RED BULL THEATER announces the complete cast for THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III: Clifton Duncan, Dion Johnstone, Paul Niebanck, and more
Posted by: Official_Press_Release 11:35 am EST 01/06/21



A Benefit Reading of

by Carlyle Brown

Directed by Carl Cofield

Featuring Clifton Duncan, Edward Gero, Dion Johnstone, Paul Niebanck, Antoinette Robinson, Craig Wallace, and Jessika D. Williams.

"The personal and the historical, the comic and the angry propels The African Company… theatrical and social concerns entwine with powerful resonance… Mr. Brown is a writer with a distinct voice and a powerful story to tell." - The Washington Post

This Monday, January 11th at 7:30PM EST

RED BULL THEATER (Jesse Berger, Founder and Artistic Director | Jim Bredeson, Managing Director) today announced the complete cast for the upcoming benefit reading of The African Company Presents Richard III by Carlyle Brown, directed by Carl Cofield, featuring Clifton Duncan, Edward Gero, Dion Johnstone, Paul Niebanck, Antoinette Robinson, Craig Wallace, and Jessika D. Williams. PLEASE NOTE UPDATED CAST INFORMATION.

The online reading will be broadcast LIVE on this Monday, January 11th, at 7:30 PM EST. A recording of the livestream will be available until 7PM EST on Friday January 15th - then it disappears forever. This is a free event, but advance reservations are recommended. A donation of $25 or more per viewer is suggested.

In 1821-forty years before the abolition of slavery, and fifty years before Black Americans earned the right to vote-two productions of Shakespeare's Richard III are on the rialto. One is presented by the African Company of New York, known for putting on plays in a downtown Manhattan theatre to which both Black and white audiences flocked. The other is helmed by Stephen Price, an uptown theater impresario who, fearful of the African Company's production, which is garnering large white audiences, manipulates the law and employs his privilege to shutter the competition. Shakespeare is the cultural battleground in this inventive, emotional, and energetic retelling of a pivotal moment in American theater history. Speaking about his play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Carlyle Brown explains "We now live in an era that is reflective of early 19th Century America. We are becoming a world as our early American world began as a multicultural world. We are living in a world, where at the very least artists anyway, are making culture out of cultures. And we are seeing in the world today not just a clash of cultures, but unification. Who owns Shakespeare one might ask? You might as well ask who has the right to breathe, to dream, to express themselves, to be themselves, to live in and make a meaningful contribution to their world. I submit to you that as human beings this is an obligation and responsibility for all of us."

"Exactly 200 years ago, the real events that form the plot of The African Company... took place-not much more than a stone's throw from where I'm sitting typing these words at this moment in New York City, isolated. What I wouldn't give to be in a theater full of all kinds of people hearing Richard III live and passionately enacted right now! Carlyle Brown's moving play takes place in the midst of a dramatic conflict between two companies performing Shakespeare-one an established white company, one an exciting new Black company. The battle in this country over who gets to tell Shakespeare's stories-and who should-has raged ever since, right through the Brustein/Wilson debates and up to our present day. Carlyle's play gives us a personal and poetic window through which to look in on our ever-present racially charged past, helping us better understand our own times, and how we all might think about who gets to tell whose stories," said Artistic Director Berger

Carlyle Brown's first professional theater production was his Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show at Penumbra Theatre Company in 1986. The next year Penumbra premiered his now famous The African Company Presents Richard III. With a Penumbra premiere of Buffalo Hair in 1994 and a National McKnight Fellowship, Brown moved to the Twin Cities and it has been his artistic home ever since. Other Twin Cities productions: Beggars' Strike at the Children's Theater Company, the Mixed Blood production of Pure Confidence that moved to Off-Broadway in New York and American Family at Park Square Theater. His plays include The Negro of Peter the Great, A Big Blue Nail, Dartmoor Prison, The Pool Room, Yellow Moon Rising, Down in Mississippi and others. He has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Houston Grand Opera, the Children's Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theater, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Louisville. He is recipient of playwriting fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and the Pew Charitable Trust. Mr. Brown has been artist-in-residence at New York University School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program, The James Thurber House in Columbus, and Ohio State University Theater Department. He has been a teacher of expository writing at New York University; African-American literature at the University of Minnesota; playwriting at Ohio State University and Antioch College; African American theater and dramatic literature at Carlton College as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Artist, and "Creation and Collaboration" at the University of Minnesota Department of Theater. He has worked as a museum exhibit writer and story consultant for the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Brown is a Core Writer at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis and he is an alumnus of New Dramatists in New York. He has served on the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the non-profit professional theater. He is a member of the board of directors for the Playwrights' Center and the Jerome Foundation and a Trustee of the Camargo Foundation. He is the 2006 recipient of The Black Theatre Network's Winona Lee Fletcher Award for outstanding achievement and artistic excellence, a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2010 recipient of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre, and 2010 United States Artists Fellow.

