No, I'm not talking about the Ruined film that's in the works with Oprah as Mama Nadi. I'm referring to Lynn Nottage's new play about old Hollywood, By the Way, Meet Very Stark, in which the Pulitzer winner depicts a slightly fictionalized African-American actress' career from the 1930s to the '70s, when roles for performers of color were circumscribed by everything from the Hays Code to the Red Scare. Oh, and it's a comedy. From my Time Out piece this week:
“I wrote Ruined and Vera Stark at the same time,” Nottage recalls. “That’s just how my brain functions—when I’m dwelling someplace very heavy, I need a release. The great thing about Vera Stark is that my research was watching movies, screwball comedies, so I could literally sit back and relax.”There's even an alternative-universe website, meetverastark.com, which, I've been told, will soon feature an interview with Peter Bogdanovich about Maximilian Von Oster, the director of Vera's memorable (and entirely fictional) 1933 film The Belle of New Orleans. A sizeable excerpt from that film has been created for the Second Stage run of Vera Stark, which stars Sanaa Lathan and Daniel Breaker, but personally I'm curious about Vera's much later work God's Fitful Chilluns.