Christopher B. Duncan, Salli Richardson and Jenifer Lewis in The Pasadena Playhouse's production of The Old Settler
CCH Pounder and Christopher B. Duncan in The Pasadena Playhouse's production of The Old Settler
Photos by Craig Schwartz Photography
The Old Settler, a play written by John Henry Redwood, first opened at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, New Jersey on February 7, 1997. It was a co-production with the Long Wharf Theatre in New Haven, Connecticut.
Prior to the formal opening of the play to a wide public, The Old Settler had been chosen to participate in the 1995 Eugene O'Neill Theatre Conference in Waterford, Connecticut. It was seen there by the Russian Theatre Union, which chose it to be performed in Russia. In 1996, the play was rehearsed and performed in Sheleykovo, Russia and then in Moscow, with both an American and Russian cast. The cast was made up of CCH Pounder, Lorraine Toussaint, and T'keyah Crystal Keymah (In Living Color and The Cosby Show).
"When I was in Russia," says Mr. Redwood, "we had a question and answer session and someone stood up and said that the play is very Chekhovian. That's why it took so well over there. It was an interesting process because we had it done with Russian actors, but we took American actors over, too. So they had an opportunity to hear it in Russian. But the greatest honor came to me when a woman stood up and said that she didn't believe that a man had written this play. That was the greatest compliment in the world to me."
The play has been translated into Russian and is currently being prepared to be translated into French.
There have been over 40 productions of The Old Settler throughout the United States, including the Pasadena Playhouse, Long Beach Playhouse and the Old Globe. Some of the actors who have performed in these production are:
Leslie Uggams (GeVa Theatre, Virginia Stage and Primary Stages, New York), S. Ephata Merrcison (Studio Theatre, Washington, DC), CCH Pounder (Pasadena Playhouse, Sheleykovo and Moscow, Russia), Lorraine Toussaint (Shelekovo and Moscow, Russia), Roz Ryan (Old Globe), F. Scott Caldwell (O'Neill Conference), Harold Perrineau (O'Neill Conference)
The play has garnered The American Theatre Critics Award, The Virginia Duvall Mann Award, and The Beverly Hills/Julie Harris Playwrights Award.
Mr. Redwood has been named the recipient of the 2001 Bryan Family Foundation Drama Award for Southern Literature.