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Toast Opens At The Public Theatre Starring Hill Harper & Keith David

Broadway Black

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Tuesday night at the esteemed theatre on Astor Place, otherwise known as the Public Theatre, celebrations ensued at the opening of Toast by Lemon Anderson. Award winning poet and playwright had two reasons to celebrate that night, his birthday and his show! Toast, which was first presented at the Under the Radar festival at the Public, weaves through the prison narrative in folklore style. Headed up by Broadway Veteran and a Broadway Black fave, Keith David who plays legendary inmate Dolomite. David is accompanied on stage with cellmates Phillip James Brannon (Annabelle Jones), Dan Butler (Sheriff Jody), Teddy Cañez (G.I. Joe), Hill Harper (Hard Rock), John Earl Jelks (Stackolee), Jonathan Earl Peck (Hobo Ben), and Armando Riesco (Jesse James).

toast public

We are sure Toast is a show you don’t want to miss! Directed by Andersen’s County of Kings collaborator, Elise Thoron, this Public Lab run that began with previews on April 21st only has a week left in its run. This compelling tale that takes place inside Attica prison during the 1971 uprising will show you the layers of the colored man and inside the mind of life in prison. How do you keep yourself from losing it that is.

Back in 2013, we were there for the premiere reading and Keith David, along with the rest of the cast floored us! (Read the article HERE ) Still don’t believe us maybe this blurb about the show will get you excited:

“Willie Green a.k.a. “Dolomite,” the famous Folklore hero from the old Black Narratives, is still known as the baddest badass out of San Antone, but he’s aged and has been locked up for murder in Attica’s D-Block for the last 27 years. Word is brewing throughout Attica that a riot is coming, but Dolomite and his cellmates would rather not get involved until the youngest inmate in D-Block gets a vicious beating by the officers for demanding better prison conditions. Does Dolomite join the riots and take vengeance upon the officers for what they did – or lock himself in his cell and hope for a promised parole date and the chance to taste freedom? The word “toast” is actually an art form of reciting poetry based on characters and situations driven from the Black Experience, mostly told and performed in the prisons, Bars and pool halls of America. The play honors this poetic form and brings its heroes like Stackolee, Jesse James, Voodoo Queen, Hard Rock to the stage.”

Toast is running now through May 10th at the Public Theatre. Tickets can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555 or visiting publictheater.org

Events and Happenings

Erika Dickerson-Despenza Addresses Flint Water Crisis with Cullud Wattah

Drew Shade

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Playwright Erika Dickerson-Despenza

There is limited seating left for Erika Dickerson-Despenza’s new play CULLUD WATTAH at The Public Theater. Opening today, Thursday, March 7th and running until Sunday, March 10th in the Public Studio is about three generations of Black women living through the current water crisis in Flint, Michigan.

“It’s been 936 days since Marion’s family has had clean water. When local activists file a class action lawsuit against the city, Marion—a third-generation employee at General Motors—must decide how best to support her two daughters, sister, and mother while lead seeps into the community, their home, and their bodies. As corrosive memories and secrets rise among them, the family wonders if they’ll ever be able to filter out the truth.”

2018 Relentless Award Semifinalist and poet-playwright makes her Public Theater debut with CULLUD WATTAH directed by Lilly Award winner Candis C. Jones; the cast includes Deonna Bouye (Marion), Alana Raquel Bowers (Reesee), Caroline Stefanie Clay (Big Ma), Nikiya Mathis (Ainee), and Kara Young (Plum).

The creative team includes Production Stage Manager Gregory Fletcher, Stage Manager Priscilla Villanueva, and Movement Director Adesola Osakalumi. Along with scenic design by Arnulfo Maldonado, Costume Design by Ntokozo Fuzunina Kunene, lighting Design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew, and sound design by Megan Culley

We believe in this work so much we’re giving away 4 tickets to the performances on March 10th. 2 tickets to the matinee and two the evening performance thanks to our founder Drew Shade and actress/playwright Jocelyn Bioh. Go to our Instagram to find out how!

Also, find out more about how you can help the Flint Water Crisis and support this show HERE.

Listen to Erika talk about her work on an episode of Off Book Podcast below

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Events and Happenings

Surely Goodness and Mercy by Chisa Hutchinson Begins Off-Broadway

Broadway Black

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Performances begin today, Tuesday February 26th, for the New York premiere of  Surely Goodness and Mercy, presented by Keen Company. A story about an exceptional boy living a troubled life in Newark, NJ who does a good deed for an often unnoticed person.   Sarita Covington, Jay Mazyck, Brenda Pressley, Courtney Thomas, and Cezar Williams star under Jessi D. Hill’s direction.

Set in an under-funded public school in Newark, Surely Goodness and Mercy by rising playwright Chisa Hutchinson, tells the story of a bible-toting boy with a photographic memory who befriends the cantankerous old lunch lady. Against all odds, Tino and Bernadette help each other through the mess of growing up and growing old.  

Surely Goodness and Mercy has spent the last year charming audiences across the country: “Notably absent from Hutchinson’s frank and sobering story: cynicism” – Chicago Reader; “(Surely Goodness and Mercy has) a soul-stirring quality, touching audiences with its sincerity” – Daily Utah Chronicle; “it’s impossible not to like it” – The Salt Lake Tribune. Now, Keen is honored to bring this big-hearted new play to New York for the first time.

Performances for this limited Off-Broadway engagement of Surely Goodness and Mercy will continue through Saturday, April 13th only, with opening night set for Wednesday, March 13th.

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