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Northampton Arts Council press release   Date: 10/14/10 Bookmark and Share

Off Broadway On to Smith Stage

Play by Smith Alumna Featured as Part of Otelia Cromwell Day 2010

As part of Otelia Cromwell Day 2010, on Tuesday, Oct. 26, the Northampton Arts Council will present a dynamic staged reading of Expatriate, a two-woman musical play created by Northampton Poet Laureate Lenelle Moïse MFA’04. The free performance begins at 7:30 p.m. in John M. Greene Hall.

A scene from Expatriate (photos by Vanessa Vargas).

The critically acclaimed play, which debuted off-Broadway in 2008, features Moïse and actor/vocalist Karla Mosley in an engaging and explosive look at the complexities of fame, friendship, sexuality, love and art.

The work tells of achingly platonic soul mates Claudie (Moïse) and Alphine (Mosley), unsung African-American musicians and longtime best friends. Both wrestle with the addiction, abandonment and sexual trauma that run in their respective family histories.

Diligent, dutiful, Julliard-trained composer Claudie may or may not be celibate while sparkly, indulgent Alphine has more natural star potential and sex appeal than she knows what to do with. When the women flee to Europe to pursue their American dreams, they forgo fruitless solo careers and join forces as the sultry singing duo Black Venus. Parisians dub them “the greatest act since Josephine Baker” and they quickly rise to fame and fortune.

Tensions rise as Claudie finds sexual freedom, artistic sustenance and spiritual regeneration through her new life abroad while Alphine’s hunger for adoration from a celebrity-mad culture spins tragically out of control.

Praise for Expatriate

The New York Times: “How inspiring it is to be reminded how invigorating an Off-Broadway play can be with just two appealing performers, compelling music and a searching, intelligent script. Lenelle Moïse, a poet, playwright and performer, has written, composed and stars in Expatriate, a two-woman production...that delivers on all counts.”

Go Magazine: “Armed only with their phenomenal voices and a JamMan loop machine, Moïse and Mosley perform Expatriate’s electrifying original musical score...From the concrete jungle to the Paris elite, the characters’ mutual evolution is both seamless and textured. Moïse and Mosley play their finely drawn roles with haunting passion and precision. From scene to scene, the arc of their relationship is beautifully and convincingly rendered in this refreshingly honest and deeply moving two-woman tour de force.”

Backstage: “Lenelle Moïse’s music, created by a JamMan loop machine and a powerful voice singing evocative lyrics, has a beat that gets under your skin, fascinating rhythm, and a real theatrical power. It’s new."

Lenelle Moïse

Award-winning poet, playwright, essayist, composer and nationally-touring performance artist, Moïse creates intimate, fiery, politicized, texts about the intersection of race, class, gender, sexuality, spirituality, culture and resistance. Her hip-hop bred, jazz-infused delivery is at once conversational and polished. Fueled by the motto “Words rouse worlds,” she regularly presents interactive performances and workshops that empower diverse groups of people to creatively speak up and act for social change. Moïse has been a guest artist at the United Nations, the Culture Project, the Louisiana Superdome, the Omega Institute and dozens of theatres, colleges and conferences across the United States and Canada. Moïse's writing is published in a number of anthologies, including Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution, We Don't Need Another Wave: Dispatches from the Next Generation of Feminists and Brassage: An Anthology of Poems by Haitian Women.

Karla Mosley

Mosley, an NYU graduate, has appeared in many productions. Her favorite roles include: on film/TV, Guiding Light (CBS), Burn After Reading (directed by the Coen Bros.), Hi-5 (TLC), Gossip Girl (CW), Law and Order: Criminal Intent (NBC), The Knights of Prosperity (ABC), Redhook (Showtime); in theater, Expatriate, The Culture Project; Max and Ruby, Lucille Lortel; Drift, NYMF; Young Sistas, Vital Theater Company. Mosley has also performed in jazz concerts with her cousin, the late 'Doc' Cheatham, and Dakota Staton. She is also on the International Board of Covenant House and does awareness work with the National Eating Disorder Association. For more information, visit opy

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