DETROIT '67 World Premiere Begins Previews at The Public Theater Tonight
The Public Theater will begin previews for the world premiere of DETROIT '67, a Public Lab production by Dominique Morisseau, tonight, February 26. Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah, DETROIT '67 will run through Sunday, March 17 in The Public's Shiva Theater, with an official press opening on Tuesday, March 12.
It's 1967 in Detroit and Motown music gets the party started. Chelle and her brother Lank transform their basement into an after-hours joint to make ends meet. But when a mysterious woman winds her way into their lives, the siblings clash over much more than family business. As their pent-up feelings erupt, so does their city, and the flames of the '67 Detroit riots engulf them all. DETROIT '67 is presented in association with the Classical Theatre of Harlem.
The complete cast of DETROIT '67 features De'Adre Aziza (Bunny), Francois Battiste (Lank), Brandon J. Dirden (Sly), Samantha Soule (Caroline), and Michelle Wilson (Chelle).
Single tickets, priced at $15, are on sale now and can be purchased by calling (212) 967-7555, www.publictheater.org, or in person at The Public Theater box office at 425 Lafayette Street. The Library at The Public will also be open nightly for food and drink, beginning at 5:30 p.m., and Joe's Pub will continue to offer some of the best music in the city.
DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (Playwright), a writer and actress, is a recent alumni of the 2011 Public Theater Emerging Writers Group, the Women's Project Playwrights Lab, and a 2011-2012 Lark Playwrights Workshop fellow. In September 2012, her play Sunset Baby had its world premiere at the Gate Theater in London, UK. Dominique's inaugural play, Follow Me To Nellie's, was developed at the 2010 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference and produced at Premiere Stages in July 2011. Her produced one-acts include: Third Grade (FTT Festival), Black at Michigan (Cherry Lane Studio/DUTF), Socks, Roses Are Played Out and Love and Nappiness (Center Stage, ATH). Dominique's commissions include: love.lies.liberation (The New Group), Bumrush (Hip Hop Theater Festival) and The Masterpiece (Harlem9/HSA). Dominique is currently developing a 3-play cycle on her hometown of Detroit, entitled "The Detroit Projects". The first play in the series, Detroit '67, was developed at The Public Theater and was a finalist for the 2011 O'Neill National Playwrights Conference. The second play in the series, Paradise Blue, was developed June 2011 at the Voice and Vision Retreat, the Hansberry Project at ACT in Seattle, and at Dartmouth with New York Theatre Workshop. Her work has also been published in NY Times bestseller- "Chicken Soup for the African American Soul". Dominique is a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award Honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the 2011 Princess Grace Award, a recipient of the Elizabeth George commission from South Coast Rep, a commendation from the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, and the 2012 PoNY (Playwrights of New York) Fellow.
Kwame Kwei-Armah (Director) is Artistic Director of Baltimore Centerstage and Chancellor of the University of the Arts London. He has served as Writer in Residence for the Old Vic and BBC Radio. Amongst his many plays, Elmina's Kitchen, Fix Up, and Statement of Regret premiered at the Royal National Theatre of Great Britain, with Elmina's Kitchen transferring to London's West End, making him the first Black British playwright to have that honor. Kwame was awarded an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II on her Jubilee Honours List for Services to Drama. His other awards include the Olivier Award, BAFTA nominations, Evening Standard Charles Wintor Award, Screen Nation Award, 100 Black Men of Britain Public Figure Award, GPA Man of the year, and the RECON Local Community Leadership Award. He also served as a Good Will Ambassador for Trade for Christian Aid (2003-2008). He is currently on the board of TCG and serves on the Steinberg Playwright Award Advisory Committee. Plays he has directed at Centerstage include Things of Dry Hours, The Whipping Man, Enemy of the People, and The Mountaintop. At the Tricycle Theatre he has directed Let There be Love, and Seize the Day. He also directed the opening ceremony of the World Festival of Black Arts and Culture in Dakar, Senegal.
De'Adre Aziza (Bunny) last appeared at The Public in Passing Strange. Her Broadway credits include Passing Strange and Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown. Her additional Off-Broadway credits include A Civil War Christmas, Doris to Darlene A Cautionary Valentine, and Dream on Monkey Mountain. Her film and television credits include Red Hook Summer, Miracle at St. Anna, "30 Rock," "Ugly Americans," and "Sex and the City."
