‘Wine in the Wilderness’ talks civil rights

Play takes place during the 1964 Harlem race riots

Helfaer Theatre’s “Wine in the Wilderness” takes audiences back to the 1964 Harlem race riots to define what it means to be a strong woman within the African American community. The production will conclude the 2015-’16 “Celebrating Strong Women” theme.

Overseeing the play is guest director Marti Gobel, an actress from San Diego who is returning to Marquette after directing “In the Red and Brown Water” last year.

The main character, Bill Jameson, is an artist in Harlem at the time who is painting a triptych, a piece consisting of three panels hinged together, to embody black womanhood. “Wine in the Wilderness” demonstrates the struggle for African-Americans in seeking equality and justice during the civil rights movement.

“(I hope the play) can speak for the black community about what it means to be black, as that is what the play addresses,” said Chloe Hurckes, a sophomore in the College of Communication and actress in the play.

“The back story of the riots drives the play as a whole,” Hurckes said in an email. “The only reason that we meet one of the main characters is because her apartment was burned down during the riots, and she happened to be at the same bar as some of the other characters.”

“Wine in the Wilderness” only features three current Marquette students. A.J Magoon, a sophomore in the College of Communication and assistant to the artistic director, said he feels that the addition of alumni and outside actors creates a more profesional play.

“I think that, no matter the production, bringing in outside talent definitely enhances our productions,” Magoon said in an email. “There’s a sense of hard work and dedication that’s incredibly strong. Everyone gets the idea that with a professional in the house, they have to ramp their usual 110 percent up even higher, and I know guest director Marti Gobel pushes them for their absolute best.”

“It was nice to work with an old friend (2015 Marquette graduate Terrence Morris Jr.) and an outside actor (James Carrington) to collaborate on something we are all passionate about,” Hurckes said.

The passion that the actors have in this play stem from their personal lives. Some of the actors personally relate with the struggle in the play, which is shown through their emotional connection.

“This is a show you definitely want to see,” Hurckes said. “The play addresses what it means to be black. We witness the birth of African-American philosophical thought for an awakening race on all things from hair to femininity and from education to art.”

“Wine in the Wilderness” will be presented Thursday, April 28, and Friday, April 29, at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the Helfaer.