For 38 years, Nate Jacobs and Aunt Rudele have been frequent companions.
Jacobs, the artistic director of Sarasota’s Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, created a character he called Aunt Rudele when he was a touring stand-up comedian in 1978. Rudele was inspired by the strong but sometimes abrasive women that Jacobs grew up with and she was a hit with audiences.
In 1999, Jacobs’ friend Larry Leon Hamlin, the artistic director of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company and executive director of the National Black Theatre Festival, helped Jacobs develop a one-person show built around Rudele.
The show is called “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion,” and Jacobs is bringing it back to WBTT for two shows this weekend. It’s the first time Rudele has appeared on the WBTT stage since 2013.
The format of the comedy has Aunt Rudele introducing her kinfolk through songs, dances, prayers, sermons and verbal duels. Jacobs allows that Rudele is often annoying, but he says he has a lot of affection for her and that he tries to show it in his writing and performance.
Jacobs and Julian Olf have revised and updated the script for this run. Olf retired to Sarasota last year after a career as a playwright and director, including a long tenure as a professor and theater department chair at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst. Olf is also directing this staging of “Aunt Rudele’s Family Reunion.” He directed an acclaimed and popular production of “Art” for Sarasota’s Banyan Theater last year.