The following is a republished press release from the Kitchen Theatre Company and is NOT written by The Ithaca Voice. To submit community announcements directly to The Ithaca Voice, email

(ITHACA) – Kitchen Theatre Company launches its 2017-2018 Season with Smart People, a sharp and provocative new comedy by Lydia R. Diamond. Summer L. Williams, Associate Artistic Director of Company One Theatre (Boston, MA), directs. Performances of Smart People begin at the Kitchen Theatre Company in The Percy Browning Theatre on September 3.

“I couldn’t be more excited for Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People to be the first show of my first season here at the Kitchen Theatre Company,” says Producing Artistic Director, Bevin. “’Smart People’ is about big, controversial ideas that are so important to this particular moment. And yet it is also a story about compelling and dynamic human relationships. When I think of Lydia’s plays, the first thing that comes to mind are the unique characters she creates and the complex relationships she builds between them. But what I love most about her writing is the way she infuses humor and heart to really drive the story home.”

“Smart People” poses big questions about whether our beliefs and prejudices are hard-wired into us by exploring the intersecting lives of four Harvard intellectuals: Brian, a white neuro-psychiatrist studying the brain’s response to race; his Chinese-Japanese American lover Ginny, a tenured professor of psychology studying race and identity among Asian-American women; Brian’s friend Jackson, an African-American surgical intern on rotation in one of the university’s teaching hospitals; and Valerie, an African-American who has recently graduated with her MFA in Acting.

With barbed wit, Diamond asks questions about our beliefs and prejudices as she depicts these four characters search for love, success, and identify in a complex world.

“I am so excited to be back in the room working on another Lydia Diamond play,” says director Williams.“She is so tremendously gifted, and her work is always challenging, humorous, and piercing. It’s been one of the great joys of my life to know her; she’s a sister and artist whom I fully admire. The opportunity to be reunited in Ithaca is thrilling. I’m honored to be at the helm of this project, working with both old friends and new, telling this incredibly profound and funny story.”

The ensemble cast features Bryce Michael Wood (King Lear and Spamalot at Connecticut Repertory Theatre) as Jackson, Folami Williams (Othello at Classic Stage Company and Concrete Orange at the Guthrie Theater) as Valerie, Jake Lee Smith (Buried Child and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof at NYU) as Brian, and Shannon Tyo (Kentucky at Ensemble Studio Theatre and The White Snake at The Old Globe) as Ginny.

Smart People was commissioned by McCarter Theatre Center and originally produced at the Huntington Theatre Company supported by the National Endowment for the Arts Art Works grant.

– September 3– September 22, 2017
– Tuesday preview performance at 7:00 PM
– Wednesday & Thursday evening performances at 7:30 PM
– Friday & Saturday evenings at 8:00 PM
– Sunday matinee performances at 4:00 PM
– Thursday matinee performance at 2:00 PM
– Opening: Thursday, September 7, 7:30pm. RSVP to Lesley Greene at

Kitchen Theatre Company at 417 W. State/MLK, Jr. St. Ithaca, NY 14850

– Subscriptions​ ​Available​ ​from​ ​$108 to $284.
– Single​ ​Tickets​ ​Available​ ​from​ ​$15 to $45.
– Online at
– By phone at (607) 272-0570
– In person Monday-Friday, 10:00 AM-6:00 PM at the Kitchen offices (409 W. State St.) and Saturday-Sunday, 12:00-4:00 PM at the theater (417 W. State St.)

– Pay What You Can Nights: Sunday, September 3rd and Tuesday, September 5th.
– Preview Talkbacks: Led by members of the Kitchen Theatre staff after Preview performances. Free with a ticket to the performance.
– Actors’ Forum: Participating cast members answer questions from the audience. Hosted by Lee Rayburn of WHCU. September 8th & 15th following the 8PM performances.
– Post Show Talk: A conversation about the historic or literary context of the production. Sunday, September 17th, following the 4 PM performance.


