Deeper Dive: A closer look at ‘Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous’


An all-female tribute to aging gracefully and … gorgeously

  • Written by: Pearl Cleage
  • Partnering companies: The DCPA Theatre Company is staging Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous in association with Arena Stage in Washington, D.C., Hartford Stage in Connecticut, and Cleveland Playhouse in Ohio. After it debuts in Denver, it will then go to Washington, Hartford and Cleveland.
  • Year written: 2018
  • Director: Susan V. Booth, Artistic Director of the Alliance Theater in Atlanta
  • Dates: September 18 through October 25, 2020 (Opens September 25)
  • Where: Jones Theatre

“Sometimes when you look the future in the face, it makes you act a fool for a minute until you catch up.”

  • The play at a glance: Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous is an all-female tribute to aging gracefully … and gorgeously.In another life, performance artist Anna Campbell, now 65, sparked controversy when she bared it all in an iconic feminist critique. When a new women’s theatre festival asks to re-stage the piece, Anna’s dreams of reclaiming the spotlight are dashed when she meets the youthful adult entertainer has been hired to re-create her role. But when they set aside their pride and assumptions, the two very different women find they both have just as much to learn as they have to teach. Playwright Pearl Cleage, one of America’s foremost black writers (What Looks Like Crazy on an Ordinary Day), looks back on a lifetime of her own activism with humor and grace in this multi-generational dramatic comedy.
Ericka Ratcliff and Terry Burrell star in the 2019 world premiere of 'Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous' at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Photo by Greg Mooney.

Ericka Ratcliff and Terry Burrell star in the 2019 world premiere of ‘Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous’ at the Alliance Theatre in Atlanta. Photo by Greg Mooney.

  • About the author: The Atlanta-based Pearl Cleage is one of America’s foremost black writers. Her works include the novels “What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day,” “I Wish I Had A Red Dress” and “Some Things I Never Thought I’d Do.” She has written a dozen plays, including Blues for an Alabama Sky and Flyin’ West, as well as two books of essays and a book of short fiction. She is also a performance artist, collaborating frequently with her husband, Zaron W. Burnett, Jr., under the title “Live at Club Zebra.” Her novel “What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day” was an Oprah Book Club pick and spent nine weeks on The New York Times best-seller list.
  • Says Artistic Director Chris Coleman: “Pearl is a fascinating writer in the American theatre. She grew up in Detroit. I met her in Atlanta, when she was the Communications Director for the first black mayor of Atlanta, Andrew Young. She burst onto the scene as a playwright in 1995 with “Blues For An Alabama Sky,” which was finally produced in New York for the first time just last month.”
  • Coleman, on the play: “What is really interestingly human about this story is that it’s about generations. It’s about these two women who speak very different languages, and who have very different values. They don’t like each other very much at first until they find some understanding of each other. What I also like enormously about the piece is that it speaks to what can be the invisibility of women in our culture – and particularly black women.”
  • Quote from the script: “Don’t be nervous. Just stay gone long enough so that if one of us is going to kill the other, the active party will have time to finish the deed.”
  • Last word from the playwright: “This is a story for anyone who has ever tried to build a bridge between generations, hoping to offer a lifetime of advice to some unsuspecting young person who probably hasn’t asked for it, and discovered in the process that there is as much to learn as there is to teach. Engaging in multi-generational relationships and conversations is a really enriching part of life, and now, especially, it’s a big part of our national conversation.”

John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S. by American Theatre Magazine. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

Video bonus: Chris Coleman talks about the play

In the video above, Artistic Director Chris Coleman talks about ‘Angry, Raucous, and Shamelessly Gorgeous.’

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