Spike Lee's COUNTY OF KINGS Opens at The Public Theater Tonight, 10/12
Academy Award nominated director Spike Lee, the award winning Culture Project, Steve Colman and Jayson Jackson in association with The Public Theater is presenting County of Kings. Written and performed by Lemon Andersen (Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam), and directed by Elise Thoron, County of Kings will open tonight, October 12 at The Public Theater. The show has been in previews since September 29 and will run for a six week limited engagement.
"Lemon is a young man who possesses a wealth of talent and he knows how to tell a story. He joins the legacy of storytellers from Brooklyn," says presenter and filmmaker Spike Lee.
Featured last year as part of The Public Theatre's Under The Radar Festival, Lemon Andersen's County of Kings gives a tough, yet poignant biographical account of a good kid growing up in an unforgiving environment in this one man journey. Weaving hard- edged drama with urban poetry, the Brooklyn hip-hop artist spins his own coming-of-age memoir in this jarring and poignant solo performance. A true story of finding passion and purpose against all odds, Lemon paints a vivid portrait of his difficult and sometimes humorous experiences growing up during the most influential cultural movement of our time, the birth of hip-hop.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Lemon Andersen has been featured as a regular on HBO's "Def Poetry" presented by Russell Simmons and was also an original cast member and writer of Russell Simmons Tony Award winning Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. On screen Lemon has appeared opposite Denzel Washington in Spike Lee's Inside Man and The Soloist starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr.
Culture Project is New York's premier destination for artistic work that investigates urgent social and political issues. By fostering innovative collaboration between human rights organizations and theatre, music and film artists, Culture Project aims to inspire and impact public dialogue and policy, encouraging democratic participation in the most urgent matters of our time.
Founded in 1996 by Artistic Director Allan Buchman, Culture Project has premiered celebrated shows including The Exonerated, Sarah Jones' Bridge & Tunnel, Guantanamo: Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, Lawrence Wright's My Trip To Al-Qaeda, Tings Dey Happen, the Lucille Lortel Award-winning World Premiere of George Packer's Betrayed and Temple University's acclaimed production of In Conflict. Most recently, Culture Project produced Breaking the Silence, Beating the Drum, a groundbreaking concert at the United Nations to commemorate the abolition of the Transatlantic Slave Trade.
Steve Colman co-wrote and co-starred in the Tony Award-winning Russell Simmons' Def Poetry Jam on Broadway. A long-time creative collaborator with his wife Sarah Jones (stage actress), he was the co-creator andassistant director of Jones's Tony Award-winning show Bridge and Tunnel. His theater work and collaborations with Jones have garnered two Drama Desk nominations, an Obie, a Theater World Award, and a Helen Hayes Award. Colman began his poetry career at the Nuyorican Poets Café on Manhattan's Lower East Side. He won the National Poetry Slam championship as a member of the Nuyorican Poets Café slam team and also received the Café's Fresh Poet Award. Colman co-authored Burning Down the House (SoftSkull Press), and Russell Simmons' Def
Poetry Jam on Broadway and More (Atria Books). He is a graduate of MacalesterCollege (BA) and Case Western Reserve University (MA).
If you bring up the name Jayson Jackson, it's usually associated with legendary music artists and groundbreaking talent. Wether managing Lauryn Hill, Mos Def or new cutting edge genre benders such Santigold and Spankrock, Jackson is a career builder. His gift is really spotting the hunger in the eye of a talented and passionate artist. His job is simply delivering that talent to the worldstage, regardless of whatever tools the industry dictates at the time. A rare talent he spied early on was the slam poet/activist Sarah Jones. Knowing her knack for mimicry, comedic timing and biting, flawless political satire (pre Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) Jackson, Colman and Jones set up her one-woman show at the Culture Project with Alan Buchman alongside Meryl Streep as Executive Producer. The off Broadway show, entitled Bridge & Tunnel would go on to win an Obie Award, an Inner Critics Circle Award and run for 8 straight sold out months. Inevitably it moved to Broadway and garnered a Tony Award for Special Performance in 2006. Having flourished through 2 major technological shifts, Jayson sees the new entertainment landscape as an open playing field for artists who are dedicated to their craft. In his mind, talent and passion trumps
anything. The real trick is finding the right way to present that passion and talent to the world. Jayson currently resides in New York City and is a devoted Yankees fan.
Tom Wirtshafter is the Executive Director of the Barrow Street Theatre and a producer of OUR TOWN. Among his past productions are ADDING MACHINE, GONE MISSING, NO CHILD,
ORSON'S SHADOW, BUG and TJ AND DAVE. Tom is a board member of Culture Project, Town Hall
Foundation and Chashama.
As a writer, Elise Thoron's musical dramas include Life? or Theater? based on the paintings of Charlotte Solomon; Green Violin, with composer Frank London of the Klezmatics, based on murals Marc Chagall painted for the Soviet Yiddish theater (also published in 9 Contemporary Jewish Plays, University of Texas Press), and Prozak and the Platypus, with singer-song writer Jill Sobule, (also distributed as an album and graphic novel). Elise has created cross-cultural exchanges for over twenty years with Russian and American theater artists with support from the Trust for Mutual Understanding and the Russian Ministry of Culture. She directed the first Sam Shepherd play in Moscow, adapted/directed, The Great Gatsby in Russian, which played in repertory at the Pushkin Theater for over nine years. As Associate Artistic Director at the American Place Theater, Elise developed and directed numerous plays and solo shows, which have gone on to other venues the United States, currently, County of Kings by Tony award winning poet Lemon Andersen, at the Public Theater with Spike Lee & Culture Project. She is a founder of the highly successful theater literacy program Literature to Life (now nation-wide) at American Place. She has just begun her first collaboration in Japan: "Recycling" with paper artist Kyoko Ibe on an Asian Cultural Council
The scenic design for County of Kings is by Doug Stein and Peter Ksander; lighting design is by Jane Cox and Lily Fossner; original music and sound design are by Rob Kaplowitz and Matt Stein. The production manager is BD White.
County of Kings plays Tuesday through Sunday at The Public Theater's Newman Stage, 425 Lafayette Street. Tickets are $50 for weekday performances and $60 for weekend performances. In addition, there will be a limited allotment of $25 tickets available for each performance. Tickets are available in person at 425 Lafayette Street, online at www.publictheater.org or by phoning (212) 967-7555.
For more information about County of Kings visit www.cultureproject.org.
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