Cast Set For AMERICAN ROT at La MaMa

Previews begin March 14 prior to opening night on March 18.

By: Feb. 20, 2024
Cast Set For AMERICAN ROT at La MaMa
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AMERICAN ROT – a new play by Kate Taney Billingsley, directed by Estelle Parsons – will be given its world-premiere production at La MaMa’s Ellen Stewart Theatre (66 E. 4 St. in NYC), with previews beginning March 14 prior to opening night on March 18, it has been announced by Mia Yoo, Artistic Director of La MaMa.  AMERICAN ROT is presented by La MaMa in association with The Actors Studio.

In AMERICAN ROT, two men from historically-linked families meet face-to-face at a diner on the New Jersey Turnpike: one is a descendant of the once-enslaved Dred Scott, the other a descendant of the Supreme Court Chief Justice Roger Taney, who wrote the notorious Dred Scott decision that, by denying enslaved people basic human rights, is considered the worst decision to date by the U.S. Supreme Court.  Over coffee, their conversation peels away layers of injustice that have persisted for centuries.  A Black Chorus and White Chorus are on hand as AMERICAN ROT travels in time and confronts “wokeness,” white liberalism, white supremacy and what would repair hundreds of years of injustice. 

The play is inspired by playwright Taney Billingsley’s own family background:  she is a great-great-great-great niece of the judge Roger Taney, whose decision in 1857 landed on the wrong side of history.  In researching this chapter of her roots, Ms. Taney-Billingsley set out on an eye-opening path of discovery, and she eventually met and has collaborated with Lynne M. Jackson, the great-great-grandaughter of Dred Scott, and President and Founder of the Dred Scott Heritage Foundation.

Count Stovall – a Broadway veteran (DRIVING MISS DAISY, NO PLACE TO BE SOMEBODY, CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF) leads the cast of 14, including: John J. Payne, Francisco Solarzano, Suzanne DiDenna, Myla Pitt, Richarda Abrams, Aprella Godfrey-Barule, DeAnna Supplee, Lawrence Stallings (THE BOOK OF MORMON, PASSING STRANGE), Jason Jurlani, Timothy Doyle (SALOME, FORTUNE’S FOOL), Leland Gantt (FENCES, GEM OF THE OCEAN), Lash Dooley and Burnadair Lipscomb-Hunt.

AMERICAN ROT has choreography by William Whitener, set design by Christina Weppener, lighting by Victor En Yu Tan, costume design by Molly Maginnis; and music by Ms. Taney Billingsley, Tyler Bernhardt and Dag Markhus; lyrics by Billingsley. 

Kate Taney-Billingsley is the author of several plays, including A MAN OF HIS TIME, LEE AND THE MAGNOLIA TREE and BERNADETTE AND SANDY.  She is also an actress and member of The Actors Studio.

Estelle Parsons has been nominated for five Tony Awards, and won an Oscar for BONNIE AND CLYDE in 1967, and was nominated again the following year for RACHEL, RACHEL.  She got her start in television on THE TODAY SHOW as writer, producer and commentator.  In recent years, she has become familiar to TV audiences as the mother of the titular character, ROSEANNE.  Her Broadway debut was in HAPPY HUNTING with Ethel Merman in 1956.  She won a Theatre World Award in 1963 and enjoyed a robust career in theater for several decades, including MISS REARDON DRINKS A LITTLE, MISS MARGARIDA’S WAY, MORNING’S AT SEVEN, THREEPENNY OPERA, PIRATES OF PENZANCE and AUGUST: OSAGE COUNTY.  She was inducted into the Theatre Hall of Fame in 2014.  In 2016, she starred in the play OUT OF THE MOUTHS OF BABES at Cherry Lane Theatre.

Ms. Parsons is a lifetime member of The Actors Studio, and an Artistic Director since 2015.  She has been a lifelong activist in matter of social justice and equality, and has been instrumental in the development of AMERICAN ROT in recent years.

For performance and ticket information about AMERICAN ROT, visit