Midtown Direct Rep


Midtown Direct Rep (MDR) is delighted to present its third reading of its 2017-2018 staged reading series, Theater at The Woodland, with a presentation of THE MAGIC NEGRO AND OTHER BLACKNESS, written and directed by Mark Kendall. This event will be performed for one night only on Sunday, January 14th at 7:00pm at The Woodland (60 Woodland Rd. Maplewood, NJ), where MDR is the resident theater company. The reading is $20 (advance purchase), $25 (if purchased at the door) and open to the public. Student/Senior discounts are also available. Tickets can be purchased online through Eventbrite by clicking the link HERE.

Why do we laugh at the things that we do, and why are we sometimes a little wary laughing at others? Well, maybe it’s time to take a closer look. Mark Kendall uses a series of comedic sketches to examine the representation of black males in the media in his critically acclaimed one-man show. By dissecting common themes in representations of the African-American experience, from race cards to white flight, and Aunt Jemima to Black Jesus, Kendall will make you laugh until you cry and cry until you laugh.

And if you have ever pondered the idea that Dr. Seuss’ Green Eggs and Ham might be racially charged, or whether it is possible to skip and listen to hip-hop at the same time, or for that matter, whether black people actually carry around race cards, then come laugh out loud and hear the Magic Negro lay down some comedic wisdom!

Originally created and produced at Dad’s Garage Theatre in Atlanta.

About the play – a statement from the author

When I first wrote and performed “The Magic Negro and Other Blackity Blackness” back in 2014, I wanted to use comedy to explore how stereotypes can limit how we see black men in every day life. But after performing the material for a couple years, I began to wonder, are people understanding the satire, or am I just giving them an opportunity to laugh at stereotypes? This was something that I struggled with for a bit, and after a few revisions, I tried to address that inner-questioning more in the work. I wanted to point out that stereotypes are ridiculous, but why do they stick in the first place? And for me, when I see an audience start to question their own laughter, that’s when the real comedy can start.”

About the playwright – Mark Kendall

Mark Kendall first got into comedy while studying film at Northwestern University. He had a chance to work at Comedy Central through the Chris Rock Summer School Program for up and coming comedy writers of color. During his time at Comedy Central, Kendall got to pitch jokes to the writing staffs of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.” Mark performs comedy in Atlanta at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company and Highwire Comedy, and also teaches improv and sketch writing. He is currently touring with his one man show “The Magic Negro and Other Blackity Blackness”, a sketch show that examines the depiction of black men in the media. For his work with the show, Kendall was named “Best Professional Funny Man” by Creative Loafing Atlanta.

About Theater at The Woodland
Midtown Direct Rep’s Theater at The Woodland is a series of readings of new plays and musicals in development, presented at The Woodland, right in the center of Maplewood Village. The readings include lively post-show discussions with the cast and creative team, fostering a fun and collaborative environment that allows the audience to be a part of the development of vital new works. Many of the works presented by this reading series have gone on to major productions off-Broadway, in regional theaters, and beyond.

About Midtown Direct Rep

Midtown Direct Rep (MDR), the resident theater company of The Woodland in Maplewood, NJ, is a professional, ensemble-based theater company of over 100 working Broadway actors and theater professionals who call South Orange and Maplewood home. Midtown Direct Rep is dedicated to developing and presenting new plays and musicals focusing on work that reflects our diverse community. Midtown Direct Rep is also the local presenter of the hugely successful event Listen to Your Mother, which showcases local writers and performers each year around Mother’s Day. Company members include two-time Tony Award-winner Norbert Leo Butz, Tony Award-winner Michele Pawk, Tony Award-nominees Stephanie J. Block, Megan Lawrence, and Christiane Noll, plus Sebastian Arcelus, Joel de la Fuente, Bradley Dean, and many others. Guest actors have included James McDonald, Michelle Hurst, Geoffrey Arend, and Academy Award®-winner Olympia Dukakis.  Recent projects include work by Matt Schatz, Kate Moira Ryan, Y York, Jack Canfora, Peter Flaherty, Jeremy Desmon, Chad Hardin, James Hindman, Chisa Hutchison, David Johnston, Kait Kerrigan, Kara Lee Korthron, David Myers, Sandy Rustin, John Walch, Douglas J. Cohen, Zoe Samuel, and others. The Company is led by Artistic Producer Steven Tabakin, Artistic Associate Marni Raab, and Artistic Advisor Sandy Rustin. For more information, visit http://www.middirrep.org.

