‘Savior Samuel’ is Onstage at Pittsburgh Playwrights; The Playhouse Staging ‘The Old Man and the Sea’ (Sun., 2/10/11)

1) Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company presents a new play by Mark Clayton Southers, the company’s founder and artistic director. Savior Samuel is a tale with spiritual (and perhaps supernatural) overtones, revolving around a family of African-American homesteaders in the Midwest during the 1870s. It’s the second recent play by Southers that deals with African Americans in the 19th century. His previous, Miss Julie, Clarissa and John, was a sly re-working of August Strindberg’s Miss Julie. Critics and audiences loved that one, so expectations are high for Savior Samuel. The cast includes Wali Jamal, Cheryl El-Walker, Jonathan Berry, and others. In the Trust Arts Education Center. 3 p.m. preview and talk back. Continues through March 16. 805 Liberty Ave., Cultural District. (MV)

2) In a world premiere at Pittsburgh Playhouse, Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea becomes a theater production that you might call “The Old Man and the Play.” Writer A.E. Hotchner, a friend of the late Hemingway and now 101, took charge of adapting the novella for the stage. (Hotchner’s son Tim, also a writer, assisted.) The play hews closely to Hemingway’s spare but symbol-laden plot. An old Cuban fisherman, scorned by neighbors for losing his mojo, goes out to sea to prove them wrong. He battles and reels in a huge marlin. Then, with the prize lashed aside his small boat, he must battle the sharks that come swarming for their shares. The play uses multimedia to help simulate the action. It also marks a new mode of collaboration, as Point Park University, owner of the Playhouse, teamed with RWS Entertainment of New York to produce it. More professional productions with other partners are planned. Anthony Crivello plays the fisherman in The Old Man and the Sea, and Playhouse Artistic Director Ronald Allan-Lindblom directs. In the Highmark Theatre at Pittsburgh Playhouse. 2 p.m. Performances run through February 17. The entire run is sold out. 350 Forbes Ave., Downtown. (MV)

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Rick Handler

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