*LOS ANGELES, CA (February 11, 2014) Ebony Repertory Theatre (ERT – Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown) will present Phillip Hayes Dean’s (Drama Desk-winner for The Sty of the Blind Pig) powerful and moving play PAUL ROBESON. Dean will also stage the ERT production, which will mark his Los Angeles directorial debut. Two-time Emmy Award-winner Keith David (Fox’s new series Enlisted) will star in this one-man play accompanied by pianist/musical director Byron J. Smith (working with numerous artists including Wynton Marsalis, Barbra Streisand, Bebe Winnans). Performances will run March 12 – 30, 2014 with an official press opening on March 14 at the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center (4718 West Washington Boulevard) in Los Angeles.
“We are excited to work with the seminal playwright and director, Mr. Phillip Hayes Dean, whom I consider firmly in the pantheon of the great American dramatist. His vast body of work not only fits squarely into our mission, I feel it examines the human condition in a way that sheds tremendous light on who we are and who we have been as a nation,” said Ebony Repertory Theatre Founder/Producer Wren T. Brown. “In addition, having the magnificent award-winning actor of stage, screen, and voice-over, Mr. Keith David, portraying the great American artist/activist Paul Robeson adds immeasurable joy. The coming together of this production, after gestating for five years, brings real satisfaction.”
Playwright and director Phillip Hayes Dean added, “I’ve waited a long time to work with Keith David on Robeson, now the time has come. One of the many things that has impressed me about Keith, beyond his wonderful talent, is that, like Robeson, he has a strong connection to people and their plight.”
“At the beginning of 2014, my first project will be Paul Robeson with Ebony Repertory Theatre, headed by my friend Wren T. Brown and directed by the playwright Phillip Hayes Dean,” said Keith David. “I have wanted to do this play since 1978 when I first saw James Earl Jones do it on Broadway. I feel blessed and privileged to be able to start my year honoring this great man in this great play. This is not a job, it’s a gift!”
A powerful chronicle of the life of Paul Robeson, Phillip Hayes Dean’s play takes us from his childhood in New Jersey to his adult life around the world. An All-American athlete and a lawyer with Columbia Law School credentials, Robeson faces the racism prevalent in society in the early part of the twentieth century. He strives to rise above, and it is his triumph in that struggle that turns Robeson into a modern day hero.
Realizing the racist system would not allow him to practice as a lawyer, Robeson turns to singing, something he had learned well in the church choir. His singing leads to acting and his acting, with all the accolades due a master, leads him around the world. But every place he visits he sees the strains of racism in its many forms. The more he sees, the more he speaks out, using his influence and stature to try and enlighten those around him. After some time in Europe, he returns to the United States to perform and speak out about the injustices in the country he loves. Confronting racism again, he sticks to his values, adhering to no party line, but is accused of being a Communist, an agitator and much more. He is blacklisted and his passport is revoked, but he goes on speaking out whenever he can.
For eight years Robeson fights to clear his name. Finally, the social climate begins to change and toward the end of his life, Robeson’s passport is reinstated along with some of the glory and respect he earned along the way. There is still far to go, but Paul Robeson remains a beacon to those struggling to make this world a better place.
In addition to director Phillip Hayes Dean, the creative team for PAUL ROBESON includes scenic design by Edward E. Haynes, Jr., costume design by Wendell C. Carmichael, lighting design by Dan Weingarten, sound design by Bob Blackburn and choreography by Keith Young. The production stage manager is David Blackwell.
Phillip Hayes Dean’s PAUL ROBESON originally opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre in 1978, later transferring to the Booth Theatre, starring James Earl Jones and directed by Lloyd Richards with original staging by Charles Nelson Reilly. The one-man play had two revivals on Broadway – 1988 at the John Golden Theatre and in 1995 at the Longacre Theatre. Both productions starred Avery Brooks and were directed by Harold Scott.
Ebony Repertory Theatre, now in its sixth year, is the resident company and operator of the Nate Holden Performing Arts Center, which is located at 4718 West Washington Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90016. PAUL ROBESON runs March 12 – 30, 2014 with the official press opening on Friday, March 14. Preview performances are scheduled for Wednesday, March 12 at 8:00 p.m. and Thursday, March 13 at 8:00 p.m. The regular performance schedule is Friday at 8:00 p.m., Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets range from $30.00 – $60.00. Single tickets are available online at ebonyrep.org or by phone at 323-964-9766. Groups of 10 or more are available via email at [email protected] or 323-964-9766.
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