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Charlayne Woodard's "The Night Watcher" at Primary Stages
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Charlayne Woodard's "The Night Watcher" at Primary Stages

- Backstage with the Playwrights

Salon Ziba

200 West 57th Street
New York, NY
Open seven days a week
Ask for Alonso

Primary Stages Presents:
The Night Watcher

Written and Performed By:
Charlayne Woodard
(Charlayne Woodard Website)

Directed by Daniel Sullivan
Primary Stages
Casey Childs, Exec. Producer
Andrew Leynse, Artistic Dir.
Elliot Fox, Managing Dir.

59E59 Theaters
59 East 59th Street

Lighting Design: Geoff Korf
Set Design: Charlie Corcoran and Thomas Lynch
Costume Design: Jess Goldstein
Original Music and Sound Design: Obadiah Eaves
Projection Design: Tal Yarden
Production Stage Manager: Kelly Glasow
Production Supervisor: PRF Productions
Director of Marketing: Shanta Mali
General Manager: Reuben Saunders
Associate Artistic Director: Michelle Bossy
Press: O&M Co.

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
October 3, 2009

There are few solo autobiographical plays that grip the viewer, moment to moment, but Charlayne Woodard’s The Night Watcher still inhabits my mind. Ms. Woodard trained at Chicago's Goodman School of Drama, and she's a member of The Actor's Studio. She moves about the stage with dynamic abandon, traveling through her life’s adventures of being the Auntie, never the mother, eagerly reflecting on real relationships, with her mother, her nieces and nephew, her colleagues and friends, her husband and extended family, and other offstage characters that enter Ms. Woodard’s memory. Projections and colored stage lights enhance the riveting reflections, but it is Ms. Woodard who draws the audience in. As I looked about the theatre, people leaned forward, laughing or seriously absorbed, and Ms. Woodard’s literary and theatrical skills are unparalleled. Most often I actually imagined an ensemble of characters, although only one actor was present. The story line progressed seamlessly from playful, to poignant, to painful, to provocative.

The anecdotes were delivered with persuasive credibility, as these were remarkable, real life scenarios. An early anecdote involved a successful actress friend offering Charlayne a baby to adopt, but, after momentary conflict, Charlayne wanted stardom, not motherhood. Eventually Ms. Woodard became a godmother, an auntie, and a mother to two dogs. Another anecdote involved her role as godmother to a troubled teen, while yet another involved a relative’s adopted, mixed race pre-teen, who was brought up in a wealthy environment, only to shun being seen with black kids her own age. There were stories about another teen’s experience with a sex predator, who happened to be in the family, and another about her nephew’s need to feel strong and secure. As each story revealed its conclusion, another was about to unfold. Moods shifted quickly, but never sharply, as Ms. Woodard figuratively held our hands and walked us through her world.

Obadiah Eaves’ music and sound added vibrant effects to an already vibrant performance. Geoff Korf’s lighting was warm and glowing, and Tal Yarden’s occasional projections brought us into a home, a church, or wherever Ms. Woodard’s immediate scene was set. On every level, The Night Watcher is a deeply satisfying and impressive theatrical experience.

Charlayne Woodard in "The Night Watcher"
Courtesy of James Leynse

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For more information, contact Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower at