Please note the new date of this production. Read more about schedule changes here.
Broadcast and talkback on Saturday, October 17 at 7 p.m. EDT
Ticket link goes live at 7pm. Please note you will not be able to register before 7pm the day of the premiere.
This performance will not have public on-demand viewing after the broadcast.
Two artists with their partners find their lives unexpectedly intertwined with the life of a Black queer feminist writer from the 1960s. This intergenerational portrayal of queer relationships of color challenges our definitions of family, love and the universal act of creation.
This production contains strong language, sexual and mature content, and themes of queer intimacy.
The Amplify, Empower, Illuminate: Four Plays, Many Diverse Voices series is sponsored by
Video Design and Production:
Tim Brown, Rob Siler
Director: Johann Robert Wood
GRIFFIN: Timothy Jones II
TAMI: Christy Clark
STOKES: Mackenley Ria
RILEY: Janiece Deveaux
G.K. MARCHE: Jessica T. Johnson
NATALIE: Anita Whitney Bennett
STAGE READER, RECEPTIONIST, U/S TAMI, U/S RILEY, U/S G.K. MARCHE, U/S NATALIE: Timandra Richardson
U/S GRIFFIN, U/S STOKES: Karlo Buxo-Morales
Assistant Stage Manager: Thomasa Hagney*
Dramaturg: Joni Newman*
Assistant Video Design and Production: Syd Deines*
Assistant Sound Designer/QLab Operator: Greyson Phillips*
*denotes UCF student. All cast members are UCF students.
THEATRE UCF PRODUCTION STAFF, FACULTY, AND ADVISORS
Director of the School of Performing Arts: Michael Wainstein
Artistic Director: Julia Listengarten
Director of Production: Bert Scott
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Huaixiang Tan
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Vandy Wood
Faculty Dramaturg/Advisor: Chloe Edmonson
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Tim Brown
Faculty Designer/Advisor: Rob Siler
Production Manager: Gary Brown
Assistant Technical Director: Shannan Rath
Sound Designer/Advisor: Lindsay Putnam
Master Electrician: Edd Gordon
Costume Shop Manager/Designer/Advisor: Daniel Jones
Costume Shop Floor Supervisor: Robin Ankerich
Faculty Stage Management Advisor: Claudia Lynch
How to Catch Creation is about intergenerational queer relationships that center black lives. Christina Anderson (the playwright) sets this queer drama against a subtle backdrop of civil rights protest and unrest between two time periods, 1966 and 2014. In spite of a history of slavery and incarceration, racial tensions and economic inequalities through real estate containment and gentrification, Black Lives (in this case, Black Queer Lives) continue to thrive. This play challenges our notions of Black Queer creation. We are not just making political statements, protesting and struggling in this way. We are also artists and creatives wrestling with a dynamic exchange of being caught and negotiating agency, being beat, killed, and incarcerated while also creating art, relationships, and family on our own terms.
I chose this play to direct because I wanted to lift up the work of a Black, Queer Woman. I could have chosen the work of a Black Queer Male artist like myself, but I wished to practice a little of what I preach: If we lift up Black Queer Women, we lift up everyone. However, there is a tension here of which I am consciousness that brings up questions about the nature of representation and of who gets to direct who. By directing this play, am I continuing a patriarchal relationship of men directing women? Is their story for me to tell? What does it mean to be a male feminist and how can I help to flatten theatrical hierarchies from casting to production and beyond? I also think this discussion extends to the question of white directors directing black and brown bodies. As a black male feminist, I think these questions are important and I have opened this discussion from the first company meeting with the performers and I bring it up to you today to see if it shifts something in your relationship to the work of these fine artists.
How to Catch Creation is itself a cluster of relationships that also reflect our own contemporary moment of quarantine and civil engagement. Our situation of Covid-19 entrapment is not only amplifying our political polarization and income inequalities. It is offering us an opportunity to engage in either a creative sterility or a creative fecundity, a creative (ar)rest or a creative liberation. The world that will emerge through this pandemic and political polarity with not be of a passive emergence but will be a result of our engaged intention and creative drive to manifest a better world that includes ALL OF US. If Black Queer Lives do not matter, then No Black Life matters. If Black Lives do not matter, then No Life matters. In this virtual reading, we seek to lift up, make visible, and celebrate the humanity of Black and Black Queer agency, creativity, and perseverance. After all, we are not the descendants of slaves, we are descendants of survivors and overcomers who, in spite of chains and white hoods, use the power of their souls to laugh, love, and create.
