Monday, July 1, 2013
NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Dr. Andrew Ade, Westminster College associate professor of English, has written a play that will be staged July 25, 27 and 28 at the Midtown International Theater Festival in New York City.
Ade's play, A Question of Taste, follows the story of two African men of different generations who, although fighting the same cause of removing a ruthless dictator, engage in an ideological struggle that comes to tragic ends for themselves and for their people.
The hour-long, one-act play premiered at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theater Company's 2007 Theater Festival in Black & White, where it won four awards, including Best Play. It later won the 2009 Arts & Letters Prize in Drama and was published in the spring 2010 issue of Arts & Letters: Journal of Contemporary Culture. It now heads to the Midtown International Theater Festival, a self-producing festival in which invited participants produce the shows while the festival provides the venues. Participants are also responsible for their own promotion and fundraising campaign.
"It has been wonderful to see it published," Ade said. "And now to have it done in New York is going to be quite a thrill."
Ade's script was inspired by figures and events in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the country formally known as Zaïre, run by the notorious despot Mobutu Sese Seko. Ade was a firsthand witness to the oppression maintained by the dictatorship. He lived and worked there as a Peace Corps volunteer teacher after college, and closely followed the nation's subsequent turmoil of civil war after his return.
"The combination of the experiences I had while living there of the abuses of the system of the dictator made me very conscious of how despotic politics work. Leaving that country and having it fall into even greater chaos was very sad for me," Ade said. "I knew I wanted to write somehow about my experience, and because I was leaning toward the theater in terms of creative writing, I thought I could reach more people, and in a more profound way, by doing it on stage."
Ade continued, "I also wanted to create roles that African-American actors could play, because American theater doesn't have enough in terms of the canon of work for African Americans. I desperately wanted to do something to bring more roles to that community, because they are fantastic and I knew they would do tremendous work with it. So my desire was to do something for the theater community, but also to raise the issue to the audience about the chaos that comes from political overthrow in Africa and maybe give them an understanding of why it happens."
Participating in the New York festival is only one of Ade's many honors. Ade's one-act play, Language Barrier, also earned Best Play honors in the PPTC's Theatre Festival in Black and White in 2010, making him that festival's only two-time winner. For the 2011 Pittsburgh New Works Festival, his play Off-Color Remarks was one of 12 new scripts chosen for production from a field of more than 100 national submissions, and was ultimately one of three finalists for the festival's Outstanding Playwright Award. That honor went to Westminster graduate F.J. Hartland '80 for his play Funeral in the Rain.
Ade also recently received the "Spotlight Award" for his latest play Reports of a Home Invasion, produced at the Old Opera House during the 2013 New Voice Play Festival in Charles Town, W. Va. It was selected, along with only three other works, from 85 plays submitted across the country.
Ade, who has been with Westminster since 2003, earned an undergraduate degree from Northwestern University and master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Contact Ade at (724) 946-7349 or email for additional information.