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HENRY V and SEED Set for Classical Theatre of Harlem

Under new leadership, The Classical Theatre of Harlem is proud to present two gripping world premiere productions that mark the Company's return to full-scale works. From August 5 - September 4, The Classical Theatre of Harlem will present Shakespeare's great history play, Henry V, in a new staging directed by Jenny Bennett that features OBIE award-winner Ty Jones in the title role. An acclaimed veteran of the Company and driving force behind its survival, Jones heads a cast of 15 in a raw, timeless production. His interpretation of King Henry V not only highlights the character's charisma and inspirational power to lead, but also his heroic faults and morally questionable tactics.

In a co-presentation with the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, The Classical Theatre of Harlem will also present the Off Broadway premiere of Radha Blank's SEED with direction by Niegel Smith from September 6 - October 9. This electrifying work marks the emergence of a bold, new voice in American theater. "SEED is my love letter to Harlem," says playwright Radha Blank. "Harlem has survived so much and while she continues to evolve, Harlem maintains a fiery spirit by way of its inhabitants, new and old. I'm thrilled we get to premiere this play in the community that inspired it!"

Since its founding in 1999, The Classical Theatre of Harlem has presented over 40 critically acclaimed productions which, according to Time Out New York, have cemented the Company's reputation as "one of the gutsiest and physically fearless groups around." The New York Times has declared, "If there is a more dauntless ensemble in New York than the Classical Theater of Harlem, I don't know what it is." The Company combines non-traditional casting, original adaptations, music and dance in innovative ways that render works from the classical canon as fresh, essential experiences. The Classical Theatre of Harlem is dedicated to returning the ‘classics' to the stages of Harlem; to nurturing new, young and culturally diverse audiences; and to producing theater that reflects the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry of America. More information on the Company can be found at classicaltheatreofharlem.org.


About Henry V

Henry V
Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Jenny Bennett
Featuring Ty Jones as King Henry V

Composition and Original Music by Patricia Ju
Scenic Design by Anka Lupes
Lighting Design by Colin Young
Costume Design by Rachel Dozier-Ezell

The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial and Educational Center (3940 Broadway)
August 5 - September 4 (press opening August 10)
Aug 8, 10-13, 17-20, 24-27, 31-Sep 3 at 8pm
Aug 13, 14, 20, 21, Sep 3, 4 at 3pm
Tickets: $48, $28 seniors, $20 students
866.811.4111 or classicaltheatreofharlem.org

Marcus Garvey Park (Harlem), Aug 5 & 6 at 8pm, Free
East River Park (Lower East Side), Aug 27-29 at 8pm, Free

Running time, 90 minutes.

Under the direction of Jenny Bennett, OBIE award-winner Ty Jones stars in the title role in this world premiere production of Henry V. One of Shakespeare's great history plays, Henry V examines the burdensome expectations that befall a young king who must not only live down his adolescent follies, but also inspire his fellow Englishman to follow him into war with France. The Classical Theatre of Harlem's interpretation brings to light the brutally thoughtful and biting humor of King Henry V's confrontational diplomacy. In a powerful exploration of what it means to be king, director Bennett dissects the warmongering tendencies of humanity as one man attempts to win the hearts of all.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem will present 28 performances of Henry V from August 5 - September 4 (press opening August 10). Tickets for performances at the Shabazz Center (3940 Broadway)-priced at $48, $28 for seniors, and $20 for students-may be purchased online at classicaltheatreofharlem.org or by calling 866.811.4111. Additional free outdoor performances are presented in conjunction with SummerStage and will take place on August 5 & 6 at Marcus Garvey Park in Harlem and on August 27-29 at East River Park in the Lower East Side. Visit summerstage.org for more information on these performances.

About the artists

Jenny Bennett is a fourth-generation theater woman whose talents include directing, acting, writing and producing. Bennett founded a theater company in Kaohsiung, Taiwan that produced a full season of plays, comedy improvisation and extreme theater weekends in collaboration with international playwrights, directors and actors. She also directed an award-winning annual theater project at Kaohsiung's Shu-Te University that taught English through theater practice. Since returning to New York, Bennett was featured in The Classical Theatre of Harlem's production of Emancipation, among other acting opportunities, and piloted the TACT Academy for The Actors Company Theatre. Directing credits include Macbeth, Dangerous Liaisons/ Weixian Guanxi, Romeo & Juliet, Into the Woods, Godspell, Arcadia, The Lady's Not For Burning, As You Like It!, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The 3Penny Opera. Bennett received her MFA from the University of Delaware.

Ty Jones made his Broadway debut in the role of Lt. Byers in Abby Mann's Judgment at Nuremberg, and was seen in the Tony award-winning production of Henry IV with Ethan Hawke and Kevin Kline, Julius Caesar with Denzel Washington, and most recently in the musical ENRON. Jones was awarded an OBIE for his portrayal of Archibald in The Classical Theatre of Harlem's acclaimed Off-Broadway production of The Blacks: A Clown Show. He has received multiple AUDELCO nominations for performance in several Classical Theatre of Harlem productions and won best actor for his portrayal of Nat Turner in Emancipation: Chronicles of the Nat Turner Rebellion, which also markEd Jones' playwriting debut. Prior to its premiere in April 2008, Jones developed Emancipation as part of the LAByrinth Theatre Company's workshop series. Jones first created Emancipation as a screenplay and it was selected as a finalist in The Sundance Institute Feature Film PrograM. Jones received his MFA from the University of Delaware, where he was the recipient of the Presidential Citation for Outstanding Achievement Award. Jones was also named "One of 25 to Watch" in Time Out New York.

