World Premiere of Diane Paulus-Helmed WITNESS UGANDA Begins at A.R.T.
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University presents the world premiere production of Witness Uganda, created by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, directed by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus, with choreography by Darrell Grand Moultrie and Music Director, Remy Kurs. The production begins performances at the Loeb Drama Center at 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge tonight, February 4, and will run through March 16.
When Griffin, a young man from New York City volunteers for a project in Uganda, he finds himself on a journey that will change his life forever. Inspired by a true story, this rousing new musical exposes the challenges confronted by American aid workers around the world and explores the question: "Is changing the world possible?"
Witness Uganda is the recipient of the 2012 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, ASCAP's Dean Kay Award, ASCAP's Harold Adamson Award, and a grant from Conde Nast c/o Summit Series. It was workshopped at Disney/ASCAP (hosted by composer Stephen Schwartz) and at the Vineyard Arts Project/Art Farm. It has been performed in concert around the world and at events including Summit Series in Lake Tahoe, The Lido Investment Symposium in Beverly Hills, The Rattlestick Theatre New Play Festival in New York City, and Patrick's Orphanage in Ndejje, Uganda.
The cast includes Griffin Matthews as Griffin, Tyrone Davis, Jr. as Ronny, Emma Hunton as Ryan, Michael Luwoye as Jacob, Kristolyn Lloyd as Grace, Nicolette Robinson as Eden, Adeola Role as Joy, and Jamar Williams as Ibrahim; with Melody Betts, Rodrick Covington, Kevin Curtis, LaTrisa Harper, Aisha Jackson, and Jamard Richardson.
Gould is the co-creator of Witness Uganda (with Griffin Matthews). He is currently working on a commission for Yale Rep with playwright Carson Kreitzer on the new musical Lempicka. He wrote and directed Free Style for LA's REPRISE Theatre Company, wrote Twilight in Manchego (Jonathan Larson Foundation Award) for the NYMF, was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons to write music for Lucy Thurber's Dillingham City, composed music for Dreyfus In Rehearsal (Theatre Row) and translated, adapted and directed Romeo and Juliet in Pulaar (Mauritania, West Africa.) He was a composing fellow in New Dramatist's Composer/Librettist studio and has composed and arranged music for Grammy Winner Desmond Child, Terrence McNally, Vanessa Williams, and more. His music has been performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Saban Theatre (LA), Symphony Space (NYC), Joe's Pub, New World Stages, Huntington Theatre Company, Rattlestick (NYC), Summit Series, and TEDx Wall Street.
Matthews graduated with a BFA in musical theater from Carnegie Mellon University, in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. He is a writer, director, actor, and philanthropist who splits his time between New York and Los Angeles. He co-wrote (book, music, and lyrics) and directed numerous staged readings of Witness Uganda including Vineyard Arts Project/Art Farm (New Writers. New Plays), Rattlestick Theater (F*!@cking Good Plays Festival), and The ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. He directed a reading of Lempicka for Yale Rep and New Dramatists. He and Matt Gould performed selections from Witness Uganda at TEDx Wall Street. As an actor, he has appeared on The Mentalist, Suburgatory, Weeds, Torchwood, 90210, Law & Order LA, Cashmere Mafia, numerous commercials, hosted several web series, and has appeared Off-Broadway and regionally.
Director Diane Paulus is the Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA. Directing credits at the A.R.T. are Pippin (winner of Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical and Best Director), The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (winner of Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Director), Prometheus Bound, Death and The Powers: The Robots 'Opera, The Donkey Show, Johnny Baseball, and Best of Both Worlds. Her other recent work includes Amaluna, Cirque du Soleil's newest creation which had its world premiere in Montreal in April 2012; The Public Theater's revival of HAIR on Broadway (2009 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical, nominated for 8 Tony Awards including Best Director, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama League Award for Best Revival of a Musical), and London's West End; Kiss Me, Kate (Glimmerglass Opera) and Lost Highway (ENO co-production with the Young Vic.) Her opera credits include The Magic Flute (Canadian Opera Company), Il mondo della luna (Hayden Planetarium in New York); Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Turn Of The Screw, Cosi fan tutte, and the Monteverdi trilogy Il ritorno d'Ulisse in patria, L'incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo (Chicago Opera Theater). She is a Professor of the Practice of Theater in Harvard University's English Department, and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Boston Conservatory. Paulus received The Drama League's 2012 Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.
Moultrie is a Princess Grace Award-winning choreographer who has created dances for Alvin Ailey, Milwaukee Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Cincinnati Ballet, The Juilliard Dance Ensemble and the Juilliard School, North Canada Dance Theatre, Colorado Ballet, and Atlanta Ballet among others, as well as for Beyoncé's Tour. He has performed in the original casts of Billy Elliot, Hairspray, and Elton John's Aida on Broadway, the Color Purple at the ALLIANCE THEATRE, and West Side Story at La Scala in Milan.
