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A Performance Reading of James McBride's The Color of Water


June 28, 2014

From the Novel by James McBride

The Color of Water: A Black Man’s Tribute to his White Mother

A 70-minute performance reading by Debbie Starker and David Houston.

In the style of radio drama, with jazz and traditional background music.

Adapted and directed by David Houston.

James McBride had been a journalist for eight years when at age 30, he quit his job as a Washington Post feature writer and moved to New York to pursue his first love: music.  He taught ESL to Polish refugees and played wedding gigs on Long Island. He was touring on tenor sax with jazzman Jimmy Scott when he began writing The Color of Water.  He wrote in hotel rooms, vans, airports and buses. While struggling through "unsettled angst" he came to realize that the key to his search lay in the story of the most interesting person he'd ever known—and the person he loved most—his mother.  He set about interviewing Ruth McBride Jordan and searching out her mysterious past, a process that took 14 years and resulted in a book that is now considered a landmark and an American classic.  

This  presentation employs McBride’s words to paint an indelible portrait of that amazing woman – an abused immigrant orthodox Jew, co-founder of a Baptist church, the mother of twelve accomplished black children.

 Debbie Starker (Ruth McBride Jordan)—In her lengthy LI Theater career, Debbie has experienced every aspect of production from director to performer to stage manger to props mistress. She has also appeared in independent films and commercials. In 2000, she founded Deb’s Web, her LI theater web site/newsletter and maintains where anyone interested in the performing arts on LI can find out virtually anything that has to do with theater in the area. In 2005, Debbie was honored for “Outstanding Contribution to the Long Island Theater Community” and was featured in a 4-page article/picture spread in Newsday. Some of her favorite acting credits include: Fraulein Schneider/Cabaret, Bloody Mary/South Pacific, Mother Superior/Nunsense, Mother Miriam Ruth/Agnes of God, Golde/Fiddler, and The Ghost of Christmas Present/A Christmas Carol 
(more than 200 performances). Some of her favorite directorial credits include:Carousel, Visiting Mr. Green, Rumors, Witness for the Prosecution, H.M.S. Pinafore, The Pirates of Penzance, The Bermuda Avenue Triangle, Father of the Bride, Fame, Pippin, Peter Pan.

David Houston (narration; adaptation and direction)—has appeared in leading roles in scores of plays and musicals, including Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Mayor Shinn in The Music Man, Senex in A Funny Thing Happened, Ben in Death of a Salesman, Herr Shultz inCabaret and Horace Giddens in The Little Foxes.  He is a published and produced writer of fiction and non-fiction.  His original hour-long plays,Lillie Alone, The Dickens!, Mark Twain: Telling Tales, Great Scott and Zelda, Murder and Madness and Poe, Jazz Baby Joan, Let's Do It!, Walt Whitman To Begin With and The Ghost of Dorothy Parker have been seen at a number of Long Island libraries.  His Joan Crawford biographyJazz Baby (St. Martin's Press) was optioned for movie production, as was his mystery novel Shadows on the Moon (Leisure Books).  His "dramatic readings in the style of radio drama" presented at Long Island libraries include Pete Hamill's Snow in August, the Sherlock Holmes novel Study in Scarlet, Steinbeck's Travels with Charley, Mark Mills's Amagansett, Three Short Stories by I.B. Singer, and Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451.


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