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Obie Award winner Metropolitan Playhouse is reviving plays by influential Obie Award winner Metropolitan Playhouse is reviving plays by influential Harlem Renaissance writer Eulalie Spence in an evening directed by Timothy Johnson. “She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind” will play a limited run Feb. 3-27, 2022, in person at the Playhouse, located at 220 E. 4th Street. writer Eulalie Spence in an evening directed by Timothy Johnson. “She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind” will play a limited run Feb. 3-27, 2022, in person at the Playhouse, located at 220 E. 4th Street.

Previews begin Thursday, Feb. 3, and Opening Night will be Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022. “She’s Got Harlem on Her Mind” is an evening of three award-winning one-act plays, framed by à capella musical settings, to celebrate life in Harlem in the ’20s through the eyes of pioneering writer, Eulalie Spence (1894-1981). The plays include “The Starter,” in which hopeful and hard-working T.J. and Georgia may or may not negotiate their engagement; “Hot Stuff,” a night when jaded numbers runner Fanny

King makes a series of bad bets and owes nearly more than she has to lose; and “The Hunch,” a sweet tale of a starry-eyed fiancée getting some unwelcome but much-needed clarity from a devoted admirer. Each play earned prizes from leading magazines of Black culture in 1927: “The Starter” and “The Hunch” from the National Urban League’s journal Opportunity, and “Hot Stuff” from W.E.B. DuBois’ The Crisis.

Metropolitan’s production brings these award-winning plays to the stage directed by Timothy Johnson, director of 2017’s hit revival of “On Strivers Row.” The production features an ensemble of eight actors playing the various roles: Déja Denise Green, Léoh Hailu-Ghermay, SJ Hannah (“Lion King” National Tour, “On Strivers Row”), Bonita Jackson, Eliott Charles Johnson, Rahmell Peebles, Marlaina Powell (“Lion King” on Broadway, “On Strivers Row”), and Mark Shock (David Cromer’s “Our Town”).

The set is by Jacob Brown, costumes by Sabrinna Fabi, lighting by Heather M. Crocker (“Radium Girls”), and sound by Bill Toles (“Walk Hard,” “Shadow of Heroes,” “Radium Girls”).

Distinguished by the authentic dialect and idiom of her characters, the majority of Spence’s work concerns the everyday life of contemporary Black people. She celebrates their humanity, neither romanticizing nor politicizing their stories, nor viewing them in perspective of white mainstream culture. A childhood immigrant to New York from the Caribbean island of Nevis who earned her BA from NYU and her MA from Teachers College, Spence was a New York public school teacher for most of her adult life. During her long tenure at Brooklyn’s Eastern District High School, she included among her students Public Theater founder Joseph Papp, who called her “the most influential force in his life.”

Through the ’20s and ’30s, she was also a well-respected playwright, actor, director, closely involved with the Krigwa Players, The Dunbar Garden Players, and Columbia University’s Laboratory Players. Of her 14 known plays, six earned prizes from Black literary magazines The Crisis and Opportunity and from the Krigwa Players. Her greatest mainstream commercial success was nonetheless a series of near-misses: her only full-length play, “The Whipping,” adapted from a novel by Roy Flannagan, was slated for a commercial premiere in 1933 starring Queenie Smith, but was canceled before opening. Spence optioned the script to Paramount Pictures for a film that ultimately became the barely recognizable Ida Lupino comedy, “Ready for Love.” “The Whipping” was her last play, though she remained an active director and drama teacher for her remaining years.

For more information, www.metropolitanplayhouse.org/tickets, or call 800-838-3006.

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