— Johann Robert Wood
Thousands of years ago, when parchment was expensive but more durable than papyrus, writers and artists would save money by utilizing the same piece of parchment for many projects. They would write or paint over the work of previous creators in order to share new ideas, creating documents that could hold many layers of historical record hidden beneath thin layers of paint or complicated writing patterns. We are occasionally able to peel pack pieces of these documents, called palimpsests, to unveil small glimpses into the complex story each piece of parchment may reveal about the ways in which it was utilized over time. Because it is impossible to neatly peel back and understand all of the layers, the resulting revealed palimpsest becomes its own, semi-revelatory piece of visual art.
Christina Anderson’s How to Catch Creation is, in many ways, an artistic palimpsest. It spans two different eras, taking us to the San Francisco Bay Area during the heart of the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, and then the mid-2010s, one year after the Black Lives Matter movement was officially founded. Each character strives to create something: visual art, music, clothing, writing, a human baby—and their methods of creation specifically reflect the varied intersections of being black, queer, and/or female in America. Each character faces the difficulty of deciding whether they wish to peel back or paint over the symbolic parchment of their lives in an attempt to understand their past and change their future.
This semester, the Theatre UCF community and its audiences are challenged to consider how they can amplify, empower, and illuminate stories that have been historically written-over or marginalized. As a white cis-female dramaturg myself, the process of researching How to Catch Creation has been an opportunity to investigate my own privilege. How can I best use my voice and institutional power to magnify the artistic work of my BIPOC collaborators—namely, a black director and an all-black cast? I believe it starts by first identifying myself as a white, cis-identifying dramaturg, and in doing so, I hope to shift beyond the paradigm of “default whiteness” and into a more honest dramaturgical process of self-exploration and acknowledgement.
The more layers we peel back from the palimpsest of the characters’ lives in How to Catch Creation, the more history is revealed. This is a history of oppressive forces—such as white supremacy, homophobia, sexism, and colorism—working against black queer artists who simply wish to create something. G.K. and Natalie lived and worked in the shadow of the Watts Riots; Tami, Stokes, Riley and Griffin struggled to find their voices in the wake of Fergusson; in 2020, we too are living in a flash point moment of history. This year has forced me to look at how and why I create, as well as the ways in which I can leverage my privilege to foster the creations of those whose work has been “painted over.”
This play begins and ends with the possibility of creation. Like the characters in the play, we are all given the call to examine our complicity in white supremacist, homophobic, or purely patriarchal logics and institutions. This play also issues a specific and much needed plea for BIPOC and Queer audiences to find new ways of healing and community through the power of creation.
— Joni Newman
Anita Whitney Bennett (Natalie) is a first-year graduate student in the MFA Acting program. This is her UCF debut. Theatre credits include God’s Necklace (Hyena Spotty, Nyaliep), Step Show: The Musical (Monie), Un-tamed (Josie, Lu, Isha, Renee), Inacent Black and the Five Brothers (Inacent Black), Black Sparta (Thema), Twelve Angry Women (Juror 10), and Ruined (Salima).
Karlo Buxo-Morales (U/S Griffin, U/S Stokes) is a BFA Musical Theatre senior and he is honored to be studying beside such talented performers. Previous Theatre UCF credits include Urinetown and She Kills Monsters. Other major shows include A Chorus Line and In the Heights. Instagram: @karlobuxo
Christy Clark (Tami) is a third-year graduate student in the MFA Acting program. Her Theatre UCF credits include: Urinetown (Pennywise), The Rover (Angelica Bianca), and Sweat (Cynthia). Other theatre credits include Hairspray (Dynamite, U/S Motormouth), Ragtime (Sarah), and The Wiz (Glenda). thechristyclark.com
Janiece Deveaux (Riley) is a sophomore in the BFA Musical Theatre program. She was cast in Theatre UCF’s A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Swing). Other theatre credits include: Chicago (Velma Kelly), Phantom of the Opera (Meg Giry) and Into the Woods Jr. (Cinderella).
