Uzo Aduba on his return to Broadway in the new play “Clyde’s”: “This is my cornerstone”
It’s just a few days before Uzo Aduba begins rehearsals for “Clyde’s,” a new Broadway production from the writer lynn nottage and director Kate Whoriskey.
In the play, Aduba plays the role of Clyde, the owner of a sandwich shop with truck stops occupied by formerly incarcerated people. “Clyde’s”, with a cast that also includes Ron Cephas Jones, Reza Salazar, Young kara and Edmond Donovan, is scheduled to open at Second Stage’s Hayes Theater on November 23. Previews start in less than a month, which feels like a lifetime when planning live entertainment during a pandemic.
âWhen you’re on Broadway the question that always comes up over your head is how long before we’re told we’re going to close? Aduba tells me over the phone from her home in the New York area. “I’ve never been on a show where it was ‘Shall we even open?’ because the drama is happening so behind the scenes, there is a character bigger than any of us at play here that makes it feel like this is all built on shaky ground.
But Aduba hopes “Clyde’s” goes off without a hitch. âI am an optimist in my heart and in my mind,â she says. The play marks the actor’s return to the New York scene after his Off Broadway appearance in “Venice” to Audiences about eight years ago: “My team and I have been looking for something for a long time because it’s my corner stone.”
But Hollywood came to call her soon after “Venice” closed, and her star rose quickly with the premiere of “Orange Is the New Black” in 2013. Aduba’s work as Suzanne “Crazy Eyes Warren won her two Emmys, and last year she scored another win for her portrayal of politician and activist Shirley Chisholm in ‘Mrs. America. âMost recently, she directed and was Emmy nominated for HBO’s cover ofâ In Treatment âas a therapist juggling her own life and the lives of her patients.
She signed for “Clyde’s” in the spring. In mid-September, the producers released a photo of Aduba’s character. She is standing in an industrial kitchen. Her hair is as tall as it is long. She wears large gold hoops as well as several rings and a necklace that says “DAMN”. She holds a kitchen knife as if using it to file her long blood-red fingernails. âClyde is a woman who is just trying to be successful,â Aduba says. “She’ll tear your eyes out if she does.” But not for your destruction, but for its own preservation. â¦ That’s the only thing she knows is how to survive.
Broadway also knows how to survive. âThis community is resilient, strong and resourceful,â says Aduba, âand we do everything to make sure that not only the cast, team and staff are safe, but the audience is also safe. “
Aduba expects a flood of emotions on opening night. âI’m a mourner,â she says. “I can feel it already.”
She adds, laughing, “I’m going to use Clyde’s fingernails to catch the tears.”
For now, she can’t wait to be back in New York’s Theater District, which she and her friends call “campus.”
âWe call the first day of rehearsal the first day of school for a reason,â says Aduba. “We’re in our sweatpants rolling on the floor, voting for who’s gonna be the fairness mp [the liaison between the cast and the Actorsâ Equity Assn.], determine if you want to have a 20-minute lunch or an hour-long break.
When the performances begin, on both days of the show, “you and your cast decide whether you are going to have lunch in the lobby or upstairs in your room or maybe go somewhere around the corner and have some sushi”, she says.
âThe theater is my family,â continues Aduba. âHe was the one who fed me and paid my rent, who insured me and allowed me to flourish artistically. They were and are the people who kept telling me to keep going.
The same can now be said about Broadway – keep it up!
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