HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, KY – Northern Kentucky University’s School of the Arts will launch its 2019-2020 Theatre + Dance Season with THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III by Carlyle Brown, running Sept. 26-Oct. 6 at NKU’s Corbett Theatre.
In 1820’s Manhattan, William Henry Brown, a free black American, organizes a production of Shakespeare’s Richard III for a predominantly black audience. When the booking of a famous English actor to play Richard III by a rival theatre company threatens to close their production, his African Grove Theatre Company is forced to reflect on their lives – performing jobs of servitude by day and their artistry by night. Drawn to the stage because of their ability to create art out of their own experiences, the company members must determine if their artistry is worth risking it all. Based on a true story, The African Company Presents Richard III carries a timeless message of negotiating racial consciousness in theatre that still resonates today.
Carlyle Brown’s script honors the earliest pioneers of African American Theatre. Rooted in ritual theatre techniques, this production pays homage to the African traditions from which the company evolved, while also referencing its contemporary descendants. Celebrating scholar Brenda Dixon Gottschild’s concept of the Africanist Aesthetic, the production incorporates both cross-centurial and cross-cultural (African, Asian, European) artistry. For example, Bunraku-styled puppeteers, in the roles of Ancestors, transport us through history via shadow puppetry – one of the oldest performance traditions throughout the world. In African puppetry, the puppet holds specific meaning and supernatural power in performance. The puppet has a traditional significance in its ability to convey both sacred and secular meanings.
The NKU cast features Alexander Slade (Stephen Price), Mary McNeill (Sarah), Maiya Caldwell (Ann Johnson), Je’Shaun Jackson (James Hewlett), Thomas Smith (Papa Shakespeare), Isaiah Reaves (William Henry Brown & Ira Aldrige), and Jerrod Gruber (Constable-Man). The Ancestors and Shadow Puppeteers will be portrayed by Olivia Barrell, Ezra Crist, Shelby Flynn, Brooke Hardin, Sabrina Mack, Elizabeth McClure, Erin Reardon, Katie Tierney and Theodore Molstad. The show is directed by Daryl Harris with additional material by Isaiah Reaves.
Other creative team members include Aretta Baumgartner (Movement/Puppetry Coach), Cat Schmeal (Costume Designer), Terry Powell (Lighting Designer), Griffin Allen (Assistant Lighting Designer), Jeremiah Kearns (Sound Designer), Brandon Kirkham (Scenic and Puppet Designer), Lily Adcock (Assistant Scenic Designer), and Sydney Dent (Props Master). The Stage Manager is Scott Slucher and Assistant Stage Managers are Ashlyn Duggan and Katie Mitchell.
For more information, call the NKU School of the Arts Box Office at (859) 572-5464 or visit nku.edu/sotatickets.
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