. between each of them which is really so pleasant to live in. to be able to lead and represent.
“With the couple Atticus and Quanda are playing one of the things they do is call each other ‘friend’ and when I first read that I was like ‘Why would you do that ? ‘ But now, 7 or 8 months since I first read the show, I literally call everyone ‘friend’, Pellebon adds. “It’s endearing and familiar, but not too much … it’s become. part of my language, and the way they use that with each other is really what i want to be when i talk to people.
There are moments in “Geneology” between the main characters, Pellebon adds, that are “beautiful and poignant without even necessarily having words.”
“I really like it about this show,” she says.
“Genealogy” is a comedy, but it’s also a dramatic story that deals with history, trauma, white supremacy and the way forward. Most importantly, he deepens the repairs.
“It’s funny because, for me, my perspective on it has changed. I got involved with a friend of mine who works in this social justice organization and is currently working on his doctorate. in African-American History and Sociology. We talked about the topic of repair, ”Cain says. “My own feelings are tied to Mosiah, without spoiling the room too much. There has been some conflict because I don’t like the idea of putting a price on black people or their suffering.
“But at the same time, as Quanda says, there is a price to pay. There is a certain type of calculation that must be recognized, ”he adds. “The country didn’t have that. We did not recognize him. America has never done that.
“We have never received a formal apology from the government for half a millennium of slavery,” Johnson said. “A little something here and there, but nothing official that says, ‘It was done. And it was a horror. And there is a residue of that … and we’re sorry.
Pellebon says that one of the things she likes about “Genealogy” is that it doesn’t come on any side.
“It’s important. It’s one of the things I felt while reading – I went back and forth between the character of Quanda and that of Atticus. There is a complicated feeling about black people. and what I really like is that it doesn’t treat us like a monolith, “she says.” It allows us to have our own separate emotions and even if we don’t agree, we are. always there for our partner. It’s so important in this script. The portrayal of black love has been so one-dimensional and very dependent, often, on women submitting to men. It doesn’t do that. And it is. so refreshing to be a part of it.
Pellebon hopes that people will move away from “Genealogy” by talking about the topics presented in the play, reflecting, debating and asking more questions themselves.
“If people don’t leave ‘genealogy’ asking and thinking about it, we haven’t done our job,” she says. “There has to be some kind of consideration and weighing of what’s in the balance because of these times we’re alive.”
“Genealogy” takes place over three consecutive weekends: November 5, 6; November 11-13; November 18-20. Performances begin at 8 p.m. Tickets cost $ 22 online or Pay What You Can at the Door. Tickets are available here. For more information, visit www.knowledgeworkings.com or https://bstonline.org