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(PDF) (DOC) (JPG)October 19, 2001

(Mahwah) – Spunk, George C. Wolfe’s stage adaptation of three stories by Zora Neale Hurston, will open at Ramapo College of New Jersey Thursday, November 8 at 8 p.m. in the Sharp Theater. The play continues November 9, 10, 15, 16 and 17 at 8 p.m. and November 14 at 5 p.m. Award-winning actor and director Shona Tucker will direct.

An exploration and reevaluation of African-American culture, Spunk makes use of narration, dramatization, puppetry, dance and musical interludes. Wolfe (aided by the original country blues by Chic Street man) creates from Hurston’s word-drunk prose a rich tapestry of rural and urban life early in the 20th Century. Hurston presents the good, the bad, the hopeful of African American life. The play explores the exploits of the devilish in “Sweat,” the anguish of a love story gone awry over gold in “The Gilded Six-Bits,” and takes a peek into the hep world of style and braggadocio in “Story in Harlem Slang.”

The cry of “Self-definition no matter who likes it!” seemed to fuel most of the exploding talent that burgeoned out of Harlem during the 1920s and 1930s in a period known as the Harlem Renaissance. But none of these young artists took it more to heart than the loud, colorful, zesty writer and personality, Zora Neale Hurston. Hurston believed in living life “out loud” and she wrote her stories, her plays, her characters under this credo – making no apologies for their foibles and yet not overly praising their virtues.

Perhaps because of her anthropological background, her rearing in all Black
Eatonville, Florida, or just her superb ear as a writer, these stories transcend the specific and capture the universal. The language mesmerizes as it jumps from cadence to cadence and image to image.

Director Shona Tucker, a three-time recipient of a Schomburg Fellowship, previously directed The African Company Presents Richard III and Hot’l Baltimore at Ramapo. Tucker is an adjunct professor at Ramapo and at Vassar College. In addition, she is a teaching artist for Inside Broadway. She has adapted and directed short stories by William Faulkner, Truman Capote, Katherine Anne Porter and Carson McCullers for the Southern Accents series at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery. Other directing credits include: Linda Means to Wait at Intar Theater, NY; Wait Until Dark at Harlem Theatre Company, NY; and Flyin’ West and The Life You Save May Be Your Own at New York University’s Graduate Acting Director’s Lab.

As an actress she has performed on stages across the United States and in several countries. Most recently, she portrayed Ida B. Wells in Constant Star at Arena Stage, Washington, D.C. Television and film credits include Third Watch, Trinity, Boys on the Side, Alice, One Life to Live, New York Undercover and Law and Order. A former Fulbright Scholar for research studies in Nigeria, and Visiting Academic Scholar at Miami University of Ohio, Tucker received her Bachelor of Science Degree from Northwestern University and her MFA and directing credentials from NYU’s Graduate Acting Program. Tucker has been honored with an Audelco Award.

Cast and crew members include: Elsie Byers of Newark, Michael Drains of Woodstown, Ijeoma Anyaoku of East Orange, Tryon Eggleston of Montclair, Heather Nilsen of Hamburg, Jair Pinckney of Englewood, Maribel Rudecindo of Pomona, NY, Robert Stephens of Newark, and Auslin Williams of Neptune.

Tickets for Spunk are $10 for adults, $5 for students. For information, call (201) 684-7888.

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Ramapo College of New Jersey is the state’s premier public liberal arts college and is committed to academic excellence through interdisciplinary and experiential learning, and international and intercultural understanding. The College is ranked #1 among New Jersey public institutions by College Choice, has been named one of the 50 Most Beautiful College Campuses in America by CondeNast Traveler, and is recognized as a top college by U.S. News & World Report, Kiplinger’s, Princeton Review and Money magazine, among others. Ramapo College is also distinguished as a Career Development College of Distinction by CollegesofDistinction.com, boasts the best campus housing in New Jersey on Niche.com, and is designated a “Military Friendly College” in Victoria Media’s Guide to Military Friendly Schools.

Established in 1969, Ramapo College offers bachelor’s degrees in the arts, business, data science, humanities, social sciences and the sciences, as well as in professional studies, which include business, education, nursing and social work. In addition, the College offers courses leading to teacher certification at the elementary and secondary levels, and offers graduate programs leading to master’s degrees in Accounting, Business Administration, Creative Music Technology, Data Science, Educational Technology, Educational Leadership, Nursing, Social Work and Special Education, as well as a post-master’s Doctor of Nursing Practice.

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