Obama-Ology

by Aurin Squire

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 30 November, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 December 2014

“I am black enough to get stopped by the police, and I’m sure as hell black enough to work on a campaign for the first African American who has a chance at being the leader of the free world.”

The European premiere

★★★★ Four Stars, The Public Reviews
★★★★ Four Stars, Everything Theatre

Discovered by the Finborough Theatre and part of its 20 Premieres season, the European premiere of Obama-ology , the European full-length debut of multi-award-winning American playwright Aurin Squire.

When African-American college graduate Warren takes a job with the 2008 Obama campaign, he’s fired up and ready to go – until he lands in the troubled streets of East Cleveland. But somewhere between knocking on doors, fending off cops, and questioning his own racial and sexual identity, he learns that changing society isn’t as easy as he imagined…

Obama-ology is a compelling journey into the lives of the black minority of East Cleveland. This invisible underclass – despondent after a lifetime of presidential campaigns with only the educated, white candidate to represent them – have the flame of hope reignited by a passionate young man canvassing for Obama. A stunning new play that demonstrates the resilience of the human spirit to overcome defeat at the hands of social repression and financial hardship.

Recently produced in the United States at the world renowned Julliard School in New York, Obama-ology marks the European full-length debut of a stunning new African-American playwright.

About Playwright Aurin Squire

Playwright Aurin Squire is a New York playwright, producer and artist/activist. In 2014-2015, he has playwriting fellowships at the Brooklyn Arts Exchange, National Black Theatre and the Dramatists Guild of America. His plays include The Great Black Sambo Machine (Lincoln Centre Lab and Ars Nova), Defacing Michael Jackson (Nuyorican Poets Café workshop), To Whom It May Concern (Abingdon Theatre and ArcLight Theatre productions), African Americana (Theatre 503). Last year his drama Freefalling (Barrington Stages) won the Fiat Lux Prize from the New York Catholic Church as well as first prize in the InspiraTO Theatre International Play Festival in Toronto in Spring 2014. As a part of pro-democracy activism at Ensemble Free Theatre of Norway and Belarus Dream Theatre, his drama Article 119-1 premiered simultaneously around the world in various cities including Vancouver, Oslo, Los Angeles and Florence. Squire also writes and produces multimedia and web video including writing the installation art film Dreams of Freedom, which won three National Museum prizes and is in the permanent exhibit at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

About Director Tommo Fowler

Director Tommo Fowler returns to the Finborough Theatre where he was Assistant Director of Sommer 14: A Dance of Death. Trained with Living Pictures and on the Short Course at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. Direction includes Vesting Day (Southwark Playhouse), a rehearsed reading of Wake (English Touring Theatre Studios), The [Accidental] Execution of Alan Bishop (Pleasance London), Porcelain, Just Say No (Theatre503), Multiple Choice (Lost Theatre), Taketh (Take Courage Theatre, New Cross) and Extremely Brief and Violent (Royal Academy of Dramatic Art). Forthcoming productions include Monster Party (Arcola Theatre) and The Repast (Theatre503). Assistant Direction includes Handel Furioso (Arcola Theatre and National Tour), Rainbow, winner of a Fringe First Award (Edinburgh Festival) and Mojo Mickybo (Old Red Lion Theatre). Dramaturgy includes No Border, an intranational verbatim theatre project. Tommo is currently Development Associate at ABG Productions, a Reader for Theatre503 and Project Manager for Living Pictures.

The Press on Playwright Aurin Squire

"Refreshingly clever.” New York Times on Matthew Takes Manhattan
"An engaging and provocative new drama that allows us to walk in some other fellows' shoes for a couple of hours, yielding significant insights along the way.” Martin Denton, NY Theatre on To Whom it May Concern
"The primary delight of the evening is the script itself….a thoroughly entertaining evening with resounding implications.” Showbusiness Weekly on To Whom it May Concern
"Defacing Michael Jackson sends a powerful message in a sophisticated and tender way…genuine and piercing." Maxamoo on Defacing Michael Jackson
"The work confronts some of the heaviest issues in American life - racism, sexuality, sexism, politics, poverty - while achieving not a trivializing lightness, but a lightness that reminds us that humor can equal survival when trying to wade through these waters.” Culturadar on Defacing Michael Jackson
"Aurin Squire’s very personal and moving play.” Matthew Paul Olmos, New York Theatre Review on Defacing Michael Jackson