Jessica T. Johnson (G.K. Marche) is an MFA graduate student at UCF. She was born in Houston, Texas, and is an alumnus of Texas Southern University. Her UCF credits include Our Country’s Good, The Last Paving Stone and The Rover. Other theatre credits include A Midsummer Night's Dream (Helena), and Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (Shaunta Iyun).
Timothy Jones II (Griffin) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. His credits include Theatre UCF’s Sweat (U/S Brucie) and Moment to Moment’s Barren (Tom). He has also directed a play at Pensacola State College called The Worker.
Mackenley Ria (Stokes) is a third-year transfer student in the BFA Musical Theatre program. This is his UCF debut. He was last seen at the Athens Theatre’s production of Singing in the Rain. Other theatre credits include How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying (Twimble/Wally Womper) and Noises Off (Selsdon Mowbrary). He is also studying to be a composer and pianist and hopes to one day write his own musical.
Timandra Richardson (Stage Reader, Receptionist, U/S Tami, U/S Riley, U/S G.K. Marche, U/S Natalie) is a second-year transfer student in the BFA Acting program. Theatre UCF credits include Sweat (U/S Cynthia), and other theatre credits include Harvey (Mrs. Chumley) and Into the Woods (Jack’s Mother).
Syd Deines (Assistant Production Designer) is a sophomore in the BFA Design and Technology program. Her previous credits include Assistant Props Master for Urinetown.
Thom Hagney (Assistant Stage Manager, she/her) is a first-year transfer student in the BFA Stage Management program. This is her first production with Theatre UCF. Her other professional credits include Lil and Louis (Production Stage Manager), at JoMo Productions, Ethal Waters (Follow Spot), Marvoulse Wonderettes (Follow Spot) at Florida Studio Theater, and The Song of Paul (Stage Manager) at Church of the Palms.
Joni Newman (Dramaturg) holds a B.A. in English Education from Brigham Young University and is an MFA candidate in Theatre for Young Audiences at UCF. Although her professional background involves nearly a decade of teaching English to high school and junior high students, she has been a performer all of her life. Favorite credits include The Music Man (Marian), The Foreigner (Catherine), Steel Magnolias (Shelby), Noises Off (Belinda) and Little Women: The Musical (Beth). She has also helped assistant direct and choreograph numerous productions throughout Utah. She is passionate about Theatre for Social Change and is honored to be part of this incredible production.
Greyson Phillips (Sound Designer/Audio Engineer) is a third-year transfer in the Design and Technology BFA program. His previous credits include A Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder (Audio Engineer), It’s A Small World (or, The Robot Play) (Sound Designer), El Wiz (Audio Engineer), Titanic: The Musical (Mic Technician), and Sweat (Asst. to Sound Designer) as well as multiple shows in corporate AV. He is particularly interested in immersive sound and the influence of music on an experience.
Morgan Polodna (Stage Manager) is a second-year transfer in the BFA Stage Management program. She is making her Theatre UCF debut! Other theatre credits include Lion King Jr. (Production Assistant) and Steel Magnolias (Run Crew)
Johann Robert Wood (Director) holds an MFA in Devised Performance and is a UCF M.A. candidate in Theatre Studies. His research interests are radical queer performance and embodied research. At UCF, he has assistant-directed Seminar, Bernarda Alba, and Intuitive Men. Most recently as an Equity Actor, he received Memphis’ 2020 Ostrander’s Theatre Award for Best Lead in a Musical for Jelly’s Last Jam. @nowcallmeyo
Graduate student dramaturg Joni Newman’s presentation, below, highlights modern Black artists who use their medium to highlight the challenges and beauties of creating in the 21st Century. Click through the presentation below, or click here to view it in a new tab on your browser.
How to Catch Creation received its World Premiere at
Goodman Theatre, Chicago, Illinois on January 28, 2019
Robert Falls, Artistic Director Roche Schulfer, Executive Director