Set designer Tom Pye's Broadway credits include All My Sons, The Testament of Mary, Top Girls, Cyrano de Bergerac, Medea, and Fiddler on The Roof. He created sets for Sinatra on London's West End, John Gabriel Borkman for BAM, and Happy Days, Mother Courage and Measure for Measure for Complicité's world tours. Opera credits include Eugene Onegin at the MET, Death in Venice at La Scala, Milan; and The Cunning Little Vixen at Glyndebourne, among others. His future projects include The Death of Klinghoffer for the MET.
ESosa has previously designed costumes for A.R.T. The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (Tony nomination) and Best of Both Worlds. His other Broadway credits include Motown and Topdog/Underdog. Off-Broadway and regional credits include Meet Vera Stark (Lucille Lortel Award) and Water by the Spoonful for Second Stage, The Capeman for The Public Theatre, Father Comes Home from the Wars and Romeo and Juliet for New York TheatreWorks; Once on this Island for CenterStage; and Gleam for Williamstown Theater Festival, among others.
Maruti Evans designed sets and lights for Hansel and Gretel, and lights for Mouth Wide Open and Alice vs Wonderland at A.R.T. Other credits include Elsewhere and Liederabend at BAM, Master and Margarita at Bard Summerscape, An Oresteia at Classic Stage, and Sweeney Todd for Virginia Opera. He received the Drama Desk Sam Norkin Award 2013 for Tiny Dynamite and Pilo Family Circus and Drama Desk nominations for In the Heat of the Night, Slaughterhouse 5, and Blindness.
Jonathan Deans is the sound designer for A.R.T.'s The Heart of Robin Hood, as well as Pippin (Tony nomination) on Broadway. His other credits include Carrie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Spiderman, La Cage aux Folles (Tony nomination), Young Frankenstein, Seussical, The Music Man, Fosse, Parade, Candide, Ragtime, among others. He has created sound for eight Cirque du Soleil productions, including KA, OVO, and Corteo.
Video Designer Peter Nigrini is a New York designer/media artist. His video credits include Gore Vidal's the Best Man on Broadway, FELA! at The Public Theatre, The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity at Second Stage, and David Byrne and Fat-Boy Slim's Here Lies Love. He collaborated on several productions with RoBert Woodruff at Yale Rep, including Autumn Sonata, In a Year of 13 Moons, and Notes from the Underground. He is one of the founders of Nature Theater of Oklahoma, designing all aspects of their productions.
The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University is a leading force in the American theater, producing groundbreaking work in Cambridge and beyond. The A.R.T. was founded in 1980 by Robert Brustein, who served as Artistic Director until 2002, when he was succeeded by RoBert Woodruff. Diane Paulus began her tenure in 2008, and has since advanced the A.R.T.'s core mission to expand the boundaries of theater by programming events that immerse audiences in transformative theatrical experiences.
Throughout its history, the A.R.T. has been honored with many distinguished awards, including consecutive Tony Awards for Best Revival of a Musical for Pippin (2013) and The Gershwins' Porgy and Bess (2012), both of which Paulus directed, a Pulitzer Prize, a Jujamcyn Prize for outstanding contribution to the development of creative talent, the Tony Award for Best Regional Theater, and numerous Elliot Norton and I.R.N.E. Awards.
The A.R.T. engages with artists around the world to investigate new ways in which to develop and create work. It is currently developing a number of multi-year projects, including the Civil War Project, an initiative that will culminate in the staging of three new works in the 2014/15 seasons. Under Paulus's leadership, the A.R.T.'s club theater, OBERON, has become an incubator for local and emerging artists and has attracted national attention for its innovative programming and business models.
As the professional theater on the campus of Harvard University, the A.R.T. catalyzes discourse, interdisciplinary collaboration, and creative exchange among a wide range of academic departments and institutions, students and faculty, acting as a conduit between its community of artists and the university. A.R.T. artists also teach courses in directing, dramatic literature, acting, voice, design, and dramaturgy. The A.R.T. Institute for Advanced Theater Training, which is run in partnership with the Moscow Art Theater School, offers graduate-level training in acting, dramaturgy, and voice.
Dedicated to making great theater accessible, the A.R.T. actively engages more than 5,000 community members and local students annually in project-based partnerships, workshops, conversations with artists, and other enrichment activities both at the theater and across the Greater Boston area.
Through all of these initiatives, the A.R.T. is dedicated to producing world-class performances in which the audience is central to the theatrical experience.
The Loeb Drama Center, located at 64 Brattle Street, Harvard Square, Cambridge, is fully accessible. ASL interpreted and audio described performances are available at select productions. Visit americanrepertorytheater.org/access for more information.