PITTSFIELD, MA Whitney Center for the Arts presents Dael Orlandersmith's powerful one-woman play, Until the Flood. Until the Flood explores the social unrest in Ferguson, Missouri following the shooting of teenager, Michael Brown. Until the Flood runs July 12th through July 21st. The play is directed by the Whit's Artistic Director Monica Bliss who is working with local actor Brittany Nicholson who plays all nine roles.
Brittany Nicholson, who is a full-time Berkshire resident, attended Taconic High School, where she participated in every stage production. Jess Passetto, Taconic Theater Director said that "Brittany has incredible stage presence and connects with the audience in a way that can’t be taught." After graduating from Taconic, Brittany studied theater at Berkshire Community College and then transferred to Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts, where she received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in theater. She has has since performed in over fifteen productions on various Berkshire stages.
Bliss first saw Brittany in Pittsfield’s Shakespeare in the Park's outdoor productions of The Tempest and Twelfth Night, and then again in the Whit's July 2018 production of David Lindsay-Abaire's Fuddy Meers, directed by Patrick Toole. Impressed by Brittany's strong presence and sensational skill as an actor, she invited Brittany to be a cast member in her upcoming fully staged production of The Vagina Monologues. Brittany commanded the stage in the monologue, The Little Coochie Snorcher That Could, emotionally portraying the sexual assault and awaking experienced through different stages of the life of a southern black woman. Earlier this year, Brittany re-enacted this role in the Whit's VDAY event, a fundraiser for the Elizabeth Freeman Center and the VDAY Spotlight Fund for incarcerated and formally incarcerated women. Reviewers called Brittany's performance "devastating" and "delightful".
Wanting to work together again, Bliss asked Brittany if there were any roles or shows in which she had interest. Brittany said she was interested in doing a piece that would benefit the black community. She first suggested "Facing our Truth" in which she previously performed in 2016 at the Colonial Theater which was co-produced by WAM Theater, Multicultural BRIDGE and Berkshire Theatre Group. Facing Our Truth is comprised of six 10-minute plays by Winter Miller, Marcus Gardley, Dominique Morrisseau, Mona Mansour and Tala Manassah, Dan O’Brien with Quetzal Flores, and A. Rey Pamatmat. Inspired by the shooting of Florida teenager Trayvon Martin, Facing our Truth gives racial issues the stage. The Whit is spending this season exploring the solo voice, or one-person show. Bliss found Dael Orlandersmith's Until the Flood, a one-woman drama which, like Facing Our Truth, gives racial issues the stage, this time focusing on the shooting of Ferguson, Missouri teenager Michael Brown.
Bliss said "The Whit is honored to give the voice and work of Dael Orlandersmith the stage". Brittany immediately jumped at the chance to take on the nine roles in Until the Flood which she said "exhibits the struggle the black community faces." The roles include a retired school teacher, a retired police offer, a street kid, a high school teacher, a barber, a high school student, a minister, a poet and a racist. When asked how she felt about playing the role of a racist person, she said "I feel like he is such an important role because he shows how people still are and how racism is spread through generations. His father was like that and now he is the same as his father and is teaching his own son to be the same. If we are going to create any kind of change, it must start at home."
There are six performances of Until the Flood opening this Friday, July 12th and running through July 21st, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm and Sundays at 2pm. The show is 1.5 hours long and there is no intermission. Tickets are $10 to $20 and are available at www.thewhit.org. Those who cannot purchase tickets online may call 413-443-0289 to make a reservation by phone. Located at 42 Wendell Avenue in Downtown Pittsfield, the Whitney Center for the Arts, a presenting and producing arts center, has two world-class art galleries and presents Comedies, Dramas, Musicals, Concerts, Opera Nights, Cabarets plus events for teens and children in an intimate performance venue.