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The Flea Presents Horizon Theater's BENITO CERENO, Previews 9/22

The Flea Theater presents Horizon Theatre Rep's production of the rarely-seen play BENITO CERENO - written by the late Robert Lowell and based on the Herman Melville novel of the same name -- Off-Broadway at the Flea Theatre (41 White St.) in Manhattan, with previews set to start September 22 prior to an official press opening on September 25. BENITO CERENO is directed by Woodie King Jr., founder and Producing Director of the New Federal Theatre.

First produced in 1965, when it won an Obie Award as part of the Robert Lowell trilogy "The Old Glory," BENITO CERENO has not been seen in New York since a 1976 revival.

Based on Melville's novel, BENITO CERENO is set in 1770 and depicts the mysterious events that occur when an American merchant vessel comes upon a battered Spanish ship with its nearly all-black crew and a white captain, Benito Cereno.

Directed by Woodie King Jr, the cast of BENITO CERENO features Reynaldo Piniella (THE GREAT RECESSION), Frank Mayers, Mutiyat Ade-Salu, Jaymes Jorsling (TILL THE BREAK OF DAWN), Arthur Bartow (author of "The Director's Voice"), Benjamin Thys (NEITHER HEAVEN NOR EARTH), Abdi Ismail, Pedro Rezende, Steven Alexander, Ama Birch, Uchenna Onyia, Akintunde Sogunro, Rafael De Mussa (CALIGULA, THE MISUNDERSTANDING), and Sean ChristIan Taylor.

In Horizon Theatre Rep's production of BENITO CERENO, Mr. Jorsling plays Babu, a role created by the late Roscoe Lee Browne, for which he won an Obie Award. The 1965 production of Lowell's play also won Obies for actors Frank Langella and Lester Rawlins, and costume designer Willa Kim.

Known principally as a poet, Robert Lowell won the Pulitzer Prize in 1947 for "Lord Weary's Castle," and in 1974 for "The Dolphin." He won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1960 for "Life Studies," and served as U.S. Poet Laureate from 1947-48. His trilogy "The Old Glory" is comprised of BENITO CERENO; MY KINSMAN, MAJOR MOLINEUX; and ENDECOTT AND THE RED CROSS, all essentially plays about American history.

In his biography, "Melville: His World and Work," (Vintage Paperbacks), author Andrew Delbanco writes, "In our own time of terror and torture, 'Benito Cereno' has emerged as the most salient of Melville's works: a tale of desperate men in the grip of a vengeful fury that those whom they hate cannot begin to understand".

The BENITO CERENO design team is: Cathy Small (Costume Design), Chein-Yu Peng (Set Design), Joyce Liao (Lighting Design), and Bruce Heath (Dance Choreography).

Woodie King, Jr. is a founder and Producing Director of New Federal Theatre in New York City. New Federal Theatre has presented over 200 productions in its 39 year history. He has directed works at the Cleveland Playhouse, Stage West, Virginia Museum Theatre, Pittsburgh Public Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Northlight Theatre, New Federal Theatre, The Ensemble Studio, Arena Stage, Geva Theatre, American Place Theatre, Jomandi Theatre, Center Stage of Baltimore, Indiana Repertory Company, Studio Arena in Buffalo, New York Shakespeare Festival, Billie Holiday Theatre, St. Louis Black Repertory Theatre, and Crossroads Theatre Company. His works include: BOSEMAN AND LENA (Joseph Jefferson Award), CHECKMATES (NAACP Image Award for directing), SPLENDID MUMMER (American Place Theatre), GOD'S TROMBONES (Ford's Theatre), JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE (Detroit Rep), A RASIN IN THE SUN and THE MEMBER OF THE WEDDING (GeVa), GOOD BLACK DON'T CRACK and LOVE AND MARRIAGE AND NEW YORK CITY (Billie Holiday Theatre, Brooklyn), produced and directed Robert Johnson: TRICK THE DEVIL (AUDELCO Award for Best Director and Best Play), A RASIN IN THE SUN (starring Esther Rolle and Kenny Leon, at The ALLIANCE THEATRE in Atlanta). Mr. King is the recipient of an Obie Award for Sustained Achievement, a TCG Peter Zeisler Award, AEA's Paul Robeson Award, AEA's Rosetta LeNoire Award; an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters from Wayne State University, a Doctorate of Fine Arts from the College of Wooster; and Honorary Doctorates from Lehman College and John Jay College of Criminal Justice.

Now in its 11th season Horizon Theatre Rep under Artistic Director Rafael De Mussa is dedicated to producing work from the international repertory. HTR aims to give emerging and established artists the opportunity to take risks, to excel, and to make their mark. HTR is grounded in New York City and is passionately committed to reflecting the cultural greatness and diversity of this city. HTR is dedicated to expressing the unique and powerful forces of its peoples, ideas and divergent points of view.

Past HTR productions include the acclaimed production of Jean-Paul Sartre's MEN WITHOUT SHADOWS; the first version of VASSA ZHELEZNOVA by Maxim Gorky featuring a new translation; the English language premiere of Armand Salacrou's NIGHTS OF WRATH; 3xPIRANDELLO at The New York International Fringe Festival; Dejan Dukovski's POWDER KEG, Albert Camus' CALIGULA and last season's THE MISUNDERSTANDING at The Flea.

The Flea Theater, under Artistic Director Jim Simpson and Producing Director Carol Ostrow, is one of New York's leading off-off-Broadway companies. Winner of a Special Drama Desk Award for outstanding achievement, Obie and Otto awards, The Flea has presented nearly 100 plays and numerous dance and live music performances since its inception in 1996. Past productions include the premieres of Anne Nelson's THE GUYS; six plays by A.R. Gurney (POST MORTEN, O JERUSALEM, SCREENPLAY, MRS. FARNSWORTH, A LIGHT LUNCH and OFFICE HOURS); and plays by Mac Wellman. Roger Rosenblatt, Elizabeth Swados, Karen Finley, Adam Rapp, Will Eno, Thomas Bradshaw, Jonathan Reynolds, Bathsheba Doran, Steven Banks, Trista Baldwin, and Laurel Haines. For more information about The Flea Theater, visit

Scheduled September 22 through October 16, BENITO CERENO will perform Thursdays through Saturdays at 9:00pm and Sundays at 7:00pm. Tickets are $18 and can be purchased by calling 212.352.3101 or online at The Flea is located at 41 White Street between Church and Broadway, three blocks south of Canal, close to the A/C/E, N/R/Q, 6, J/M/Z and 1 subway lines.

For more information about BENITO CERENO please visit Horizon Theatre Rep's website at, Horizon Theatre Rep can also be followed on Twitter @HorizonTheatreR. Or

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