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"Broke-ology", Presented by Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse
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"Broke-ology", Presented by Lincoln Center Theater at the Mitzi E. Newhouse

- Backstage with the Playwrights

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One Block West of the Theater District
401 West 52nd St. (at 9th Ave.)
Open 7 Days 5:00 pm to 2:00 am

Lincoln Center Theater
At the Mitzi E. Newhouse
(Broke-Ology Website)
Under the Direction of Andre Bishop and Bernard Gersten
By Nathan Louis Jackson

Francois Battiste, Crystal A. Dickinson,
Alano Miller, Wendell Pierce

Directed by Thomas Kail
Sets: Donyale Werle
Costumes: Emily Rebholz
Lighting: Jason Lyons
Sound: Jill BC DuBoff
Stage Manager: Rachel S. McCutchen
Casting: Daniel Swee and Mele Nagler
Director of Development: Hattie K. Jutagir
Director of Marketing: Linda Mason Ross
General Press Agent: Philip Rinaldi
General Manager: Adam Siegel
Production Manager: Jeff Hamlin

Dr. Roberta E. Zlokower
November 20, 2009

Broke-ology, a name penned by Ennis King, one of the two sons in this lower income, African-American family in Kansas City, to describe his specialty, compared to his brother Malcolm’s new Masters Degree in environmental science, is one of the most absorbing and warmly penned new plays of the season. Nathan Louis Jackson has written about a loving couple’s romance and dreams, in 1982, when they were blissfully happy, yet hopelessly poor, and expecting their first child. Matching shirts were sewn, so the family would dress like a team, a tightly bonded trio, on the way to even happier times and longed for success for their children. Wendell Pierce, as William King, and Crystal A. Dickinson, as Sonia King, seem like the perfect couple. They didn’t have much, but their romantic chemistry and mutual aspirations gave them strength and stability.

The scene that follows is missing Sonia, and we soon learn of her early death. Ennis King (Francois Battiste) and Malcolm King (Alano Miller), along with father, William, re-appear in 2009, and William suffers from debilitating multiple sclerosis. He’s still poor, and the house shows it (thanks to Donyale Werle’s precisely telling set). The family’s happiness is found in games of dominoes, where the three bet small, but the laughs are large. Friction builds around William’s deterioration, and arguments abound as to which brother will care for him. Ennis holds down several shifts at a diner, as his girlfriend is pregnant, and Malcolm looks to the East for his incipient career. If Malcolm leaves, Ennis is suddenly responsible for three adults and a baby, plus William’s many medicines and hospital visits. If Malcolm stays, he’s back to his roots, as if his college education had been for naught. William sees all and moves fate with his own hands.

During the scenes of 2009, Sonia re-appears to William, in hallucinations and dreams, and he even tries to shave and dress up to take her dancing, this wife deceased for 15 years. William’s love for Sonia, which he apparently did not show as much as she had wished (a fact revealed during their hallucinatory conversations), is unquestionable now late in life. In fact, he speaks of dreams, in which he returns to stormy waters to drown with his drowning wife. There is poignancy, despair, remorse, conflict, pain, and confrontation. The four actors dramatized their respective roles with emotional nuance and physical detail. Gesture, posture, tone, and affect, were all combined for truly professional performances. This is one play that stays in the mind, days and weeks after the viewing. Thomas Kail, Director, keeps the timing laid-back and unpretentious. Thus a sense of authenticity pervades the stage, and we are drawn in.

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