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Anacostia Playhouse Gets Its Inaugural Production in Theater Alliance’s “Broke-ology”

The company presents the first local staging of Nathan Louis Jackson’s play about a family struggling to stay connected.

Photograph by Joseph Moran.

Broke-ology marks a number of firsts for the
local theater scene: It’s the first full play produced in the Anacostia
Playhouse, the first play presented east of the Anacostia River by Theater
Alliance, and the first area staging of a drama by Nathan Louis
whose work has been gathering acclaim since
Broke-ology played at New York’s Lincoln Center in 2009. Theater
Alliance artistic director Colin Hovde, on record as
saying he’s no fan of “kitchen-sink dramas,” has made an exception for
Broke-ology, which even features a kitchen sink in the set. “The play is
naturalistic,” Hovde says, “but it’s in the spirit of Tennessee Williams,
August Wilson, and Eugene O’Neill. It has magical elements but is really
about family and people.”

Running August 16 through September 8, Broke-ology is about a
father and his two sons who are struggling to support one another after
the father’s health fails. The elder son, who has a blue-collar job,
expounds on his theory of “broke-ology,” the complex science of being
broke. His younger brother returns home following his postgrad studies to
find his family resenting his absence. “It’s a powerful story that deals
with issues that are relevant to the community of Anacostia, but it is in
no way didactic or presumptuous,” Hovde says. “For me, having it be the
first Theater Alliance play in Anacostia is about opening a dialogue and
beginning a relationship.”

For more than a decade, Theater Alliance was based at Northeast
DC’s H Street Playhouse, which moved to Anacostia after rents priced it
out of the neighborhood. The company hopes to maintain a presence in the
Capitol Hill area while presenting works in its new location.
Broke-ology’s cast and crew include Howard alums G.
Alverez Reid and Marlon Russ as the
father and one of his sons, Helen Hayes Award-winning costume designer
Reggie Ray, and New York director Candace

Says Hovde: “One of the things I love about Nathan is that as a
black writer, he doesn’t write black plays—he writes plays. Broke-ology
presents a beautiful picture of a family that happens to be black, but he
doesn’t make that the central concern. His is a strong way to approach
storytelling and a voice that needs to be heard.”

Broke-ology. August 16 to September 8 at Theater Alliance. Tickets ($25) at

This article appears in the August 2013 issue of The Washingtonian.