‘Aunt Rudele's Family Reunion’ promises side-splitting laughs in portrayal of outspoken, busybody relative

SARASOTA, FL – There have been few times in recent memory when people were as in need of a laugh as they are right now. To help lift the spirits of community members as well as theater fans wherever they may be, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe is pleased to offer streaming video of “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion.”

Viewers will laugh out loud as WBTT founder and artistic director Nate Jacobs dons a dirty-blond wig, glasses and heels to portray "Aunt Rudele,” the busybody relative who knows no boundaries but always knows best. Filmed during a two-night run in 2016, “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion” will be available from February 12 through March 28. A new interview of Jacobs by WBTT Associate Managing Director Travis Ray, exploring how Jacobs created and developed the character, will be available on the WBTT Live page of westcoastblacktheatre.org.

“Aunt Rudele's Family Reunion” is a hilarious one-man (one-woman) show starring and written by Jacobs, with contributions from Julian Olf. While attending the Stevens family reunion, Aunt Rudele introduces her kinfolk through songs, dances, prayers, sermons, and verbal duels. Her observations are searing and laugh-out loud funny. In the Southern tradition, this show serves up a main dish of laughter with a side order of down-home wisdom.

Jacobs has performed as Aunt Rudele at venues locally and around the country – including the 2001 National Black Theatre Festival in North Carolina, where the show was a huge hit. The character was born in 1978 when Jacobs was performing stand-up comedy throughout college and beyond. In 1999, Jacobs’ friend Larry Leon Hamlin – the founder and artistic director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company as well as the founder and executive director of the National Black Theatre Festival – helped Jacobs develop the show for the stage. 

Jacobs was inspired to create the character of Aunt Rudele by the women he was surrounded by as he grew up, particularly his mother and grandmother. Both women have now passed.

"The character comes out of my life experience, from being surrounded by strong, devout African American women," Jacobs said. "Aunt Rudele is a combination of my grandmother’s wisdom and indomitable strength and my mother’s bright personality and incredible sense of humor. While Aunt Rudele may often be annoying, even rude and insulting, I created her with a great deal of affection and I hope audiences will feel that."

“Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion” was directed by Julian Olf, who previously directed and taught playwriting at UMass-Amherst, where he also served as theater department chair. His plays have been seen in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Baton Rouge, and Vancouver; he has won numerous awards for his work. Olf and Jacobs worked together on edits and additions to the script and staging of this show prior to the performances in 2016.

This encore presentation of “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion” is dedicated to Hamlin, who died in 2007, and Olf, who passed away in 2019.

Tickets are $15/household. Go to westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.