Katori Hall's THE MOUNTAINTOP Comes to Central Square Theater, 1/10-2/3


Underground Railway Theater presents the recent Broadway hit and the 2010 Oliver Award Winner for Best New Play, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. The Mountaintop is presented in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Underground Railway Theater's Associate Artistic Director, Megan Sandberg-Zakian, directs The Mountaintop. The press performance for The Mountaintop is Monday, January 14 at 7:30PM.

April 3, 1968. Having just delivered his magnificent oration "I've Been to the Mountaintop," at Mason Temple in support of a sanitation workers' strike, Reverend DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. A maid comes to his door with coffee. An unlikely relationship is forged that ventures into the political and personal, compelling him to confront his destiny and the fate of the nation on the eve of one of the most critical moments in American History. The Mountaintop was the recipient of the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play.

Speaking of the historical and cultural significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the great American playwright August Wilson once said: "I find it criminal that after hundreds of years of slavery in this country, we do not celebrate Emancipation Proclamation."

Underground Railway Theater's mission is to respond poetically to vital questions in the activist and collaborative spirit of our namesake. As an institution, URT has always sought ways to mark and explore critical moments in contemporary culture and history. With this in mind, Katori Hall's The Mountaintop is presented in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.

DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. also spoke of the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation in an unsuccessful attempt in 1963 to press President Kennedy into issuing a Second Emancipation Proclamation to end segregation:

"There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when tour message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy..."

With 2013 marking the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Underground Railway Theater offers The Mountaintop laying the invocation of the possibility of personal and social transformation. As artists and audiences celebrate this declaration of freedom, Underground Railway Theater strives to inspire us to lean together in shaping of shared future. As part of URT's production of The Mountaintop, there will be Central Conversations (pre-show symposia and post-performance discussions) with the theme "Passing the Baton: Celebrating and Carrying Forward the Legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement" led by Charles Ogletree and others. The most up-to-date list of events is online at CentralSquareTheater.org.

The Mountaintop premiered in London in 2009 to great critical acclaim. After a sell-out run at Theatre503, the play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End, featuring British actors David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs. Harewood was nominated for Best Actor in the Evening Standard and Whatsonstage Awards and Burroughs for Best Actress in the Olivier Awards. The production won the 2010 Olivier Best New Play Award. The Mountaintop premiered on Broadway in September 2011. Samuel L. Jackson made his Broadway debut in the role of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Angela Bassett as his co-star.

Underground Railway Theater joins Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Circuit Playhouse, and Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and the Alley Theatre in presenting The Mountaintop during the 2012-2013 Season.

Katori Hall is a playwright/performer from Memphis, TN. Hall's plays include: The Mountaintop (2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play), which recently ran on Broadway at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, Hurt Village (2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Children of Killers, Hoodoo Love, Remembrance, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!, Our Lady of Kibeho, and Pussy Valley. Her awards include the Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, the Arena Stage American Voices New Play Residency, the Kate NeAl Kinley Fellowship, two Lecomte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, a NYFA Fellowship, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award, and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award. Hall is an alumna of the Lark Playwrights' Workshop, where she developed The Mountaintop, and a graduate of Columbia University, the A.R.T. at Harvard University, and the Juilliard School. She is currently a member of the Residency Five at Signature Theatre Company in New York City.

Megan Sandberg-Zakian (director) is a current recipient of the Theater Communications Group (TCG) "Future Leaders" grant to spend two seasons at Central Square Theater in the position of Associate Artistic Director of Underground Railway Theater, working on a series of publically engaged development and production projects. Most recently, Megan co-developed and directed Danny Bryck's "docu-play" about Occupy Boston, No Room For Wishing, which was co-produced by CST and Company One, and is currently touring. Other recent directing projects include co-developing The Cabaret Series (with Kami Smith) at CST, co-directing the Boston premiere of Tarell McCraney's The Brother Sister Plays at Company One (IRNE Award, Best Production; IRNE nominee, Best Director; Elliot Norton nominee, Best Production), Lydia Diamond's Harriet Jacobs at URT (Elliot Norton nominee, Best New Play; IRNE nominee, Best Ensemble, Best Actress), and the Rhode Island premiere of Hedwig and the Angry Inch at Perishable Theatre/Trinity Repertory Company (Motif Awards, Best Production, Best Set Design, Best Actor). Megan has served as Associate Artistic Director of the Providence Black Repertory Company (RI) and The 52nd Street Project (New York City). She is a graduate oF Brown University and holds an MFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Goddard College. MeganSZ.com.

