The Colored Museum

Performance Dates

Friday February 12
Saturday February 13
Sunday February 14 3pm
Saturday February 20 8pm
Sunday February 21
Saturday February 27
Sunday February 28
Saturday March 5 3pm
Saturday March 5
Sunday March 6

Running Time: 90 minutes
Recommended Minimum Age: 12

* February 28th 3pm Performance
is a fundraiser for the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. – Alpha Nu Sigma Chapter.

Talkback Schedule

Saturday February 13 after the show
Sunday February 21 after the show
Sunday February 28 after the show

Talkbacks are an opportunity to discuss with the artists and/or directors of the production. You may ask questions or share your own knowledge pertaining to the performance.

SF Weekly
Optimism and Humor in the African-American Shakespeare Company’s The Colored Museum by Peter Lawrence Kane

The San Francisco Examiner
‘Colored Museum’ a sharp, spot-on satire by Jean Schiffman

Enter ‘The Colored Museum’ by Marke B.

February 13 – March 6, 2016

The Colored Museum

By George C. Wolfe
Directed by Velina Brown, L. Peter Callender, Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, and Michael Gene Sullivan

A poignant, socially-conscious, satirical comedy, THE COLORED MUSEUM is a depiction of black culture in America, especially relevant in today’s world of “Black Lives Matter”. Tony Award-winning playwright, George C. Wolfe, takes us on a journey of Black culture with an “in-your-face” non-apologetic, “take no prisoners” satire that electrifies, unsettles, and delights audiences of all colors. THE COLORED MUSEUM redefines our ideas of what it means to be black in contemporary America as the various exhibits depicts old and new stereotypes.

For the first time in the Bay Area, our own “Fantastic Four” — four distinguished directors, collaborate to bring 11 vignettes to life.

“Mr. Wolfe is the kind of satirist…who takes no prisoners. The shackles of the past have been defied by Mr. Wolfe’s fearless humor, and it’s a most liberating revolt.” —NY Times

“Brings forth a bold new voice that is bound to shake up blacks and whites with separate-but-equal impartiality. True satire.” —Newsweek

Directors’ Notes

Velina BrownL. Peter CallenderEdris Cooper-AnifowosheMichael Gene Sullivan

It’s a pleasure to circle back to this fascinating piece. It is a full circle experience of sorts because I earned my Equity Card performing in the Eureka Theatre/Lorraine Hansberry Theatre co-production back in 1988. Now as part of an amazing directing team I get to revisit a few of the pieces I performed in the West Coast premiere.

The references are older now but the issues remain the same. In fact the central issue for all of the characters and for all of us today is how does one deal with the horror that was slavery, that continued with Jim Crow, and still plagues us today with the nearly daily news stories of yet another black person murdered at the hands of those who are entrusted with the job of serving and protecting?

What does one do with the fear when showing fear attracts abusers? What does one do with the anger when anger attracts condemnation and violence? Each exhibit in this Colored Museum illustrates a different response to the unique pressure that comes with being black in America. As Aunt Ethel describes it the United States has “cooked up a batch of Negros” but doesn’t know what to do with them. We as African Americans need to love and respect ourselves and each other and do what we will with ourselves.

—Velina Brown

Creating the extraordinary. “Permutations” deals with the altering of the given. Transforming that which has been thrown away in to a greater life force. I am intrigued by the idea that a young girl, thrown away by her mother for having relations with a throwaway man, imagines she can create a whole race of people unlike any other; a new race of brilliant people, born of throwaways, to grace the new world. Protected. Self-sufficient. Honored. Breaking out of/from oppression and white dominance; emerging from a white egg and starting to live a new, enlightened existence. “Permutations” reminds us all that when politicians tell us we are not welcome; or neighbors, even family, tell us we are not desired… wishing to throw us away, we should be resolved in knowing that no one can trash us, or disown us, or dishonor us but ourselves. Fly!

—L. Peter Callender

Thirty years ago, George C. Wolfe revolutionized Black theater by smashing play structure, content, & language, and freed up Black theater artists to be able to create and innovate a theater practice with a new vision, a new Black. The Colored Museum talked about oppression in a different way and put onstage, with celebrity all members of the community—the ghetto party girl, the black business negotiating white corporate America, the Hollywood diva, the infamous snap queen. Many of these characters had never been seen before onstage and certainly, never without degradation or mockery. The Colored Museum helped us embrace our own diversity and love ourselves in a new and exciting way. Many have followed in his creative path, but The
Colored Museum was first!

I am thrilled to be a part of the third decade producing The Colored Museum and no better fit than African-American Shakespeare who are dedicated to “envisioning the classics”. Colored Museum is a classic and will certainly give vision to black life for years to come.

—Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe

White America has always tried to pigeonhole Blacks: We’re all dangerous, we’re all docile, we’re all stupid, we’re all devious, all Christians, all demons, too loud, too lazy, we love them, we hate them… of course the truth is all that and much, much more. And our experiences are so broad and deep we cannot be represented by one, or a thousand, or a million images. And even many Blacks use the same narrowed self-perception, and are surprised when they meet a Black atheist, or someone with a non-stereotype “Black” accent, or with whatever experience or philosophy that doesn’t fit a frame of “Blackness” that has been forced on us. The Colored Museum helps shatter all the stereotypes not only for those who would define blackness for us, but also for those of us who have—unconsciously—accepted them.

—Michael Gene Sullivan


Paige Mayes, Girl in “The Photo Session”, Ensemble in “The Hairpiece”, Ensemble in “The Last Mama-on-the Couch Play”, Normal Jean in “Permutations”, and Lala in “The Party”
Clara McDaniel, Aunt Ethel in “Cookin’ with Aunt Ethel”, The Hairpiece in “The Hairpiece”, Mama in “The Last Mama on the Couch”, and Topsy Washington in “The Party”
AeJay Mitchell, Kid in “Symbiosis”, Narrator in “The Last Mama-on-the Couch Play”, Miss Roj in “The Gospel According to Miss Roj”, and Miss Roj in “The Party”
Tavia Percia, Miss Pat in “Git on Board”, Ensemble in “The Hairpiece”, Ensemble in “The Last Mama-on-the Couch Play”, and Miss Pat & Ensemble in “The Party”
Todd Risby, Guy in “The Photo Session”, Man in “Symbiosis”, Walter Lee in “The Last Mama-on-the Couch Play”, Man in “The Party”, and Waiter in “The Gospel According to Miss Roj”

Production Team

Velina Brown, Director of “Git on Board”, “The Photo Session”, and “Lala’s Opening“
L. Peter Callender, Director of “Permutations“
Edris Cooper-Anifowoshe, Director of “The Gospel According to Miss Roj”, “The Hairpiece”, and “The Party”
Michael Gene Sullivan, Director of “Soldier with a Secret”, “Symbiosis”, “The Last Mama-on-the-Couch Play”, and “Cookin’ with Aunt Ethel”
Annye Bone, Stage Manager
Kevin Myrick, Lighting Designer
Derrick Spiva, Musical Director
Russell Leavitt, Set Designer
Michelle Mulholland, Costume Designer
Kenan Arun, Wig Master and Make-up Artist
Bert van Aalsburg, Props Master
LeShawn Holcomb, Associate Artist

Special Thanks

Circle Soul Band
Harold Spiva, Guitar
Georgia Jackson, Harmonica
Philip Casey, Keyboard
Michael McMackin, Drums