Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) launches their 12th season with “Wine in the Wilderness” by Alice Childress, as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival.
Presented in collaboration with TheBlackBestFriend, the show runs through Oct. 9 at Poth Brewery, 3145 W. Jefferson St. The plot examines race, gender, and class against the backdrop of the 1964 race riots in Harlem.
The story unfolds in the apartment of Bill, a painter creating a triptych to illustrate the phases of Black womanhood. When friends introduce him to a potential model for the final painting, assumptions unravel and the true power of Black women is both acknowledged and celebrated.
Natajia (Tay) Sconiers takes the role of “Cynthia,” a social worker, who along with her husband Sonny-man, think they have found the perfect model to represent exactly what Bill is looking for.
“This is a beautiful story, focusing on the ideal of Black people in white America,” Sconiers says, “although saying some of the lines can be quite challenging. Written in the ‘60s, it talks abut how Black women need to behave in order to be seen as attractive.”
For example, Tommy, the model chosen to be Bill’s muse, is a more independent women than Cynthia and believes women should also be able to be the head of the household as well as men. But Cynthia believes a woman has to give into her husband’s wishes, still believing on the stereotypes of the day.
“Saying some of the lines can be quite challenging, and some of the lines can be hard to say, especially as said by Cynthia. The ‘N’ word is used occasionally and that’s difficult. Still, I think the play makes certain points that are still relevant today.”
Sconiers is a resident of Cherry Hill, N.J., and the Associate Artistic Director of PAC. She is also the Company Manager at Delaware Theatre Company, and a member of Theatre Contra. A graduate of Rutgers University with a degree in Theatre Arts, the young actor reveals that she didn’t always plan on performing.
“Originally I was planning on becoming a fashion designer, but eventually discovered I was more interested in storytelling. So, I began to wonder what I could do that would work for me and wouldn’t be a waste of my time.
“I always enjoyed the theater and fell in love with all phases of it,” she continues. “So in the beginning I started out as a costume designer and quickly developed a love for all phases of the theater.”
Sconiers gives credit to her grandmother for urging her to go on stage.”She thought I was ready for acting and that would be a lot easier than doing so much work backstage.”
The multi-talented Sconiers gained past acting knowledge apprenticing at Delaware Shakespeare, and is a former Arden Apprentice. Over time she developed an interest in all things happening backstage until, finally, the time came for her to step out on stage.
“Truthfully,” she admits, “in the beginning I had terrible stage fright. My hands would actually shake. But once I got over that I found out how exciting it was to be on stage and acting in a play.
“Today, I love being on stage and hope to be pursuing my career for a long, long time to come.”
For more information and to get tickets for this production, visit fringarts.com.