EgoPo shakes up history with ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’

 

Actors Ed Swidey and Steve Wright face off in "Uncle Tom's Cabin: An Unfortunate History." Credit: EgoPo Classic Theater
Actors Ed Swidey and Steve Wright face off in “Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History.”
Credit: EgoPo Classic Theater

 

The edgy EgoPo theater company is revisiting a classic with “Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History.” Director Lane Savadove hopes the audience leaves the play with a new take on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novel — and on the character of Uncle Tom.

“The judgment about the novel came mostly from the vaudeville performances of the book,” says Savadove. “Minstrel versions started to appear and white actors played the part of black characters in black face and the story became racially regressive.”

The phrase “Uncle Tom” evolved into a slur for a person — especially someone black — who’s overly subservient and submissive.

“To be an ‘Uncle Tom’ is somebody who acts how the white man wants him to act,” Savadore says. “That makes sense in the vaudeville performances, but that did not come from the novel. He is a Christian martyr. He stands up to the most evil man in the novel and he is willing to give his life and does give his life for his ideals and his values.”

“Any idea that Uncle Tom is weak is not true,” he adds.

Due to its numerous stagings during the vaudeville era of the late 1800s and early 1900s, “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is the most performed work of American theater, according to Savadove. The novel itself is credited with helping to end slavery.

“I went back and I read the original novel, which I had never read, and it was amazing — suddenly it was this fantastic piece of American literature,” he says. “America had to change its very DNA for there to be racial harmony. Stowe was dreaming of a fully integrated post-racial society.”

The EgoPo staging of “Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History” opens this week at Plays & Players Theatre, closing out a season of vaudeville-themed works. The production is cross-racially cast, with white actors playing slaves and black actors playing slave masters.

“We want to wake up history a little bit,” Savadore says.
 

If you go

“Uncle Tom’s Cabin: An Unfortunate History”

May 31-June 9, 8 p.m.

Previews May 29-30

Plays & Players Theatre

1714 Delancey Place

$20 to $32

www.egopo.org

 


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

National

Divers struggle in search for South Korean ferry…

By Jungmin Jang and Narae KimMOKPO/JINDO, South Korea (Reuters) - Rescuers struggled with strong waves and murky waters on Thursday as they searched for hundreds…

National

New Hampshire moves to decriminalize adultery

For the first time in hundreds of years, it's about to be legal to cheat on your spouse in New Hampshire.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Movies

Review: 'Fading Gigolo' finds few jokes in women…

John Turturro writes, directs and stars in "Fading Gigolo," in which he plays a prostitute whose pimp is Woody Allen. And there's still very few jokes.

NHL

Rangers draw first blood against Flyers in Game…

Brad Richards and Derek Stepan scored power-play goals 47 seconds apart to lead the Rangers to a 4-1 win.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

NFL

Chris Johnson: I wanted to go to 'a…

Now that Chris Johnson is a Jet, the team has to figure out if one of the most explosive players in the NFL over the last half decade has anything…

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.