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DON'T BOTHER ME, I CAN'T COPE to Run 7/20-30 at Freedom Theatre

New Freedom Theatre and Sandra Norris Haughton, Executive Producing Director, presents the musical review Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope with book, music and lyrics by Micki Grant. The show is conceived by Vinnette Carroll and is directed and choreographed by Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj. Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope is onstage at 1346 N. Broad Street, Philadelphia, from July 20 through July 30, 2016. For tickets and information visit: www.freedomtheatre.org.

Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope is a rarely produced show focusing on the African-American experience with songs on such topics as tenements, slumlords, ghetto life, student protests and feminism. It features a mix of music including gospel, jazz, funk, soul, calypso and soft rock. First performed in 1971 at the Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C., Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope enjoyed a Broadway production in 1972 and ran for 1,065 performances. It was the first Broadway play to be directed by an African-American woman. Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope will enjoy an Off-Broadway revival next year in New York City.

Multi award-winning director and choreographer Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj will set Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope in North Philadelphia, across the street from Freedom Theatre, where a demolished William Penn High School is being rebuilt as a racetrack for Temple University. The set will look like a construction site and is modeled after pictures that were taken each day during the demolition.

Maharaj says, "This is a very pressing issue in our community. There is a lot of frustration about losing William Penn High School and about Temple University, as many perceive, buying up the community. In the show, the actors explore the subject matters as a form of street protest in front of the ruins. Each character - the preacher, waitress, artist, mother, student and the rest - will not be able to "cope" because their neighborhood is being swallowed up."

He adds, "Once again Freedom Theatre is using theatre as a means for social awareness and justice with this production of Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope."

Executive Producing Director Sandra Norris Haughton adds, "On the occasion of Freedom's 50th anniversary, it is fitting that we produce Don't Bother Me, I Can't Cope. The issue of gentrification and communities being swallowed up by larger institutions including universities is as relevant today as when this production first came into being. Being friends and having worked with the show's conceiver, Ms. Vinnette Carroll, I am proud that we have come full circle and I can honor her work by bringing it to a new generation, who unfortunately are still struggling with the same issues. Ms. Carroll was an extraordinary caring and insightful woman and strong in the most important ways. I'm proud that Freedom Theatre is still here to mount her important work and to give voice to the concerns of the community which we pioneered in preserving long before it was fashionable."

Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj was recently appointed Guest Artistic Director for New Freedom Theatre's 49th Season. Maharaj is a storyteller, artist and activist known for his documentary-style political work that deals with American history and events tied to the African American narrative. He started Rebel Theatre Company in New York City in 2003 and was hailed by The New York Times as, "one of the most talented directors in New York." Maharaj's production of Passage Theatre's Little Rock won the Barrymore Award for Outstanding Ensemble in 2015.


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