|Maya Burton (far left) and Lexi Chipman (left) with the 2016/17 cast of Raisins: Brandon Haugabook, Amber Tanaka, Sherif Amin, and Marco Voli. Photo: Makena Gadient, courtesy of Live Girls! Theater.|
Seattle actors, directors, and teaching artists Lexi Chipman and Maya Burton first developed Raisins, based on interviews with artists of color working in theater, during their final year at Cornish. The work was restaged for Cornish Presents, the college’s visiting and professional artists series, in the summer of 2016 at the Alhadeff Studio. It was quickly followed by a successful production at 18th and Union in February 2017 which The Seattle Weekly praised as “deeply humanizing and poetic.”
The 2019 show, crafted from new stories, tackles the same issues but with an empowered all female cast. As directed by Burton and Chipman, Raisins 2019 puts the fight for inclusion and representation centerstage.
“Live Girls! Theater has been empowering female theater makers for nearly 20 years,” said Burton and Chipman in a statement released about the new show. “The company is not only a staple to Seattle fringe theater but LG! rivals many of the larger houses in the movement for equity and inclusion in regards to femme bodies on and off stage. LG! Creates the kind of work we want to see. We are excited to begin this partnership that we know will last long after closing night.” Live Girls Theatre is led by another Cornish alum, Meghan Arnette ‘98.
In the current version, Burton and Chipman drew from 250 pages of candid interviews from artists of color from around the country to craft a script centered around six multidimensional women with six different backgrounds and six distinct points of view. These women of color will be confronted with the question: “How can we dismantle white supremacy in the American theater?” In trying to find the answer they will walk to the edge of what is civil to find what is right.
Raisins 2019 will be performed at Taproot Theatre’s Isaac Studio at 204 N. 85th St. in Seattle, February 14 through 17. Tickets for this show are currently available at Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. The 2019 cast is Francesca Betancourt, Chrysanthemum Binayug, Aviona Rodriguez-Brown, Jasmine Lomax, Arika Matoba, and Mimi Santos.
“These artists remind us of an incredible truth in their work. To be remarkable. Raisins offers a necessary conversation on the ways we show up for each other; defying the norms and leading the pack. Funny, smart, and inviting, I will watch in awe at the long careers of this group of artists,” said Courtney Sale ‘01, Artistic Director of Seattle Children’s Theater.
A version of the story originally appeared in a different publication and is reprinted with permission here.