Jon Royal Directs CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC For Actors Bridge March 22-31

Jon Royal Directs CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC For Actors Bridge March 22-31
Briana Booker and Nettie Kraft
-photos by Rick Malkin

Actors Bridge Ensemble presents the Nashville premiere of Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine, adapted for the stage by Stephen Sachs and directed by Jon Royal, March 22-31, at the Actors Bridge Studio at Darkhorse Chapel.

Published in 2014 as a book of poetry and prose, Citizen: An American Lyric won numerous awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award in Poetry, Los Angeles Times Book Prize, NAACP Image Award, the PEN Open Book Award and was listed as one of the best books of the year by The New Yorker, Boston Globe, The Atlantic, BuzzFeed, NPR. Los Angeles Times, Publishers Weekly, Slate, Time Out New York and many others.

As a play, Citizen: An American Lyric is described as "a searing, poetic riff on race in America, fusing prose, poetry, movement, music, and the visual image. Snapshots, vignettes, on the acts of everyday racism. Some of these encounters are slights, seeming slips of the tongue, and some are intentional offensives in the classroom, at the supermarket, at home, on the tennis court with Serena Williams, online, on TV-everywhere, all the time. Those "did-that-really-just-happen-did-they-really-just-say-that" slurs that happen every day and enrage in the moment and later steep poisonously in the mind. And, of course, those larger incidents that become national or international firestorms. As Rankine writes, 'This is how you are a citizen.'"

Jon Royal Directs CITIZEN: AN AMERICAN LYRIC For Actors Bridge March 22-31
Jon Royal
- photo by : Ashley Litchford,
PirateSiren Photography

"For me, Citizen: An American Lyric is a collective reflection," says director Jon Royal. "It's what happens when you take the time and remember the accumulated, seemingly small ways you have been dehumanized, or othered over the course of your life. You simultaneously question your sanity while questioning why you didn't behave differently in every single moment. I think everyone needs insight into this because we are all sharing space together."

Royal's cast includes Nettie Kraft, Briana Booker, Jack Chambers, Alicia Haymer, DéYonté Jenkins, and Shawn Whitsell. Citizen: An American Lyric is produced by Cynthia Harris and Vali Forrister. Jon Ryal directs, with stage Management by Kat Tierney-Smith, lighting design by Richard Davis of Ardee Design Group, projection design by Alex Drinnen, sound design by Jack Chambers and costume Design by Colleen Garatoni. Videography is by Eden Gerlock and Evan Mattingly, and photography by Rick Malkin

PERFORMANCE SCHEDULE: FRIDAY, MARCH 22 at 7:30 P.M.; SATURDAY, MARCH 23 at 7:30 P.M.; SUNDAY, MARCH 24 at 6 P.M.; WEDNESDAY, MARCH 27 at 7:30 P.M.; THURSDAY, MARCH 28 at 7:30 P.M.; FRIDAY, MARCH 29 at T 7:30 P.M.; SATURDAY, MARCH 30 at 7:30 P.M.; and SUNDAY, MARCH 31 at 6 P.M. Tickets are $25 in advance; $30 at the door; and students with a valid ID are $20. For tickets, go to

Free parking is available on 47th Avenue, in the lower lot behind McDonald's at 47th and Alabama Avenue, in the SunTrust lot at 46th and Charlotte Avenue and in Richland Park.

Actors Bridge Ensemble strives to make our performances and facilities accessible to all our patrons. Due to the intimate size of our venues, we have a limited number of accessible seats; please indicate any special needs when purchasing tickets. You can reach us by phone at 615-498-4077 or email at

ABOUT Claudia Rankine Recipient of the 2016 MacArthur Fellowship, Claudia Rankine is the author of five collections of poetry including Citizen: An American Lyric and Don't Let Me Be Lonely; two plays including Provenance of Beauty: A South Bronx Travelogue; and is the editor of several anthologies including The Racial Imaginary: Writers on Race in the Life of the Mind. Her first published play, The White Card, is forthcoming with Graywolf Press in 2019. She also co-produces a video series, "The Situation," alongside John Lucas, and is the founder of the Open Letter Project: Race and the Creative Imagination. Among her numerous awards and honors, Rankine is the recipient of the Poets & Writers' Jackson Poetry Prize and fellowships from the Lannan Foundation and the National Endowment of the Arts.

ABOUT Stephen Sachs Stephen Sachs is an award-winning playwright and director and the co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre in Los Angeles, which he co-founded in 1990. He is the author of fourteen produced plays, including his Deaf/Hearing love story, Arrival & Departure (Critic's Choice, Los Angeles Times), his stage adaptation of William Goldman's screenplay for All the President's Men, his stage adaptation of Claudia Rankine's Citizen: An American Lyric, and Bakersfield Mist (2012 Elliot Norton Award, Best New Play).

ABOUT ACTORS BRIDGE ENSEMBLE For 24 years, Actors Bridge has been telling stories Nashville needs to hear as we produce socially conscious plays, create new work, train theater artists, and expand what counts as theater in our community. We are locally born and bred with a deep commitment to reflecting our city back to herself. We offer a home for emerging artists to develop their voice and for established artists to take new risks. We have produced over 100 plays, including 14 world premieres and 80 Nashville premieres. Actors Bridge is the home of Act Like a GRRRL. The company is led by co-founder Vali Forrister. For more information, go to

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