This program is made possible in part by funds from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts/ Department of State, a partner agency of the National Endowment for the Arts and administered by the Essex County Division of Cultural and Historic Affairs.


Artistic Producer
Steven Tabakin

Artistic Associate
Marni Raab

Artistic Advisor
Sandy Rustin

Resident Casting Director
Gayle Seay

Ondine Landa Abramson (Chair)
Paul Bartick
Evan Fleischer
Matthew Lefferts
Budd Mishkin

Chair of Membership Committee
Vanessa Pollock

Emeritus Artistic Directors
Jeremy Dobrish
Sandy Rustin


Hawley Abelow
Rick Adams
Maki Amemiya
Sebastian Arcelus
Jenny Bacon
Stephen Barker Turner
Julie Barnes
Emily Bauer
Jeremy Beck
Robbie Berry
Jessamyn Blakeslee
Stephanie J. Block
Eli Bolin
Ron Bohmer
D.B. Bonds
Catherine Brunell
Norbert Leo Butz
Julie Campbell
Kristin Carbone
Matt Castle
Mindy Catron
Miguel Cervantes
Doreen Chila
Dwayne Clark
Janeece Freeman Clark
John Cramer
Amy Merlino Coey
Brian Corrigan
Natalie Cortez
Adam Dannheisser
Diane Davis
Kate Dawson
Joel de la Fuente
Bradley Dean
Jeremy Dobrish
Bob Dusold
Maria Eberline
Michelle Federer
Vadim Feichtner
Danielle Ferland
Jim Ferris
Evan Fleischer
Kate Fodor
George Forbes
Dina Friedler
Frank Galgano
Maury Ginsberg
Heather Fine Grinspan
Mitch Greenberg
Mandy Gonzalez
Becky Gulsvig
Jenny Turner Hall
Julia Haubner
David Hess
Joan Hess
Suzanne Hevner
Steve Hogle
Stacey Todd Holt
Lily Hung
Casey Hushion
David Josefsberg
Kevin Kern
Marc Kessler
Kevin Kraft
Garth Kravits
Leslie Kritzer
Stephanie Kurtzuba
Jeff Larkin
Jamie Laverdiere
Megan Lawrence
Aaron Lazar
Mark Ledbetter
John Leone
Erin Maguire
Beth McCourt
Sean McCourt
Scott McGowan
Adrienne McKeown
Christiane Noll
Gregory Omar Osborne
Bethany Pettigrew
Jeff Parvin
Vanessa Parvin
Michele Pawk
Michael Perilstein
Christoper Mark Peterson
Charlie Pollock
Allison Posner
Vanessa Pollock
Marni Raab
Richard Rauscher
Matt Ramsey
Holly Raye
Chuck Rea
Peter Reader
Nikki Rene
Josephine Roberts
Roger Rosen
Emily Rozek
Sandy Rustin
Gayle Seay
Scott Seay
Matt Servitto
Robert Shaffron
Bev Sheehan
Abby Sher
Matthew Shepard Smith
Jeffrey Shubart
Corey Skaggs
David Spangenthal
Michael St. John
Cat Tate Starmer
Molly Stuart
John Steber
Ben Steinfeld
Antonio Suarez
Steven Tabakin
Michelle Tattenbaum
Jen Taylor
Marcy Thompson
Nicole Van Giesen
Elizabeth Ward Land
Tim Welch
Elizabeth Welch
LaVon Fisher Wilson
Terrence Witter
Denise Payne Worley
Kevin Worley
Matt Yeager
Joanna Young
Meg Zervoulis

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