Patricia Ju's colorful music history crosses genres, roles, and media channels. Classically trained, she practiced her way to the piano at Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, soloed with the Taipei National Symphony Orchestra as a Yamaha artist, and won the American Music Scholarship Association and the Brooklyn Arts Council Association Competitions plus numerous awards and scholarships at the Juilliard School Pre-College. There, she studied piano for ten years under Kathrine Parker, composition under Dr. Andrew Thomas and Eric Waszen, and conducting as assistant conductor to the chamber choir under Rebecca Scott.

Credits
The Classical Theatre of Harlem and this production of Henry V are supported by City Parks Foundation, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, Fund for the City of New York, New York State Council on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, Casement Fund, Axe-Houghton Foundation, Jarvis and Constance Doctorow Family Foundation, Time Warner Inc., AT&T, Councilman Robert Jackson, Councilwoman Inez Dickens and Doug and Paige Armentrout.


About SEED

SEED
Written by Radha Blank
Directed by Niegel Smith

The National Black Theatre (2031 5th Avenue)
September 6 - October 9 (press opening September 10)
Sep 7, 9-10, 14-17, 21-24, 28-Oct 1, 5-8 at 7:30pm
Sep 10, 17, 24, Oct 1, 8 at 2pm
Sep 11, 18, 25, Oct 2, 9 at 4pm
Tickets: $48, $28 seniors, $20 students
866.811.4111 or classicaltheatreofharlem.org

Running time, 120 minutes.

Developed through The Classical Theatre of Harlem's groundbreaking Project Classics: Theatre in Public Housing program and a workshop production in 2010 sponsored in-part by the Hip-Hop Theater Festival, these two Companies are proud to co-present the Off Broadway premiere of Radha Blank's SEED, which in 2010 was one of two plays to receive the prestigious NEA Outstanding New American Play award.

SEED is set months before the landmark NixzMary Brown abuse case that would change child welfare in New York City forever. Burnt-out social worker Anne Colleen Simpson decides to leave the field on a high note by writing a book detailing her career and the child welfare case that brought her acclaim. But when Chee-Chee, a gifted twelve-year-old from the ‘projects' in Anne's gentrified Harlem neighborhood, collides into her life, she is forced to confront his young mother and The Shadows of her own past. Chee-Chee and Anne develop an unconventional friendship that leads to an explosive encounter threatening Chee-Chee's future. Infused with the vibrant rhythm and verse of Hip-Hop culture, SEED begs the question: how far are we willing to go to ensure the well being of our children? Under the direction of Niegel Smith, the characters in this compelling new play confront the class and cultural divides that exist in one of America's most prominent black communities.

The Classical Theatre of Harlem and the Hip-Hop Theater Festival will present 29 performances of SEED from September 6 - October 9 (press opening September 10) at The National Black Theatre (2031 5th Avenue). Tickets-priced at $48, $28 for seniors, and $20 for students-may be purchased online at classicaltheatreofharlem.org or by calling 866.811.4111.

About the artists

Radha Blank's plays include American Schemes, HappyFlowerNail, nannyland, Reverb, Kenya and Casket Sharp. She has received awards and fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, The Nickelodeon Writer's Fellowship, The Public Theater's inaugural Emerging Writer's Group as well as The 2011 Helen Merrill Award in Playwriting. Her plays have been developed and/or presented at Arena Stage, The Lark, The Public Theater, Dixon Place, Penumbra Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, City Parks Foundation/Central Park SummerStage, Here, Voice & Vision, Hedgebrook Women's Playwright Festival, WICA and ACT Theatre. Radha is a native of New York where she has instructed youth in theater and writing for over 15 years.

Niegel Smith is a founding member of 425D, a director's lab. His New York directing credits include Neighbors (The Public Theater), Ether Steeds (Fringe Award - Best Ensemble), We Declare You a Terrorist (SPF), Metro Psalm, Rainy Days & Mondays (Fringe Award - Fringe Encores), Maud- The Madness (Phoenix Ensemble Theatre), One For The Road and LIMBS: A Pageant (HERE). He is associate director to Bill T. Jones on the musical FELA! and has assisted directors Jo Bonney, James Lapine, Kristin Marting, Richard Nelson and George C. Wolfe. Smith, a graduate of Dartmouth College, has received grants and fellowships from Theatre Communications Group, the Van Lier Fund, and the Tucker Foundation. As co-artistic director of PERMISO, Smith, along with Todd Shalom, has co-conceived and staged so you're one of them now?, this was the only place i knew to go, December 31, Procession and Fallout, mass rituals in public settings. Before surviving high school in Detroit, Smith grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.

Credits
The Hip-Hop Theater Festival and this production of SEED is made possible by support from the National Endowment for the Arts, Ford Foundation, Time Warner, Lambent Foundation, the New York State Council for the Arts and the Department of Cultural Affairs.

Photo Credit: Ruth Sovronsky


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