“Wine in the Wilderness” Brings the Discussion of Black Womanhood to the Stage

Published On March 9, 2015 | By Zoe Hannah | The Arts
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Photo Credit: Demaskus Theater Collective

Shaunda Miles, founder of Demaskus Theater Collective, is bringing Alice Childress’s “Wine in the Wilderness” to Pittsburgh, inviting to the stage a compelling narrative about race constructs.

The play, set during the race riots in Harlem, New York, follows an artist who is working on a triptych about Black womanhood. As he struggles to complete the final panel, his muse deconstructs conceptions of race and womanhood. The muse begins a discussion that fundamentally changes the artist’s work.

The narrative centers around the artist’s attempts to find a third woman to model for the last panel of his triptych, but he and his friends have a predisposed idea of what she should and does represent. Tommy, the woman he hopes to paint, ceaselessly exhibits strength, dignity, and pride in her race and gender.

Childress, writer of the first play that was professionally produced by a Black woman on the American stage, is a legendary playwright and author. “Wine in the Wilderness,” written in 1969, is her most recent and final play.

Miles is a New York native and now writes poetry, produces theater projects, and works in Pittsburgh. A graduate of Dartmouth and Yale, the artist often writes about race, women, and life. She and the rest of Demaskus hope to “make known the messages of the marginalized through quality theatrical productions and presentations.”

Demaskus was founded by Miles in 2006 and works to compose productions (like “Wine in the Wilderness”), create multicultural curricula for education purposes, and help to write and produce theater projects in the Pittsburgh community.

“Wine in the Wilderness” debuts March 12 and runs through March 15. Showtimes are at 7PM, March 12-14, and at 3PM on March 15. Tickets are $20 ($30 on opening night) and are now available to be purchased.

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