The Press on Obama-Ology

★★★★ Four Stars, The Public Reviews
★★★★ Four Stars, Everything Theatre

“I don't know if it's very good or very bad timing that Aurin Squire's play Obama-ology makes its UK debut just as Obama's presidency looks likely to end on a whimper; probably the former” Nick, Partially Obstructed View

“As the frustrating difficulty of making real change is one of the major themes of a story that takes place during his first presidential election campaign.” Nick, Partially Obstructed View

“One area where Obama-ology certainly feels topical is in the recurring theme of the police as an unpredictable and dangerous force who will stop and possibly attack anyone they like, particularly if they're black.” Nick, Partially Obstructed View

“A fine play about politicking US style written by an African-American whose work has not previously been seen in Europe.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“A really enjoyable evening.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Laugh out loud, cry, and contemplate some challenging socio-political issues. Obama-ology is well worth a watch.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“A highly topical piece of theatre. As protest continues in Ferguson after the shooting of Michael Brown by a white police officer, it is ever more important that we push stark examinations of police relations with black communities into the popular sphere.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“A thoroughly enjoyable production. The venue sits above the very pleasant Finborough Arms. It’s always nice to pay pub prices for a drink while you watch the show!” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“See this play. This production. Both are miraculous.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“The story of campaigners working for Barack Obama to become US President in 2008.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Both political and intensely human.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“The whole piece, so vividly played, might hopefully retain the American Dream. But it does so with a wide-awake sense of reality.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Squire’s smart and incisive dialogue.” Stephen Bates, The Public Reviews

“The evening is a resounding success thanks to a lively script that leavens the serious issues with apt humour, a series of gripping episodes and the efforts of a well-drilled and more than capable cast that is completed by Katherine Newman, Amanda Wright and Peter Caulfield, all of whom switch effortlessly between numerous roles.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“There’s some of the funniest material between highly-educated politicos and working-class locals since the canvassing sequence in Dennis Potter’s 1965 TV play Vote, Vote, Vote, For Nigel Barton.”  Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“As Warren, Edward Dede takes centre stage for much of the play and holds this production together.” Stephen Bates, The Public Reviews

“Ranging from a comic figure of wide-eyed innocence to a passionate advocate for self-improvement, he gives a commanding performance.” Stephen Bates, The Public Reviews

“Peter Caulfield, Katherine Newman and Amanda Wright are all excellent.” Stephen Bates, The Public Reviews

“The uniformly strong cast.” Nick, Partially Obstructed View

“Pearl Mackie, who is a star in the making, imbues this clichéd character with rich humanity, breaking off for a further cameo as in-your-face Caits to confirm her virtuosity.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“The ensemble are also terrific, particularly Pearl Mackie as Cece and Caits, two young women finding their voice.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Performances are strong throughout the play.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“Peter Caulfield, Pearl Mackie, Katherine Newman and Amanda Wright give high-energy portrayals of campaign instructors, generating a manic election atmosphere.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“Mackie also gives a stand-out performance as Cece.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

“Edward Dede has all the naive young graduate’s empty optimism, up against the scepticism of seasoned Black campaigner Barbara.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Pearl Mackie’s performance is so completely conceived it’s hard to recognise her also as the sharp-edged Caits.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Amanda Wright brings a calm, authoritative dignity to the scene, contrasting her sophisticatedly practical Barbara.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“Tommo Fowler matches this by giving us a fast flowing production in which comedy, suspense and high emotion are delivered with equal confidence.” Stephen Bates, The Public Reviews

“A versatile cast of six under the sure direction of Tommo Fowler.” Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

“An entertaining insight into how hard it is to effect real change, and how political campaigns say they value people but are only interested in votes. Tommo Fowler’s production has plenty of dash.” Lyn Gardner, The Guardian

“Tommo Fowler’s production, which no director could better in its liveliness, ability to create group excitement one moment, intense personalangst another and show the energy of campaigning.” Timothy Ramsden, Reviews Gate

“It's entertaining and slickly staged by Fowler and his cast.” Nick, Partially Obstructed View

“Quality production scripts are available, which is always a plus.” Hannah Blyth, Everything Theatre

Sundays, Mondays and Tuesdays 30 November, 1, 2, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15 and 16 December 2014

Tickets and Times

Monday 7:30pm
Tuesday 2:00pm
Sunday 7:30pm

Approximately 2 hours with one interval