The Studio@620 presents the premiere of “Keesha/Carpenter” by Mark E. Leib, Directed by Bob Devin Jones. The play focuses on brilliant African American student Keesha and her acclaimed white teacher of political philosophy, Professor Carpenter. As Keesha and Carpenter develop a relationship – and as Keesha becomes romantically involved with Carpenter’s graduate assistant Andrew – the element of race becomes more and more troubling – and important. Featuring a cast of amazing local talents including Jai Shanae, Chris Rutherford, and Bob Heitman.
Synopsis of the play:
When brilliant African American student Keesha first meets white Professor Carpenter, she’s excited by the prospect of learning political philosophy from the famous (and intimidating) older man. But as she comes to know him, she begins to wonder if he’s a racist, actively working to thwart her academic and political ambitions. This interpretation is ratified by Andrew, Professor Carpenter’s graduate assistant, who intends to exploit his celebrated boss on the way to making a career of his own. But Andrew is also aware of a private tragedy unfolding in Carpenter’s life, and he makes this supposedly private distress known to compassionate Keesha. As Keesha and Andrew become romantically involved, the question of Carpenter’s motives becomes increasingly a raw one. Finally, it’s clear what Carpenter believes – and what Keesha may hope.
About the Playwright:
Mark E. Leib has been theater critic for Creative Loafing in Tampa Bay since 1998. His criticism has won seven awards from the Society of Professional Journalists, including three first-place statewide Sunshine State Awards for Critical Writing. Leib is also a playwright whose plays and adaptations have been produced at the Players Theatre in Greenwich Village (Art People), the Manhattan Punch Line (Terry by Terry), the American Repertory Theatre (Terry by Terry and adaptations of The Marriage of Figaro, and Platonov) at the Studio@620 (American Duet) and atTampa’s Stageworks (The Funny Thing Is, I Still Love This Place). His play The Return to Zion was chosen for a staged reading at the Southern New Plays Festival at New Orleans’ Southern Rep, and his play Tongue was a winner in the short play festival at Florida Studio Theatre. Leib is a Continuing Instructor at the University of South Florida’s English Department. He was the first playwriting lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Theatre Study at Harvard University, and taught playwriting and various drama survey courses for Harvard Extension School from 1981-1990. He received his BA in Government magna cum laude from Harvard College, where he was president and poetry editor of the literary magazine The Harvard Advocate, and his MFA in Playwriting from the Yale School of Drama, where he won the CBS Foundation Prize in Playwriting