Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

NY Classical Theatre to Present Staged Reading of THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III

NY Classical Theatre to Present Staged Reading of THE AFRICAN COMPANY PRESENTS RICHARD III

NY Classical Theatre in association with Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group and David Heron's Sure Thing Productions will present a staged reading production of Carlyle Brown's acclaimed play The African Company Presents Richard III on two nights in March.

The first performance is slated for Monday, March 2 at the Williams Institutional CME Church in Harlem with the second performance to follow on Tuesday, March 3 at St Bartholomew's Church Community House in midtown Manhattan. Both performances will begin at 7pm.

Stephen Burdman, Artistic Director of NY Classical, will direct the reading.

Full casting for the production will be announced shortly.

Set in 1821, the play is based on the true story of the first African-American theatre company in New York City. It dramatizes the conflict that arises when free African-American, William Henry Brown, organizes a production of Shakespeare's Richard III for a predominantly black audience, thereby challenging leading New York City producer Stephen Price, who is presenting an all-white version of the same play a few blocks away. As Brown fights for the right to present Shakespeare, his African Grove Theatre Company-comprised exclusively of domestic workers and former slaves-fights among themselves as they question the racial implications of African-American actors performing English drama.

This staged reading is another program in NY Classical Theatre's 'Diversifying The Classics' series, which aims to focus attention on little known classic plays or plays with classical roots that expand the canon from a cultural immigrant perspective.

Burdman, Rivers, and Heron previously collaborated on the highly successful staged reading of David Stallings' drama Leonora-based on Ibsen's A Doll's House-in the summer of 2019.

According to Burdman, "Our 'Diversifying the Classics' series has become central to our mission at NY Classical. The plays we explore in this series are an essential part of expanding the theatrical experience for existing patrons and creating new and diverse audiences for the classics as well. We are very happy to once again be collaborating with Voza Rivers and The New Heritage Theatre Group and our guest producer David Heron of Sure Thing Productions to bring The African Company Presents Richard III to Harlem and midtown."

Founded by Burdman in 2000, NY Classical Theatre has presented over 700 free performances for more than 250,000 New Yorkers. The Off Broadway theater company has produced extensively in non-traditional outdoor settings in Central Park, The Battery, Governors Island, Rockefeller Park (Battery Park City), Carl Schurz Park, and Brooklyn Bridge Park as well as indoor locations at Brookfield Place, One Liberty Plaza, One New York Plaza, ART/NY's Mezzanine Theatre, and more. In total, the company has presented 42 all free productions by classical playwrights including Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov, Shaw and Wilde.

The New Heritage Theatre Group, the oldest black non-profit theater company in New York City, was founded in 1964 under the name New Heritage Repertory Theatre by the late Roger Furman, a revered playwright, director, actor, and lecturer-with its mission to preserve and sustain classic works of black theater and beyond. In 1983, founding member of New Heritage, producer Voza Rivers assumed leadership of the company upon Furman's passing. The new direction was to present international works by artists of color from South Africa. As a theatrical producer, Rivers' resume includes the Tony nominated Asinamali!, the Tony and Grammy nominated Broadway musical Sarafina!, the Obie award winning Woza Albert! and The Huey P Newton Story as well as Township Fever.

Jamaican born David Heron is an award winning playwright, producer, and actor. His six produced plays, Ecstasy, Intermission, Against His Will, Love and Marriage and New York City, Redemption, and 4Play have been seen by thousands of patrons on three continents. Under the banner of his company Sure Thing Productions he has produced all of his own plays as well as several others. Among other honors, he is the recipient of six International Theater Institute Actor Boy Awards, The Caribbean Life Impact Award, and the New York City Council Award for Excellence in the Arts.

This staged reading production of The African Company Presents Richard III is sponsored by Council Member Bill Perkins and the New York City Council's Cultural Immigrant Initiative. It is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

The Williams Institutional CME Church is located at 2239 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard New York, NY 10027 at West 132nd Street.

The St. Bartholomew's Church Community House is located at 109 East 50th Street New York, NY 10022, between Park and Lexington Avenues.

Admission to the reading is free.

Limited reservations are now open can be made at

For further information contact the NY Classical box office hotline: (866) 811-4111 (9am to 9pm, 7 days per week).

Featured at the Theatre Shop

T-Shirts, Mugs, Phone Cases & More
Branded Broadway Merch

Related Articles View More Off-Off-Broadway Stories

More Hot Stories For You