James Still's LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT'S SHOULDER to Play American Blues Theater This Spring
"Pink Previews", where tickets sales benefit the Lynn Sage Foundation for breast cancer research, are February 5 - 7 following the regular schedule. Opening night is Thursday, Feb. 11, 2016 at 7:30 p.m. The performance schedule is Thursdays - Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. with additional Saturday matinees, February 27 and March 5 at 3 p.m. Tickets for "Pink Preview" performances are $19. Regular run performances tickets are $29 Thursdays and Fridays and $39 Saturdays and Sundays. Opening night tickets are $49 and include access to the post-show reception. Tickets are on sale at 773.404.7336 or AmericanBluesTheater.com.
Before Lee Daniels' THE BUTLER, playwright James Still shared the real-life, inspirational story of Alonzo Fields (Black Theater Alliance Award winner Manny Buckley*), grandson of a freed slave, who grew up in an all-black town in southern Indiana. Forced by the Depression to give up his dreams of becoming an opera singer, Fields accepts a job at the White House and served there for 21 years. This tour-de-force solo play is told from the unique perspective of serving four U.S. presidents and their families: Herbert Hoover, Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Dwight Eisenhower.
Director Timothy Douglas commented, "Long before the election of President Barack Obama, there was an African American man who, for 21 years, had very much been running things at the White House. It is with great honor and eagerness that I return to Chicago to stage this intimate and moving tribute composed by longtime friend and colleague James Still."
The production team for LOOKING OVER THE PRESIDENT'S SHOULDER includes Brian Sidney Bembridge (scenic and light design), Christopher J. Neville* (costume design), Rick Sims* (sound design), Amanda Herrmann (prop design), Razor Wintercastle (stage manager), Pat Fries (production manager), Charlie Marie McGrath (assistant to the director), Michael Trudeau (technical director), Jason Shivers (master electrician) and Eileen Rozycki (scenic painter). *Denotes Ensemble member or Artistic Affiliate of American Blues Theater.
American Blues Theater offers free post-show events Sundays February 14 -28.
ABOUT JAMES STILL, playwright - James Still's award-winning plays have been produced at theatres throughout the United States, Canada, Europe, Japan, China and Australia. He is the playwright-in-residence at the Indiana Repertory Theatre, artistic affiliate with American Blues, a winner of the William Inge Festival's Otis Guernsey New Voices in American Theatre Award, the Medallion for Sustained Achievement from the Children's Theatre Foundation of America and the Charlotte B. Chorpenning Playwright Award for Distinguished Body of Work. He is an elected member of the National Theatre Conference and a member in the College of Fellows of the American Theatre. Three of Still's plays have received the Distinguished Play Award from the American Alliance for Theatre & Education. His work has twice been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. His plays have been developed and workshopped at the Sundance Playwrights Lab, the New Harmony Project, the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center, the Lark Play Development Center, Telluride Playwrights Festival, the Bonderman Playwriting for Youth National Competition & Symposium and New Visions/New Voices at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts. Still grew up in a small town in Kansas, graduated from the University of Kansas and lives on the West Coast.
ABOUT TIMOTHY DOUGLAS, director - Timothy Douglas is a theatre director, actor, writer and educator, most recently represented by his critically acclaimed Richard II for Shakespeare & Company, and off-Broadway with Bronte for the Alloy Theatre Company. He is an associate artist at Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park where he directed his African-American take on Horton Foote's The Trip to Bountiful and has directed nationally and internationally, counting among his many credits the world premieres of August Wilson's Radio Golf for Yale Rep and Rajiv Joseph's The Lake Effect for Silk Road Rising, as well as his critically acclaimed Caribbean-inspired Much Ado About Nothing for the Folger Shakespeare Theatre, the premiere of a new translation/adaptation of Ibsen's Rosmersholm off-Broadway for Oslo Elsewhere, and Mourning Becomes Electra and Marivaux's Changes of the Heart for Remy Bumppo Theatre Company where he served for a time as artistic director.
ABOUT MANNY BUCKLEY, actor - Manny Buckley joined the ensemble of American Blues Theater in 2012. Most recently, Buckley was seen in 1984 at Steppenwolf, and in Waiting For Lefty at American Blues. He originated the role of "Carson" in Hit the Wall (The Inconvenience), which sold out houses at Steppenwolf's Garage Rep and Theater on the Lake. His performance earned him the "Best Actor Award" from the Chicago Reader and a Black Theater Alliance Award as "Best Featured Actor." He has also performed with Steppenwolf for Young Audiences in Of Mice and Men, House Theater of Chicago's Dorian, Chicago Dramatists' Southbridge, Profiles Theater's Hellcab, Next Theater's The Piano Teacher, Pavement Group's Harry and the Thief, City Lit's Comrades Mine and Gift Theater's The Last Days of Judas Iscariot and Streamers. With a wicked fastball, Buckley was on national tour as "Satchel Paige" in the original touring production of The Satchel Paige Story. He also had the privilege of performing at the Kennedy Center and in the only United States selection to appear in the English Language Theatre Festival in Bratislava, Slovakia. His other credits include "Chicago Fire," "Under Covers," "Sugar" and "Pilgrim."
American Blues Theater is the premier American theater producing visceral theatrical works while engaging its audience in missions of local service agencies. American Blues Theater illuminates the American ideas of freedom, equality, and opportunity in the plays produced and communities served. The multi-generational and interdisciplined artists have established the second-oldest professional Equity Ensemble theater in Chicago. The 39-member Ensemble has 539 combined years of collaboration on stage. As of 2015, they've individually received 172 Joseph Jefferson Awards and nominations that celebrate excellence in Chicago theater and over 28 Black Theatre Alliance Awards. The artists are honored with Pulitzer Prize nominations, Academy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, Emmy Awards and numerous other accolades. The American Blues Theater Ensemble includes all four Founders Ed Blatchford, Rick Cleveland, James Leaming, and William Payne with Dawn Bach, Matthew Brumlow, Manny Buckley, Kate Buddeke, Sarah Burnham, Dara Cameron, Casey Campbell, Brian Claggett, Dennis Cockrum, Austin Cook, Laura Coover, Lauri Dahl, Kristin DeiTos, Joe Foust, Tom Geraty, Cheryl Graeff, Marty Higginbotham, Jaclyn Holsey, Lindsay Jones, Samantha Jones, Nambi E. Kelley, Kevin R. Kelly, Steve Key, Ed Kross, Warren Levon, Michael Mahler, Kelli Marino, Heather Meyers, John Mohrlein, Jim Ortlieb, Suzanne Petri, Carmen Roman, Editha Rosario, Sarah E. Ross and Gwendolyn Whiteside.