New York Classical Theatre, Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group And David Heron To Present LEONORA
New York 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 David Stallings' new play Leonora at the Williams Institutional CME Church in Harlem on Monday June 3 at 7pm.
Leonora is inspired by Henrik Ibsen's 1879 classic drama A Doll's House and is based on a concept by Antonio Miniño, who also directs the reading.
Full casting for the production will be announced shortly.
Leonora is set in the Caribbean island of Jamaica in late 1951. Four months after catastrophic Hurricane Charlie all but destroys the island, Leonora Hartell, a Jamaican woman of color is heedlessly celebrating Christmas with her aristocratic British husband Tristan and their children. Groomed from a young age to marry into a white family, she has become accustomed to living a sheltered life. However, the unexpected arrival of several figures from her past, including her childhood friend Kalisa, sets in motion a series of events that will force her to confront her present and her future.
The staged reading of Leonora is another program in New York 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. The last reading in the series was The Widow of Valencia by Lope De Vega in December 2018.
According to Artistic Director Stephen Burdman, "Our 'Diversifying the Classics' series has become central to our mission at New York 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 be working with Voza Rivers and The New Heritage Theatre Group and our guest Producer David Heron of Sure Thing Productions to bring Leonora to Harlem."
Founded by Burdman in 2000, New York 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 and more. In total, the company has presented over three dozen all free productions by classical playwrights including Shakespeare, Moliere, Chekhov and Shaw.
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. 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.
The staged reading production of Leonora is sponsored by New York City Council Member Bill Perkins and the NYC Council Cultural Immigrant Initiative.
The Williams Institutional CME Church is located at 2239 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Boulevard at 132nd Street, New York, NY, 10027.
Admission to the reading is free.
Reservations can be made at nyclassical.org/Leonora.
Photo: From left- David Heron, Stephen Burdman and Voza Rivers.