A b&w movie inspired Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage to write her latest work, “By the Way, Meet Vera Stark.” Making its West Coast premiere at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood, the play runs through Oct. 28.
Says Nottage: “I was watching television late one night when I came across a 1930s film called ‘Babyface,’ which featured a very charming and talented young African-American actress named Theresa Harris. When the film ended, I immediately began roaming the Internet in search of more information. …
“I was struck by my own ignorance, not only about Theresa’s prodigious and eclectic career, but also about a whole generation of African-American screen actors who plied their trade in relative obscurity. My unmitigated curiosity … led me to the actress Vera Stark. Indeed, ‘By the Way, Meet Vera Stark’ pays homage to Theresa Harris and other African-American performers who for decades were relegated to the margins of the frame.”
I saw the play on opening night. Though I thought it faltered a bit in the second act, “Vera Stark” is insightful, witty and visually delightful. Sanaa Lathan leads the excellent cast. You can read the LA Times review here.
I will be posting a longer piece based on my interview with Lisa Immordino Vreeland (Diana’s granddaughter-in-law) but wanted to at least note that it is open in some U.S. cities with more to follow. Why don’t you?