As part of Group Rep’s virtual festival, UNHIDDEN FIGURES, we proudly highlight “Surgery and Divorce” now available to stream on demand.
Surgery and Divorce written by Bert Emmett, directed by Victor D’wayne Little, performed by Keyara Milliner and Adam Smith.
1963. Raisin in the Sun playwright/activist Lorraine Hansberry calls her estranged husband shortly after her meeting with the Attorney General of the U. S. to give him some rather significant news.
From the author, Bert Emmett:
I performed as Karl Lindner in A Noise Within’s production of A Raisin in the Sun in early 2018. Many events took place to promote not only the play, but the expanse of life lived (as short as it was) by playwright and essayist Lorraine Hansberry. I had a chance to attend a symposium and meet her sister, Mamie Hansberry, at which time a documentary on the young, gifted, and Black writer was also presented. I was enthralled. Hansberry’s spirit was strong, her objectives clear, her purpose resolute, and her talent and intellect unquestionable.
After seeing a documentary on Harry Belafonte guest hosting “The Tonight Show” in 1968 (a two week period in which he had on both Martin Luther King and Robert Kennedy), I was struck by learning of Hansberry’s role in a meeting writer and activist James Baldwin had with Kennedy, a meeting at which Hansberry, along with Belafonte and Freedom Rider Jerome Smith among other leaders of the Black community, was also present. Hansberry grew so disgusted with the way the conversation occurred that she walked out.
After Artistic Director Doug Haverty asked us to highlight little known aspects of amazing Black women to celebrate Black History Month and Women’s History Month, I couldn’t help but think this meeting would be particularly good material for a short play.
Unfortunately, during that turbulent year, it was clear that Hansberry would have learned about her pancreatic cancer. She was estranged from her husband but entrusted him with her work and continued to collaborate with him. I imagined a conversation she has with her husband, Robert Nemiroff, to glimpse into her state of mind, the news of the time, and her place in history.
I believe Lorraine Hansberry is a truly inspirational figure. She left behind trenchant observations into the heart of America’s bigotry (in its many forms – I do not address how resilient she was, too, in advocating for rights of those in the gay and lesbian community), but it is her work outside of her most famous play that I find most outstanding.
Bert Emmett Bio:
A long standing member of The Group Rep, Bert has performed in numerous productions at GRT including Cobb, Lombardi, Sherlock’s Last Case, and The Armadillo Necktie. In 2016, he wrote and performed in his original short play “American Zarathustra” in GRT’s Puttin’ on Your Shorts. He was also recently featured in the Gem of the Ocean and Alice in Wonderland at A Noise Within in Pasadena. He has directed Breadcrumbs and “Unfathomable” for GRT and is the Executive Director
Keyara Milliner (Lorraine/Surgery and Divorce): Keyara Milliner is a bicoastal actress working out of Los Angeles and New Orleans. Most recently Keyara appeared in the regional premiere of The Wolves at Southern Rep Theatre in New Orleans. She can also be seen on NCIS: New Orleans, 13 Reasons Why and Sydney To the Max! Keyara aspires to tell the extraordinary stories of women and minorities as well as to champion the untold perspectives of new and innovative voices on screen.
Adam Smith (Robert/Divorce and Surgery): Adam is excited to be back on stage in … Oh wait! Adam is thrilled to be performing in front of a live audience once again … No, that’s not right either. Adam is making his virtual stage debut, and happy he bought stock in ZOOM!!! Lol. This is Adam’s second production with GRT. He was seen in 2019’s Nine Winning One Acts. Other favorite credits include: Little Shop of Horrors, Cabaret, The Producers, Angeles In America.
CREATIVE & PRODUCTION TEAM
Kathleen Delaney, Brooklyn Sample & Melanie Lee (Producers), Doug Engalla (Editor), Hartley Powers (Animation & Sound Design), Doug Haverty (Graphic Design), Heidi Mendez (Tech Director)