Actress, playwright, and sword-wielding zombie killer, Danai Gurira, stopped by the The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon to talk about the monumental success she’s earned in 2015.
Author of a show headed to Broadway? Check.
Awarded “Person of the Year” at the African Diaspora Awards? Check.
Leading role on a popular prime time Television series? Check.
While all of these great things were in the works, Danai still found the time to give back. Her giving back was in the form of mentoring her friend (and one of our favorites!) Lupita Nyong’o, through the selection process of which graduate program to attend. Although Nyong’o didn’t choose Gurira’s alma mater, Tisch School of The Arts, the two were still on the same page artistically. In Nyong’o’s first year at Yale, she understudied the role in Eclipsed she would go on to play at The Public Theatre this past fall. As previously reported, Nyong’o will reprise her role when Eclipsed opens on Broadway in February. And to say we cannot wait, is an understatement!
Gurira has a lot to be proud of. Eclipsed, which she penned in 2009, had an extraordinary run at The Public Theatre— it was extended twice and sold out. Her team is equally as impressive and diverse, which adds on to the relevance of her high pressure story telling the personhood of Liberian women “navigating survival during a vicious civil war.” The show is produced by two African-American lead producers, Stephen Byrd and Alia Jones-Harvey. Director Liesl Tommy, who staged the play’s premiere at the Woolly Mammoth Theater in Washington in 2009, is from South Africa. Lupita Nyong’o identifies as Mexican-Kenyan. Lastly, Gurira herself, was born in the United States and raised with her family in Zimbabwe.
Outside of the playing “ Michonne” in The Walking Dead, Guira appeared in the films “The Visitor” and “Mother of George.” Her stage credits include the role of “ Isabella” in Measure for Measure for which she received the Actor’s Equity Callaway Award. As a playwright, she received an Obie Award, Outer Critics Award, and Helen Hayes Award for In the Continuum. For Eclipsed, Gurira won an NAACP Image Award, the Helen Hayes Award for Best New Play, and the Connecticut Critics Circle Award for Outstanding Production of a Play. Her latest play, will premiere in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February 2016.
Jeremy O. Harris’ Slave Play Will Transfer To Broadway & Put Him in the History Books
Slave Play by Jeremy O. Harris will transfer to Broadway making the 30-year-old playwright the youngest black man in history to have a play produced on Broadway and only the sixth Black writer to have a new play on Broadway in the last decade.
A recent graduate of the Yale School of Drama, Harris wrote Slave Play his first semester in the graduate playwriting program there. New York Theatre Workshop produced the world premiere in 2018 that lead to controversy and critical acclaim from those who had and hadn’t seen it.
Producers Greg Nobile, Jana Shea, Troy Carter, Level Forward and Nine Stories Productions announced the play will transfer to the Golden Theatre this fall.
The limited 17-week engagement beginning performance previews September 10th with an official opening scheduled for October 6th. Robert O’Hara will reprise his role as director with casting for the Broadway run announced at a later date.
The Old South lives on at the MacGregor Plantation — in the breeze, in the cotton fields…and in the crack of the whip. It’s an antebellum fever-dream, where fear and desire entwine in the looming shadow of the Master’s House. Jim trembles as Kaneisha handles melons in the cottage, Alana perspires in time with the plucking of Phillip’s fiddle in the boudoir, while Dustin cowers at the heel of Gary’s big, black boot in the barn. Nothing is as it seems, and yet everything is as it seems.
You can currently read the published play in the July/August issue of American Theatre Magazine
The creative team for the production includes Clint Ramos (scenic design), Dede Ayite (costume design), Jiyoun Chang (lighting design), Lindsay Jones (sound design and original music), Byron Easley (movement), Claire Warden (intimacy and fight director), Doug Nevin (production counsel), and Taylor Williams (casting director). Mark Shacket serves as Executive Producer.
Harris said, “During my very short time being a professional writer, the world I thought I’d inhabit was one at odds with a commercial theatrical landscape; so to see that this play, Slave Play, that interrogates the traumas Americans have inherited from the legacy of chattel slavery and colonization has a place in the canon of work that has made its way to the Great White Way is both exhilarating and humbling. It also articulates that the leaps the community made in the past Broadway season might not have been a fad but the beginning of a new moment for the theatre to once again attempt to represent discursive American theatrical expression not situated solely within the imaginaries of cis white men, but the imaginaries of all Americans.”
O’Hara said, “I’m thrilled as a black queer artist to be collaborating with another black queer artist on what will be both of our Broadway debuts. I think the idea that I can say that openly and proudly is rather profound given the history of our country and of the American theater, but more specifically Broadway which has had and continues to have a general lack of diversity and diverse stories. I feel that Jeremy is joined today by a whole host of exciting young artists who are telling stories outside the main stem which can now hopefully be presented on the main stem. As the margin slowly becomes the center, I believe a cavalcade of voices one would never expect to be heard on Broadway can be and should be demanded. Slave Play is a complex, challenging and exhilarating piece of work and I look forward to presenting it this fall on Broadway.”
Michael Jackson Bio-Musical Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough Will Open in Chicago Ahead of Broadway
The musical inspired by the life of the deceased pop icon Michael Jackson has found its title, Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough. Still in development after a reading in June of last year, the musical, named after Jackson’s classic song from the 1979 album Off The Wall, will incorporate the Jackson music catalog.
Focusing on Jackson’s career in his 20s–30s, Two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Lynn Nottage is attached as the book writer and Christopher Wheeldon will direct and choreograph.
Announced by the Michael Jackson Estate and Columbia Live Stage, the highly anticipated musical will have an out of town run in Chicago starting October 29th and running through December 1st, 2019 at Chicago’s James M. Nederlander Theatre (formerly the Oriental Theatre) before transferring to Broadway in 2020.
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