As far as theater scandals go, “Naked Wilson” sounds rather intriguing.
For the two artists in Pearl Cleage’s new play, taking some liberties with August Wilson’s “Fences” drove them to flee criticism in the States by going into a self-imposed exile in Amsterdam. And now, 25 years later, actress Anna Campbell and director Betty Samson return to find out what the new generation makes of their work.
The play had its world premiere at the Alliance Theatre on March 20. It’s called “Angry, Raucous, And Shamelessly Gorgeous,” and it runs through April 15.
Upon returning, they meet an ambitious young performer named Pete Watson who will be recreating Anna’s role, and the two are surprised to discover that she is not terribly familiar with the works of August Wilson, but whose experience on stage is largely in adult entertainment.
“She’s been dancing for 10 years but now she’s ready to try something new and she has some wonderful ideas,” Cleage explains to “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes, “but she doesn’t really have a structure for that.” The playwright says she purposefully wrote a character who was young and unapologetic about her past.
“She doesn’t have any problem with what she’s been doing for a living, she’s not ashamed of it. But so many people have harsh judgements on younger people, so I wanted to create a character where if we were perfect and non-judgemental, and would never judge a young person, I wanted to create a character who can test that for you,” Cleage says.
“Looking at the conversation between generations, looking at how we can communicate better with each other, is something that is very much on my mind,” Cleage says. “Part of what is so important to me is to figure out not only how to tell them what I know and what I think, but to learn how to be quiet long enough to listen to what they think.