If there is one play you cannot afford to miss, it is Marcus Gardley’s HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND, closing March 23rd, following an extended run at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre. I saw the exceptional
performance during a capacity house and the audience was enraptured!
Photos: Kevin Berne
Brilliant staging, costumes, dialect and dialogue all carried on the backs of six determined women–beautifully poised, brave and courageous– lilting under Patricia McGregor’s ingenious direction.
New Orleans has a way of beguiling even the most unwilling and Gardley took full advantage of its allure in telling the little known politics surrounding the plight of the “kept Creole woman” gone, if ever present, from historical annals in current circulation.
A story at-a-glance thought hard to grasp, it is more an unrelenting quest for ascension and freedom, born of women in a male-dominated culture that had its way at will. Ah, but within it contains the strong-hearted, strong-willed, faith-fortified enchantment of youthful love, lust and last chances to break from a tradition cherished by some, disdained by others.
HOUSE THAT WILL NOT STAND is anything but depressing rather an ovation unto itself: breathtaking in charm, arrestingly alarming, humorous, haunting and closing soon. One would regret not having the pleasure of the experience.
“I’m thrilled to be making my debut at Berkeley Rep in the backyard of my hometown of Oakland,” remarks Marcus Gardley. “The House that will not Stand is a story that is close to my heart and I’m grateful to have participated in The Ground Floor, which provided the creative space and artistic support to develop the play into what it is today.
In writing this play, I was very much inspired by New Orleans and a particular time in its history when plaçage (the common-law marriages of white men and black Creole women) was a significant part of the culture. A lot of people don’t know about this history, and a lot of people do not know that African American women were millionaires. I wanted to expose and evaluate the culture and how African American women functioned in New Orleans society within the class system of that era. What’s powerful about the play and this time period is that you see all these questions about freedom coming together and clashing. It raises the notion of ‘what is freedom and can anyone be free?’