Moises Kaufman Directs Daniel Beaty's THE TALLEST TREE IN THE FOREST at Kansas City Rep, Beg. Tonight
The world premiere of The Tallest Tree in the Forest, a new work about the life of African-American performer and activist Paul Robeson, written and performed by Daniel Beaty and directed by Moisés Kaufman, opens tonight, September 6 at Kansas City Repertory Theatre. The show runs through September 28 at the Rep's downtown theatre Copaken Stage, 13th and Walnut Streets. The Tallest Tree in the Forest was commissioned and developed by Tectonic Theater Project and is co-produced with La Jolla Playhouse.
As part of the show, Beaty will perform many of Robeson's signature songs including "Ol' Man River," "Steal Away" and "Ballad for the Americans."
Paul Robeson (1898-1976) was a twentieth-century Renaissance Man who blended athletics, artistry and humanitarianism into an inspiring legacy. Robeson graduated with honors from Rutgers University in 1919 and Columbia Law School in 1923. Finding few opportunities for blacks in the legal profession and gaining a reputation for public speaking, Robeson joined a New York theatre group where he befriended playwright Eugene O'Neill and appeared in his plays All God's Chillun Got Wings (1924) and The Emperor Jones (1924 in New York, 1925 in London and the 1933 film). His other acclaimed acting roles include Othello (1930 in London and 1943 in New York) and the hit musical Show Boat, in which he gained worldwide fame with his performance of the song "Ol' Man River."
Throughout his stage and film career, Robeson was a passionate and frequently controversial advocate for social justice in the U.S. and worldwide. As a result of his criticism of the U.S. government and his affiliation with communism, he was blacklisted during the McCarthy era. Robeson never backed away from his political beliefs and never apologized. He retired from public life in 1963 and died January 23, 1976 at age 77.
The Tallest Tree in the Forest's creator and performer Daniel Beaty is an award-winning actor, singer, writer and composer. Two of his solo works have received critically-acclaimed Off-Broadway runs: Through the Night (2006) and Emergency (2007, Obie Award for Excellence). Beaty has worked throughout the U.S., Europe and Africa, performing with artists such as Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, Jill Scott, Sonia Sanchez, MC Lyte, Mos Def, Tracy Chapman, Deepak Chopra and Phylicia Rashad. He holds a B.A. with Honors in English and Music from Yale University and an M.F.A. in Acting from the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco.
Award-winning playwright and director Moisés Kaufman returns to the Rep having directed the theatre's 2009 hit production of Into the Night. Most recently Kaufman directed The Heiress on Broadway starring Jessica Chastain (Zero Dark Thirty) and Dan Stevens (Matthew Crawley on the PBS hit "Downton Abbey"). His many Broadway, Off-Broadway and regional theatre directing credits include A Common Pursuit, The Nightingale, 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda, an adaptation of Tennessee Williams' One Arm, the Pulitzer Prize-nominated Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams, and the Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning I Am My Own Wife. Mr. Kaufman's plays Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and The Laramie Project are among the most performed plays in America over the last decade. Mr. Kaufman is a Guggenheim Fellow.