Francois Battiste (Lank) has appeared at The Public in The Winter's Tale, The Merchant of Venice, and The Good Negro. His Broadway credits include Magic/Bird and Prelude to a Kiss. He has also appeared Off-Broadway in Broke-ology and 10 Things To Do Before I Die. His film and television credits include One Week; Delivering the Goods; 5150; "Person of Interest"; "Are We There Yet?"; and "The Good Wife."
Brandon J. Dirden (Sly) has appeared on Broadway in Clybourne Park, Enron, and Prelude to a Kiss. His Off-Broadway credits include the recent production of The Piano Lesson, Peter and the Starcatcher and The First Breeze of Summer. His television credits include "The Big C" and "House of Payne."
Samantha Soule (Caroline) has appeared on Broadway in The Philanthropist, Coram Boy, and Dinner at Eight. Her Off-Broadway credits include A Summer Day, A Little Journey, Gabriel, The Voysey Inheritance, White Chocolate, and Valhalla. Her film and television credits include Revolutionary Road; "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit"; and "Smash."
MICHELLE WILSON (Chelle) has appeared regionally in Follow Me to Nellie's; The Trial of One Short; Unspeakable: Richard Pryor; Blues for an Alabama Sky; Fahrenheit 451; State of Miss. vs. Emmitt Till, and For Colored Girls, among others. Her film and television credits include Reverse Cowgirl, Sink, The Bicycle, VoiceBox 3000, and "ER."
Now in its sixth season, Public Lab at The Public provides audiences with access to new work and Shakespeare with low priced tickets and provides emerging and established artists with a platform to further develop their work on stage and in performances with scaled-down productions (shorter rehearsal periods and smaller budgets.) Past Public Lab shows include Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson by Alex Timbers and Michael Friedman; The Good Negro by Tracey Scott Wilson; Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 8 & 9) by Suzan-Lori Parks; Neighbors by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; Urge for Going by Mona Mansour; That Hopey Changey Thing, Sweet and Sad and Sorry by Richard Nelson; The Total Bent by Stew and Heidi Rodewald; and the introduction of Shakespeare into Public Lab with Richard Thomas in Timon of Athens, Renee Elise Goldsberry in Love's Labor's Lost, and Jay O. Sanders in Titus Andronicus.
Completed in October 2012, the revitalization of The Public Theater's downtown home at Astor Place physically manifests the Company's core mission of sparking new dialogues and increasing accessibility for artists and audiences by dramatically opening up its landmark building to the street and community, and transforming the lobby into a public piazza for artists, students, and audiences. Designed by Ennead Architects and constructed by Westerman Construction, the project encompasses enhancements to the building's interior and exterior while preserving the historic structure. Key elements of the design include infrastructure updates to the 158-year old building, as well as construction of new exterior entry stair and glass canopy; installation of ramps for improved accessibility; an expanded and refurbished lobby; the addition of a mezzanine level with a new lounge, The Library at The Public, designed by the Rockwell Group; expansion and remodeling of restroom facilities; and comprehensive exterior restoration, ensuring stability of the landmark façade.
Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oskar Eustis and Executive Director Patrick Willingham, The Public Theater is the only theater in New York that produces Shakespeare and the classics, musicals, contemporary and experimental pieces in equal measure. The Public continues the work of its visionary founder, Joe Papp, by acting as an advocate for the theater as an essential cultural force, and leading and framing dialogue on some of the most important issues of our day. Creating theater for one of the largest and most diverse audience bases in New York City for nearly 60 years, today the Company engages audiences in a variety of venues-including its landmark downtown home at Astor Place, which houses five theaters and Joe's Pub; the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, home to its beloved, free Shakespeare in the Park; and the Mobile Unit, which tours Shakespearean productions for underserved audiences throughout New York City's five boroughs. The Public's wide range of programming includes free Shakespeare in the Park, the bedrock of the Company's dedication to making theater accessible to all, new and experimental stagings at The Public at Astor Place, and a range of artist and audience development initiatives including its Public Forum series, which brings together theater artists and professionals from a variety of disciplines for discussions that shed light on social issues explored in Public productions. The Public Theater is located on property owned by the City of New York and receives annual support from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. The LuEsther T. Mertz Charitable Trust provides leadership support for The Public Theater's year-round activities. For more information, visit www.publictheater.org
Pictured: Brandon J. Dirden, Michelle Wilson, Samantha Soule, De'Adre Aziza, and Francois Battiste in Detroit '67, written by Dominique Morisseau and directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah. Photo credit: Joseph Moran.