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Clifton Duncan, Edward Gero and More Star in Benefit Reading of THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III

The reading will take place on Monday, January 11th at 7:30PM EST.

Clifton Duncan, Edward Gero and More Star in Benefit Reading of THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III

RED BULL THEATER today announced that its 2020-21 offerings will continue next month with a benefit reading of The African Company Presents Richard III by Carlyle Brown, directed by Carl Cofield, featuring Clifton Duncan, Edward Gero, Dion Johnstone, Paul Niebanck, Antoinette Robinson, Charlayne Woodard, and more to be announced. The online reading will be broadcast LIVE on Monday January 11th at 7:30 PM EST.

"Exactly 200 years ago, the real events that form the plot of The African Company... took place-not much more than a stone's throw from where I'm sitting typing these words at this moment in New York City, isolated. What I wouldn't give to be in a theater full of people of all races and colors hearing Richard III live and passionately enacted right now! Carlyle Brown's moving play takes place in the midst of a dramatic conflict between two companies performing Shakespeare-one an established white company, one an exciting new Black company. The battle in this country over who gets to tell Shakespeare's stories-and who should-has raged ever since, right through the Brustein/Wilson debates and up to our present day. Carlyle's play gives us a personal and poetic window through which to look in on our ever-present racially charged past, helping us better understand our own times, and how we all might think about who gets to tell whose stories," said Artistic Director Berger

In 1821-forty years before the abolition of slavery, and fifty years before Black Americans earned the right to vote-two productions of Shakespeare's Richard III are On the Rialto. One is presented by the African Company of New York, known for putting on plays in a downtown Manhattan theatre to which both Black and white audiences flocked. The other is helmed by Stephen Price, an uptown theater impresario who, fearful of the African Company's production, which is garnering large white audiences, manipulates the law and employs his privilege to shutter the competition. Shakespeare is the cultural battleground in this inventive, emotional, and energetic retelling of a pivotal moment in American theater history. Speaking about his play at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Carlyle Brown explains "We now live in an era that is reflective of early 19th Century America. We are becoming a world as our early American world began as a multicultural world. We are living in a world, where at the very least artists anyway, are making culture out of cultures. And we are seeing in the world today not just a clash of cultures, but unification. Who owns Shakespeare one might ask? You might as well ask who has the right to breathe, to dream, to express themselves, to be themselves, to live in and make a meaningful contribution to their world. I submit to you that as human beings this is an obligation and responsibility for all of us."

Carlyle Brown's first professional theater production was his Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show at Penumbra Theatre Company in 1986. The next year Penumbra premiered his now famous The African Company Presents Richard III. With a Penumbra premiere of Buffalo Hair in 1994 and a National McKnight Fellowship, Brown moved to the Twin Cities and it has been his artistic home ever since. Other Twin Cities productions: Beggars' Strike at the Children's Theater Company, the Mixed Blood production of Pure Confidence that moved to Off-Broadway in New York and American Family at Park Square Theater. His plays include The Negro of Peter the Great, A Big Blue Nail, Dartmoor Prison, The Pool Room, Yellow Moon Rising, Down in Mississippi and others. He has received commissions from Arena Stage, the Houston Grand Opera, The Children's Theatre Company, Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Actors Theatre of Louisville, The Goodman Theater, Miami University of Ohio and the University of Louisville. He is recipient of playwriting fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, McKnight Foundation, the Minnesota State Arts Board, Jerome Foundation, Theatre Communications Group and the Pew Charitable Trust. Mr. Brown has been artist-in-residence at New York University School of the Arts Graduate Acting Program, The James Thurber House in Columbus, and Ohio State University Theater Department. He has been a teacher of expository writing at New York University; African-American literature at the University of Minnesota; playwriting at Ohio State University and Antioch College; African American theater and dramatic literature at Carlton College as the Benedict Distinguished Visiting Artist, and "Creation and Collaboration" at the University of Minnesota Department of Theater. He has worked as a museum exhibit writer and story consultant for the Charles Wright Museum of African American History in Detroit, and the Kentucky Center for African American Heritage in Louisville, Kentucky. Mr. Brown is a Core Writer at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis and he is an alumnus of New Dramatists in New York. He has served on the board of directors of Theatre Communications Group, the national organization for the non-profit professional theater. He is a member of the board of directors for the Playwrights' Center and the Jerome Foundation and a Trustee of the Camargo Foundation. He is the 2006 recipient of The Black Theatre Network's Winona Lee Fletcher Award for outstanding achievement and artistic excellence, a 2008 Guggenheim Fellow, a 2010 recipient of the Otto René Castillo Award for Political Theatre, and 2010 United States Artists Fellow.

This event will premiere LIVE at 7:30 PM EST on Monday January 11th. A recording of the livestream will be available until 7PM EST on Friday January 15th - then it disappears forever.

This is a free event, but advance reservations are recommended. . A donation of $25 or more per viewer is suggested.

On Thursday January 14th at 7:30 PM EST, there will be a free post-performance Bull Session, an interactive discussion of the play and its themes with playwright Carlyle Brown, director Carl Cofield, scholar Marvin Edward McAllister, and members of the company. Registrants will receive a link to participate.

Red Bull Theater is committed to continuing connection during this historic time. Red Bull's online readings offer the unique opportunity to hear rarely-produced classic plays, and brand new plays in conversation with the classics, performed by the finest actors in New York. All of Red Bull Theater's current offerings are FREE, but advance reservations are recommended. Tax-deductible donations are encouraged to support Red Bull and invest in the vitality of classical theater for a contemporary audience.

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