About the Cast and Creative Team of THE MOUNTIANTOP

Maurice Emmanuel Parent (King) makes his Central Square Theater debut in The Mountaintop. Boston area credits: Motherf**cker with the Hat (SpeakEasy Stage Co.); Coriolanus (Commonwealth Shakespeare Co.); Troilus and Cressida, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Coriolanus, and King John (Actors' Shakespeare Project); RENT, Passing Strange, Ragtime (IRNE Nom), and Cabaret (New Repertory Theatre); Man of La Mancha (Lyric Stage Co.); 2008 Elliot Norton Award for Some Men (SpeakEasy Stage Co.); Angels in America Parts 1 and 2 (Boston Theatre Works); and The Wild Party (New Rep). Other Credits: The Rink starring Leslie Uggams and Janet Metz (Cape Playhouse); The Good War (dir. David H. Bell and Craig Carnelia - York Theatre); Hair (Barrington Stage); Ragtime (Fulton Opera House and Music Theatre of Wichita); Futurology (Classic Theatre of Harlem); and Ain't Misbehavin' for Gardner and Wife Productions, K.L. Malaysia. Resident Company member of the Actors' Shakespeare Project.

Kami Rushell Smith (Camae) was previously on Central Square Theater's stage as the title role in Underground Railway Theater's production of Harriet Jacobs (IRNE nomination - Best Actress) and as co-founder/writer/performer in The Cabaret Series. Other local credits include: Xanadu and Nine (SpeakEasy Stage Company); Big River (Lyric Stage Company); Hairspray (Reagle Music Theatre); Passing Strange, New Rep's Darling Divas Deck the Holidays, and Dessa Rose (New Repertory Theatre); Much Ado About Nothing (Actors' Shakespeare Project); The Phantom Tollbooth and The Little Mermaid (Wheelock Family Theatre); Ragtime in Concert (Marblehead Little Theatre); Macbeth (Shakespeare Now!); South Pacific, Ragtime, Beauty and the Beast, and Songs for a New World (Weathervane Playhouse); and The Life (Boston Conservatory). Upcoming: By the Way, Meet Vera Stark at Lyric Stage Company. BA in English from Carnegie Mellon, Masters in Musical Theater from Boston Conservatory. KamiRushellSmith.com.

The creative team for The Mountaintop includes Scenic designer Susan Zeeman Rogers (Car Talk: The Musical!!!, The Fever Chart, and Harriet Jacobs), Costume Designer Michael Dates, Lighting Designer David Roy (Harriet Jacobs), Sound Designer Elisheba Ittoop, Projections Designer John Oluwole ADEkoje, and Assistant to the Director Tasia A. Jones. Ed Hartiganis the Properties Artisan, Liz Hayes is the Dialect Coach, and Dominique D. Burford is the production Stage Manager, and Amanda Sheehan is the production Assistant Stage Manager.

The Mountaintop plays at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue in Cambridge, Thursday, January 10 through Sunday, February 3, 2013. Performances are Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:30PM, Fridays at 8PM, Saturdays at 3PM and 8 PM, and Sundays at 2PM. The Mondays of January 14 and 21 there will be performances at 7:30PM. There are no performances on Wednesdays, January 17 and 21. Tickets may be purchased by calling (866) 811-4111, at the Central Square Theater box office, or online at CentralSquareTheater.org. For box office hours, group discounts, and more information call (617) 576-9278 x210.

Central Square Theater (CST) is a 5-year-old nonprofit organization, created through a groundbreaking partnership between The Nora Theatre Company (The Nora) and Underground Railway Theater (URT). This collaboration has been called a model for the arts community (The Boston Foundation, Culture is our Commonwealth, and The National Collaboration Prize), as it has paired two like-minded performing arts organizations in a strategic alliance with the City of Cambridge and MIT, resulting in the development of a state-of-the-art performing arts center in the heart of Central Square. CST has a mission to support its two theaters-in-residence while maintaining a shared vision of artists and audiences creating theater vital to their communities. The Nora and URT have a combined track record of over 50 years producing award-winning theater. Located in Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts, and steeped in its multiracial, intergenerational, ethnically and economically diverse neighborhoods, the CST theater experience exudes a democratic energy where classes, races, and age groups come together to be inspired, entertained, and energized.

The balance of Central Square Theater's 2012-13 Season includes the World Premiere of OPERATION EPSILON by Alan Brody, presented by The Nora Theatre Company (March 7 - April 28, 2013); and DISTRACTED by Lisa Loomer, presented by Underground Railway Theater (May 9 - June 2, 2013). OPERATION EPSILON and DISTRACTED are both projects of Catalyst Collaborative@MIT, a science-theater collaboration between Central Square Theater's resident companies and MIT. All productions are performed at Central Square Theater, 450 Massachusetts Avenue, Central Square, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Central Square Theater is accessible to persons with special needs and to those requiring wheelchair seating.

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