Root Causes*
Mar 26Apr 10, 1997
By Steve Carter


Dennis Zacek


Steve Carter


Velma Austin (Eunice Bell)
T’Shaun Barrett (Ice Heart)
Craig Boyd (Ed Gaines)
Aaron Carter (Audio Announcer)
Laura Collins (Mrs. Gussie Harrison)
Gail Curry (Judge Caroline Weitzler)
Kelley Hazen (Lady Bressan)
Bob Romeo (“Princess” Dante)
Richard Shavzin (Herman Oberstein)
A.C. (Tony) Smith (Video Reverends)
Ray Thompson (Blood Black)
Phillip Van Lear (August “Happy Cat” Harrison)


One picture is worth a thousand words, the saying goes; certainly the electric-colored pop paintings by Ed Paschke that dominate the design of this world premiere have clarity and power sorely lacking in Steve Carter’s script. Inspired by the case of one Felix Wayne Mitchell, head of an Oakland heroin operation in the late 70s, Root Causes concerns August “Happy Cat” Harrison, an elegant black gangster with a taste for white women and the New York Times crossword puzzle–Carter’s signal that this unhappy cat is cut off from his roots. Regarded as a Robin Hood by some in the black community, Harrison is convicted on dope charges, killed in prison by a gay bodybuilder, and finally made the subject of renewed media hype when his conviction is posthumously overturned. (Source credited:


UNDERSTUDIES: Amy Dickenson (Judge/Camera/Guard/Pallbearer)
Dino Biris (Oberstein)
Sephus Booker (Harrison)
Aaron Carter (Ed Gaines/Reverends/Ice Heart/Blood Black/Bailiff/Camera/Guard/Pallbearer)
Paulette McDaniels (Gussie)
Seema Sueko (Tina Yu/Guard/Pallbearer)
Mark Raben (“Princess” Dante/Foreperson/Camera/Mourner)
Marie Francoise Theodore (Eunice/Toneesha/Black Woman)
Kim Wade (Lady Bresson)

Production Team

Dennis Zacek: Director
Claudia Boddy: Costume Designer
Ron De Marco: Production Manager
Chris Garbacz: Master Electrician
Monique W. Cantor: Technical Director/Props
Mary Griswold: Set Designer
Todd Hensley: Lighting Designer
Lindsay Jones: Sound Designer
Stephan Mazurek: Video Designer