Langston & Nicolas by Bernardo Solano explores the extraordinary friendship between literary figures Langston Hughes (1902-1967), the originator of jazz poetry, and Nicolas Guillen (1902-1989), the poet laureate of Cuba. The world premiere production is now performing at Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood.
Conceived and directed by Nancy Cheryll Davis the cast includes in alphabetical order, Justin Alston, Garry Bates Jr., Ulf Bjorlin, Claudia Blair, Brian Evarett Chandler, Dane Diamond, Gabriela Delgado-Deluy, Johnny Gallegos, Kyle Hamilton, Ana Maria Lagasca, Leslie La’Raine, Tene Carter Miller, Armando Ortega, Maggie Palomo, Chris Rivas, Carlos San Miguel and Karl Steudel.
Commissioned by Towne Street Theatre and Robey Theatre Company Langston & Nicolas is a Towne Street Theatre production produced by Nancy Cheryll Davis, Nancy Renee, and Nathaniel Bellamy. Choreography is by Nancy Renee with musical direction by Dane Diamond.
“Much as Hughes’ poetry was associated with the jazz musical form, Guillen’s poetry was influenced by the Cuban musical idiom called Son. Both poets were of mixed racial heritage. Hughes included in his background African, Native American Scottish and Hebrew forebears, but he identified himself as a Negro (the politically correct term of the period) and lived most of his life in Harlem, also correctly identifying himself at the vanguard of the Harlem Renaissance. Guillen was a Cuban mestizo, part Black, part white, part Taino Indian., and identified himself as Afro-Cuban. Both were descendants of slaves.”
They met in the 1930s, when Langston came to Cuba in search of a composer for a folk opera libretto. The two became devoted friends, forming a bond that spanned three decades. In 1937, they traveled to Spain to observe the oppression of the workers under Generalissimo Francisco Franco. The impact of war and a precariously close brush with death with bombs exploding around them was a turning point for them.
Langston & Nicolas performs 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday through May 2. Tickets are $25 general admission, $15 seniors and members of performing arts unions $15 and $10 students. Call 213-624-4796 or visit www.townestreet.org.
Stella Adler Theatre is located at 6773 Hollywood Blvd., 2nd floor in Hollywood. Parking is available across the street in the Hollywood/Highland Center, $2 for 4 hours with Stella Adler validation.
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Photos by Carlos San Miguel—(top right, from left) Justin Alston and Brian Evaret Chandler; (left, from left) Tene Carter Miller and Leslie La’Raine.
For more information: www.townestreet.org