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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Uprooted Sets Down Roots in Milwaukee’s Theater Scene

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­This week sees the debut of a new Milwaukee theater group, Uprooted, an African-American company introducing itself with a staging of the one-woman drama Beauty's Daughter by Dael Orlandersmith. An extended monologue about a woman trying to transcend the ghetto, Orlandersmith's 1995 drama speaks with a poet's tongue about the harsh realities of life in an urban wasteland.

Beauty's Daughter stems from an era when poetry slams began reaching mainstream audiences, bringing the power and brutality of poetry back to popular consciousness. Somewhere between monologue and poetry slam, Beauty's Daughter strives to be more than a staged reading of pretty words. The full-length monologue tells the story of a person trying to escape a drug-ridden, impoverished neighborhood. The character relates specific memories of life in East Harlem as a 13-year-old girl developing into a woman in her 30s.

The challenge with Beauty's Daughter lies in bringing the words to the stage in a way that captures both the poetry and the tragic reality behind them. That challenge falls to Marti Gobel, who has been very busy since graduating from UW-Whitewater's theater department in '08. Last season alone, Gobel appeared in three dramatically different professional productions: Milwaukee Chamber Theatre's contemporary drama Well, Renaissance Theaterworks' realization of the ancient Aeschylus play The Persians,and First Stage Children's Theatre's Neverending Story. This time around, Gobel will look to carry an entire show.

Uprooted Theatre's production of Beauty's Daughter runs July 16-19. The opening (July 16) and closing (July 19) shows take place at Café Carpe in Fort Atkinson, with July 17-18 performances at the Broadway Theatre Center's Studio Theatre in Milwaukee.

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