Geva's 2018-2019 Season Continues With THURGOOD

Geva's 2018-2019 Season Continues With THURGOODGeva Theatre Center presents Thurgood, by George Stevens, Jr. and directed by Lou Bellamy, in the Elaine P. Wilson Stage from October 16 through November 18.

The inspiring story of the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States. Thurgood spans the impressive 58-year career of Justice Thurgood Marshall, from his early days as the civil rights lawyer arguing the landmark case of Brown vs. Board of Education, to the end of institutionalized segregation in 1954, and his appointment to the highest court in the land.

George Stevens, Jr.'s interest in Thurgood Marshall began with a miniseries he wrote and directed, Separate But Equal, the story of the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation case on which Marshall was the lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Stevens is the founder of the American Film Institute and a writer, director, and producer. Motion pictures include The Thin Red Line; George Stevens: A Filmmaker's Journey; John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums; and The Diary of Anne Frank. Work for television includes Separate But Equal with Sidney Poitier and Burt Lancaster, The Murder of Mary Phagan with Jack Lemmon and Peter Gallagher, The Kennedy Center Honors (1978 - 2007), The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards (1973 - 1998), America's Millennium, and D-Day to Berlin. Alfred A. Knopf recently published his book, Conversations with the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood's Golden Age. Awards include eight awards from the Writers Guild of America, two George Foster Peabody Awards, and two Emmys. Thurgood is his first play and premiered in 2006 at Westport Country Playhouse. It opened on Broadway at the Booth Theatre in 2008. The play was screened on HBO in 2011.

Making his Geva debut as Thurgood Marshall is Lester Purry. Veteran actor Lester Purry was introduced to the world of theatre during his senior year in high school, which led to 17 lead roles while attending Mars Hill University. Lester started acting professionally with summer stock, but it was what seemed an ambitious move to Minnesota for an actor of his "type" with only $13 in his pocket that proved to be the key to launching a long and thriving career filled with extraordinary acting opportunities. A highly respected Regional Theatre performer, Lester has graced numerous stages over his thirty-year tenure in the business, including Penumbra Theatre Company, Baltimore's Center Stage, The Philadelphia Theatre Company, Studio Theatre in Washington D.C., Arden Theatre in Philadelphia, Dallas Theatre Company, The Southern Appalachian Theatre Company, Savannah Theatre Company, Nebraska Shakespeare Festival and The Alabama Shakespeare Festival where he met lovely his wife Toni Johnson-Purry. The long time company member, credits Penumbra founder Lou Bellamy and his performance in Fool for Love during his first year in the Twin Cities, that inspired him and it was attending August Wilson's play Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at Penumbra that fueled his determination to become a Penumbra company member where he has performed in Two Trains Running, King Hedley II, Jitney, The Piano Lesson and Fences as Cory Maxson.

Thurgood is directed by Lou Bellamy. Mr. Bellamy is the founder and artistic director emeritus of Penumbra Theatre. During his 40-year tenure, Penumbra evolved into one of America's premier theatres dedicated to dramatic exploration of the African American experience. Under his leadership, Penumbra has grown to be the largest theatre of its kind in America and has produced over 40 world premieres, including August Wilson's first professional production. Penumbra is proud to have produced more of Mr. Wilson's plays than any theatre in the world. Bellamy is an OBIE Award-winning director, an accomplished actor, and for 38 years was appointed as an Associate Professor at the University of Minnesota in the Department of Theatre Arts and Dance. Mr. Bellamy most recently directed Penumbra's production of For Colored Girls.... He has directed at theatres around the U.S. including Indiana Repertory, Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Arizona Theatre Company, Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Signature Theatre, Cleveland Play House, Guthrie Theater, Kennedy Center, Kansas City Repertory, Gem Theater, Round House, Portland Playhouse, and Hartford Stage.

The creative team for Thurgood includes Vicki Smith (scenic design), Casey McNamara (costume design), Don Darnutzer (lighting design), Justin Ellington (sound design), Rasean Davonte Johnson (projection design) and Jean Gordon Ryon (dramaturg).

In addition to the 35 public performances of Thurgood, there will be six student matinees, ensuring that over 3,000 area school students will be able to learn more about this great American. Student Matinees entitle teachers and students to not only see the production, but also to enjoy surrounding programming, such as in-school Discovery Workshops, to enrich students' experience at Geva and to deepen their connection to the play and curriculum. All student matinees are currently sold out, but interested teachers can contact Eric Evans, Education Associate (eevans@gevatheatre.org) to be added to the waiting list for tickets.

The 2018-2019 Season is sponsored by ESL Federal Credit Union and Rochester Regional Health. The Honorary Season Producer is Dr. Dawn Lipson. Thurgood is produced with support from Co-Producer Harter Secrest & Emery LLP; and Media Sponsors Fox Rochester and Legends 102.7.

Thurgood begins previews on October 16, opens October 20 and runs through November 18.

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