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Spunk is playwright George C. Wolfe's brilliant adaptation of three short stories by the late Zora Neale Hurston

[[image - stage scene, a man and two women, the man is whipping a woman dressed as a slave]]
[[image - stage scene, 3 men and two women sitting on stage]]
[[image - stage scene, a man and a women, the man plays a guitar]]
Photos by Martha Swope
[[caption]] [[three]] Scenes from Spunk, currently playing at NY Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre [[/caption]]
The renewed interest in the works of Zora Neale Hurston (circa 1901-1960), known as the "Queen of the Harlem Renaissance," has inspired a fascinating theatrical event called Spunk at New York Shakespeare Festival's Public Theatre. Playwright George C. Wolfe, author of the acclaimed play The Colored Museum, has adapted and directed three tales from the Hurston canon and fashioned them into a sort of black Canterbury Tales.

To set the project in motion, Wolfe has wisely chosen two superlative artists, guitarist Chic Street Man and blues singer Ann Duquesnay, to serve as musical narrators for the three stories about to be told. The first one, "Sweat," is based on a tale published posthumously in 1979 in a Hurston anthology called I Love Myself When I'm Laughing… and Then Again When I'm Looking Mean and Impressive. It concerns a Florida washerwoman who achieves a triumphant revenge on her husband who beats and abuses her. That may sound depressing, but Wolfe staging, the splendid acting of Danitra Vance and Reggie Montgomery, and an unusual course of men in masks who serve as commentators on the action fuse it into a work of art.

The second and most successful of the adaptations, "Story in Harlem Slang," is a hilarious vignette about two young conmen from out of town trying to get the
By Louis Botto

continued on page 35

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