The Black Rep Theater will be the site of the work of author and director Dr. Clarence Cuthbertson’s premier of Tituba and Nat Turner.” The one hour solo performances of “Tituba and Nat Turner” will be performed Friday, Saturday and Sunday (2/22-24) at 3201 Adeline Street, Berkeley. In a phone interview, Dr. Cuthbertson of New York City originally from the Carribean Virgin Islands, revealed the depth of his commitment and passion for the these two characters, marginalized and mischaracterized. The Salem trials for witchcraft and the story of the 17th century Tituba, and Nat Turner in the 19th Century are stereotypes based on fear and suspicion with people looking to find a cause for their trouble. In the play, we are witness to flesh and blood heroes and the place they hold in history.
Dr. Cuthbertson’s, with a home base in St. John, Virgin Islands and San Diego, brings the essence of his work with the Carabana Ensemble Theater to this work. He has presented 7 or 8 plays that have received awards of excellence. The AVEELTO and OBIE awards most recently reflect the imagination and inspiration of his work and its value to the theater. The Lambs Theater, Billy Holiday Theater, Yale and the Franklin Theater are places he has presented his plays, as well as the National Black Theater in New York City. He mentions all his work has been on the East Coast and that this weekend to celebrate Black History Month, he will have his first West Coast premier with the solo performances of “Tituba and Nat Turner.”
The research that Dr. Cuthbertson found on Tituba, the 17th Century black young woman accused of witchcraft who also was portrayed by Arthur Miller in the Crucible, is a very different story. The Quakers in that time when strange illnesses came to their community looked to witchcraft as the source of the problem. Tituba, Dr. Cuthbertson found, was perceived and punished because of their misconceptions. She was born in the Carribean Islands in the Tituba tribe, and took the tribe’s name as her own because of the warning of her grandmother not to disclose her real name. A family from Boston purchased her and took her to Boston where her mystical manner was perceived to be evidence of her being a witch. In fact, Dr. Cuthbertson’s research found that at that time, what the people were suffering from was a result of spoiled wheat and rye which had an effect similar to LSD. So profound was his revelation in his play that Arthur Miller visited Dr. Cuthbertson and asked how he got his knowledge. Arthur Miller had used trial transcripts and was truly very appreciative of Cuthbertson’s work in getting to a depth about Tituba, with his following the name back to Barbedos in order to come to a real understanding of what happened.
Tickets are available for the premier performance and it promises to be a very exciting evening.
Friday, Saturday & Sunday – call for reservations and tickets.
Black Rep Theater, 3201 Adeline Streey, Berkeley.
www.blackrepetorygoup.com. 510 652-2120.