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‘East Texas Hot Links’ Opens at the Jbt, Feb. 17


Although the setting may be East Texas in 1955, the message of “East Texas Hot Links” transcends a specific time and place, as applicable today as in the mid 20th century. Written by Eugene Lee, the play's title is derived from the reflection of Adolph, a blind laborer who regularly delivers jugs of corn liquor to the cafe. "Everything needs something to die so it can keep on livin'," he points out. "We all a part of it. Links . . . in the food chain."

Playwright Eugene Lee also directs the John Beasley Theater’s production, set to run February 17 through March 11. The 90-minute one act play is set in the pre-integration South, where eight poor, black rural Texans visit a favorite haunt, a dusty backwoods bar called Top o’ the Hill Café, a café specifically denoted “For Coloreds Only.” In the course of the play, a combustible situation simmers to its inevitable explosion.

"East Texas Hot Links" is a kinetic, ruthless portrayal of self-interest and betrayal. Lee sees the lessons closer to home. "It parallels what's going on in the black community with gangs," he said. "It's very destructive. It kills itself, kills its culture, kills its family. It's self-inflicted genocide." Yet he shies away from indicting his characters. "They've found a means to be nourished, and often that nourishment is themselves. They're eagles who've learned to soar in their cages--with dignity and pride."

The JBT production features a cast of returning actors and new faces. Audiences will be delighted to see Tyrone Beasley, Carl Brooks and TammyRa’ back on the stage. The show is produced by Mark O’Leary, set design by Wes Clowers. As playwright and director, Lee guides each actor to become the character he intends to portray.

The artist-in-residence at Texas State University, Lee runs the Zach Scott Theater for the Performing Arts in Austin, Tex. His list of credits as an actor include television shows, movies and theater productions. Lee spent three years with New York's Negro Ensemble Company and was in the original cast of the Pulitzer Prize-winning drama "A Soldier's Play." (See full bio below; photo available on request. Call 402-598-7600 to arrange interviews.)

Ticket prices for “East Texas Hot Links” are $27 adults; $22 seniors, students and TAG members; $16 all seats on Thursdays. Group tickets prices available by calling 402-502-5767.

“Demonstrates how cheering a play can be without necessarily being upbeat…. It has been written with a sense of life and with such craft ... that you’re likely to walk out at the end feeling better for the sad events just witnessed” ~ N.Y. Times


EUGENE LEE’s career as an actor goes back as far as a command performance of a University Drama department production of “A Raisin in The Sun” for President Lyndon Johnson on his Texas ranch in 1972 and television episodes of, “Dallas”,  “Good Times”, “The White Shadow”, “The Guiding Light”, playing coroner Hud Sanders on “The District”, the mini- series, “The Women of Brewster Place” with Oprah Winfrey, “The Jackson Five: An American Dream” and recent features “Blacklisted”, and  “Coach Carter”.  On the professional stage as far back as the original cast of Pulitzer Prize winning “A Soldier’s Play” by Charles Fuller with the Negro Ensemble Company to a Broadway appearance in August Wilson’s “Gem of the Ocean”.  Including the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. (2008) performing in 5 of the 10 August Wilson Century of plays and Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre production of August Wilson’s “Two Trains Running”.  Boston’s Huntington Theatre’s Fall ‘09 production of “Fences” and the Fall ’10 world premiere of Marcus Gardley’s “every tongue confess” at Arena Stage in D.C.  Other Negro Ensemble Company appearances include, Samm Art William’s “Home”, Ray Araanha’s “Sons and Fathers of Sons” and Gus Edwards, “Manhattan Made Me”.  He was Sterling in Boston’s Huntington Theatre’s staging of “Radio Golf” and Eli in their Broadway bound production of “Gem of The Ocean” as well as the True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta productions of August Wilson’s “Fences”, Lonne Elder’s “Ceremonies in Dark Old Men” and “Miss Evers’ Boys”. He has also created characters on the page as playwright with, “East Texas Hot Links”, “Fear Itself”, “Somebody Called: A Tale of Two Preachers”, “Killingsworth”, the latest “Lyin’ Ass” takes a look at one of the first Black female Texas Rangers as she is about to retire and the musical “Twist” plus episodes for television series including “Homicide:  Life on the Streets”, “Walker Texas Ranger”, “Michael Hayes”, “The Turks” and “The Journey of Allen Strange”.  Mr. Lee serves as Artist in Residence and Artistic Director of the Texas State University Black and Latino Playwright’s Conference.  Most recently at Texas State playing Jaques in Shakespeare’s “As You Like It” and onstage in Austin, Texas’ Zachary Scott Theatre production of  “The Book of Grace” written and directed by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan Lori-Parks. Mr. Lee recently wrapped shooting the Independent Feature “Wolf” on location in San Antonio, Texas and is in rehearsals at Austin’s Zach Scott Theatre for a November 4th, 2011 opening of “God of Carnage”.




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