SARASOTA, FL – As part of its New Playwrights Series, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is proud to present “Motherless,” which was nominated for “Best Production” at the New York Theatre Festival this past summer. The show, with performances followed by talkbacks with the creative team, takes place Saturday, October 14 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, October 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the Howard J. Millman Blackbox Theatre at WBTT (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota).
“Motherless,” which was written by Cherise Kimoy James, is a play about grief, healing, and love. After their mother’s passing, four women take a step into vulnerability and arrive at an honest moment in their lives where it forces them to not only see their truth but also to speak it. Some for the first time. Through laughter and bright storytelling, this play is for anyone who has lost someone important to them and courageously lives on.
“Motherless” features WBTT fan favorite Ariel Blue, who recently won the Best Actress award at the New York Theatre Festival, and Alicia Marie Thomas, who was also nominated for her multiple roles in the show. Blue played the roles of both 17-year-old Shaunte and 70-year-old Bernice, and Thomas played 7-year-old Brooklyn and 27-year-old Cherri, who all offer different perspectives on their experiences with grief.
The play was inspired by playwright James’ own experience with the passing of her mother. The director for the Sarasota performances is Erica Sutherlin.
James is originally from Miami, Fla. She trained in magnet programs for the Arts (Miami Norland and Miami Northwestern PAVAC), received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting from the University of Central Florida, then performed professionally regionally in musicals, plays, original works and readings – including performing on WBTT’s stage in “Broadway in Black” and Rockin’ Down Fairytale Lane” – as well as pursued TV and film opportunities, working with networks like Netflix and OWN. After being in rooms with such creative minds, that love for playwriting became a seed that was planted in her and that she watered during the pandemic through her creation of “Motherless.” James is currently studying in NYU’s Tisch Dramatic Writing MFA program, where she is creating more inspiring works.
Ariel Blue is a well-known member of WBTT whose stage credits include “Flyin’ West,” “Sistas in the Name of Soul,” “Little Shop of Horrors,” “Dreamgirls,” “ The Wiz,” “A Motown Christmas” and “The Amen Corner.” She performs with the Florida Studio Theatre Improv, has produced two of her own one-woman shows, has performed with WBTT in several productions featured at The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., and has sung behind legends like Christopher Williams. She is a graduate of Stetson University, with a major in Communications and a minor in Theatre.
Alicia Marie Thomas is a Detroit, Mich. native. She recently sang at The Green Room 42 with Laurént Grant Williams. She has numerous regional theatre credits, including “The Colored Museum” and “The Producers” (American Stage), “Dreamgirls” (Mill Mountain Theatre), “A Lion in Winter” and “Crumbs from the Table of Joy” (freeFall Theatre), “A Raisin in the Sun” (The Barn) and “Raisin” (Astoria Performing Arts Center) as well as Off-Broadway credits for “Heist!” and “National Tour: Junie B. Jones.”
“The New Playwrights Series fits beautifully into our mission of supporting and developing Black artists so that their voices can be heard,” said WBTT Founder and Artistic Director Nate Jacobs. “This program offers emerging minority playwrights the opportunity to present their works as well as to give community members a view from the unique perspectives of these developing artists, and expose them to the issues that matter in their lives.”
The show’s runtime is 45 minutes. Tickets are $27 (including fees); visit westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe
The mission of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates African American history and experience, engages a broad base of patrons and audiences, supports the development of a dynamic group of aspiring artists, and builds self-esteem in youth of color. Visit westcoastblacktheatre.org for more information.