Lydia R. Diamond ​(Playwright)​ ​Award winning plays include: Smart People, Stick Fly, Voyeurs de Venus, The Bluest Eye, The Gift Horse, Harriet Jacobs, The Inside, and Stage Black. Theatres include: Arena Stage, Cort Theatre (Broadway), Chicago Dramatists, Company One, Congo Square, Goodman, Hartford Stage, Huntington, Jubilee, Kansas City Rep, Long Wharf, Lorraine Hansberry, McCarter, Mo’Olelo, MPAACT, New Vic, Playmakers Rep, Plowshares, Second Stage, Steppenwolf, and TrueColors. Commissions include: Arena Stage, Steppenwolf (4), McCarter, Huntington, Center Stage, Victory Gardens, and The Roundabout. A recipient of many playwriting awards, Lydia was also an ’05/’06 W.E.B. Du Bois Institute non-resident Fellow, a 2007 TCG/NEA Playwright in Residence at Steppenwolf, an 06/07 Huntington Playwright Fellow, a 2012 Sundance Institute Playwright Lab Creative Advisor, is a Board Member at Chicago Dramatists, and a 2012/2013 Radcliffe Institute Fellow. Lydia is an NU graduate (’91), has an Honorary Doctorate of Arts from Pine Manor College, and is 2013-14 Playwright in Residence at Arena Stage.

Summer​ ​L.​ ​Williams​ ​(Director)​ Ms. Williams is a Co-Founder and Associate Artistic Director of Company One Theatre in Boston. Her most recent directing credits include: Barbecue at Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again. at Company One Theatre, Bootycandy at SpeakEasy Stage Company, An Octoroon and Colossal with Company One Theatre–Winner of the 2016 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director for both productions. Regional credits: Intimate Apparel at Lyric Stage Company of Boston, Shiv as a part of The Displaced Hindu Gods Trilogy, Shelter of Last Resort by Miranda Craigwell as a part of XX PlayLab 2014, and the New England Premiere of Jackie Sibblies Drury’s We Are Proud To Present A Presentation About The Herero Of Namibia, Formerly Known As Southwest Africa From The German Sudwestafrika Between The Years 1884-1915, Idris Goodwin’s How We Got On and Lynn Nottage’s By The Way, Meet Vera Stark at the Lyric Stage Company of Boston, The Brothers Size and Marcus; Or The Secret Of Sweet as part of The Brother/Sister Plays (2012 Elliot Norton Award nominated for Outstanding Production
and winner of the 2012 IRNE Award for Best Play), Neighbors, Grimm, The Good Negro, Voyeurs De Venus (Winner of 2009 Elliot Norton Award for Outstanding Director), The Bluest Eye (IRNE and Elliot Norton Award nominated), The Last Days Of Judas Iscariot, Spell #7 (IRNE nominated), Jesus Hopped The A Train
(2004 Elliot Norton Award for Best Fringe Production) Twilight: Los Angeles 1992 (IRNE nominated). Ms. Williams has also directed for the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, Clark University, Brandeis University, The Theatre Offensive and Huntington Theatre Company.

The Kitchen Theatre Company’s production of Smart People will feature scenic and lighting design by Tyler M. Perry (Clean Alternatives and Throw Pitchfork at the Kitchen), costume design by Lisa Boquist (Birds of East Africa and Precious Nonsense at the Kitchen), and projection and sound design by Rasean Davonte Johnson (Cymbeline at Yale Repertory Theatre and You Got Older at Steppenwolf Theatre). Production Stage Manager is Jennifer Schlansky.

● Co-Producer: C.S.P Management
● Media Sponsor: Cayuga Radio Group

Bold,​ ​intimate,​ ​engaging…​ ​Kitchen Theatre Company (KTC), now beginning its 27th season, is downtown Ithaca’s critically acclaimed and nationally recognized year-round professional theater company, specializing in regional and world premiere plays. KTC’s intimate 99-seat theater is in a beautifully renovated, LEED-certified
building in the West End neighborhood of downtown Ithaca, New York. KTC is the first not-for-profit recipient of the David R. Strong Memorial “Small Business of the Year” Award from the Tompkins County Chamber of Commerce and receives public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the
Tompkins County Tourism Program. The Kitchen Theatre Company also receives general operating support from the Shubert Foundation.

Featured image: Smart People actors Jake Lee Smith, Shannon Tyo, Folami Williams, and Bryan Michael Wood Provided photo