On Thursday January 14th at 7:30 PM EST, there will be a free post-performance Bull Session, an interactive discussion of the play and its themes with playwright Carlyle Brown, director Carl Cofield, scholar Marvin Edward McAllister, and members of the company. Registrants will receive a link to participate.

Red Bull Theater is committed to continuing connection during this historic time. Red Bull's online readings offer the unique opportunity to hear rarely-produced classic plays, and brand new plays in conversation with the classics, performed by the finest actors in New York. All of Red Bull Theater's current offerings are FREE, but advance reservations are recommended. Tax-deductible donations are encouraged to support Red Bull and invest in the vitality of classical theater for a contemporary audience.

Red Bull Theater wishes to express its gratitude to the Performers' Unions: ACTORS' EQUITY ASSOCIATION, AMERICAN GUILD OF MUSICAL ARTISTS, AMERICAN GUILD OF VARIETY ARTISTS, and SAG-AFTRA through Theatre Authority, Inc. for their cooperation in permitting the Artists to appear on these programs.

Red Bull Theater, hailed as "the city's gutsiest classical theater" by Time Out New York, brings rarely seen classic plays to dynamic new life for contemporary audiences, uniting a respect for tradition with a modern sensibility. Named for the rowdy Jacobean playhouse that illegally performed plays in England during the years of Puritan rule, Red Bull Theater is New York City's home for dynamic performances of great plays that stand the test of time. With the Jacobean plays of Shakespeare and his contemporaries as its cornerstone, the company also produces new works that are in conversation with the classics. A home for artists, scholars and students, Red Bull Theater delights and engages the intellect and imagination of audiences, and strives to make its work accessible, diverse, and welcoming to all. Red Bull Theater believes in the power of great classic stories and plays of heightened language to deepen our understanding of the human condition, in the special ability of live theater to create unique, collective experiences, and the timeless capacity of classical theater to illuminate the events of our times. Variety agreed, hailing Red Bull's work as: "Proof that classical theater can still be surprising after hundreds of years."

Since its debut in 2003 with a production of Shakespeare's Pericles starring Daniel Breaker, Red Bull Theater has served adventurous theatergoers with Off-Broadway productions, Revelation Readings, and the annual Short New Play Festival. The company also offers outreach programs including Shakespeare in Schools bringing professional actors and teaching artists into public school classrooms; Bull Sessions, free post-play discussions with top scholars; and Classical Acting Intensives led by veteran theater professionals. In partnership with The Drama League, Red Bull Theater offers The Classical Directing Fellowship, which immerses a director in the life of a company working in the classical canon, and is designed to bring diverse voices into the productions and institutions dedicated to this work.

Red Bull Theater strives to be a home for all artists and theatergoers. Red Bull values and is dedicated to practicing inclusiveness on our stage, in our audience, on our staff, and within our leadership. We are committed to making antiracism a core value of our theater. We know that simply making these statements is not enough. We are committed to ongoing actions to increase racial justice and equal opportunity at our theater-doing our part to help realize a more racially and socially just theater community, city, and country.

"The classics-shaking Red Bull Theater," as Time Out NY has called it, has presented 20 Off-Broadway productions and nearly 200 Revelation Readings of rarely seen classics, serving a community of more than 5,000 artists and providing quality artistic programming to an audience of over 65,000. The company's unique programming has received ongoing critical acclaim, and has been recognized with Lortel, Drama Desk, Drama League, Callaway, Off Broadway Alliance, and OBIE nominations and Awards.

For more information visit www.redbulltheater.com.
Link http://www.redbulltheater.com

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