THURGOOD Opens Tomorrow At The Walnut
The Walnut Street Theatre continues its 2019-20 Independence Studio on 3 season with the powerful one-man production, THURGOOD. Written by George Stevens, Jr., directed by Jerrell L. Henderson, and starring Johnnie Hobbs, Jr., the production begins previews on January 7, opens January 14, and continues through February 9.
Meet Thurgood Marshall: Lawyer. Civil Rights Activist. The first African American Supreme Court Justice. In the acclaimed Broadway play Thurgood, you have a seat at a fictional lecture on his life given by Marshall at his alma mater. Experience his transformation from a young and spirited dissenter to a pensive Justice full of wisdom. From his early days as a civil rights lawyer to his appointment to the highest court in the land, Thurgood Marshall stood for justice while lifting the standing of his race, and all Americans.
Before joining the Supreme Court in 1967, Thurgood Marshall made a profound impact for African American rights in the United States - most notably during his long-fought battles against the Supreme Court's 1896 ruling in Plessy v. Ferguson. The case gave federal sanction to "separate but equal" public facilities for black and white citizens. In a long series of legal cases, Marshall served as chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People. He successfully ended the sanctioned racism inherent in the Plessy v. Ferguson case in Marshall's victory in the famous 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, which significantly advanced the civil rights movement over the next decade.
African American activism is still very much alive in the United States, making the themes and questions THURGOOD poses relevant in the political landscape of today. In response to injustices affecting the country's African American communities, nation-wide social movements like Black Lives Matter have proven that the country's conversation surrounding race equality is far from over.
Just 54 years removed from the ruling in Brown v. Board of Education, theatre critic Charles Isherwood noted in his 2008 review of the Broadway production that "the play serves as a healthy reminder that separate drinking fountains, to cite one shameful practice, are just a generation or two in the past" (Isherwood, The New York Times).
Former WST Acting Apprentice Jerrell L. Henderson makes his Walnut Street Theatre directorial debut with THURGOOD. Henderson is an Assistant Professor of Performance Studies at Chicago State University and serves as an Artistic Associate of Black Lives Black Words, helping black artists develop and produce new works that address social issues affecting people of color. His recent directing credits include The River with BoHo Theatre, Something Like A War: A New Musical with 11th Hour Theatre, and Untitled with Inis Nua Theatre.
Playing the role of Thurgood Marshall is Walnut and Philadelphia favorite Johnnie Hobbs, Jr. Hobbs has been seen in the Walnut's Independence Studio on 3 in Oleanna (2018), The Other Place (2016), and Driving Miss Daisy (2014). He is currently an Emeritus Associate Professor at the Ira Brind School of Theatre Arts at the University of the Arts. In 2015, he won the Barrymore Lifetime Achievement Award for his impact both on stage and in the classroom. As an actor, Hobbs has performed at most of Philadelphia's major local theatres, including Philadelphia Theatre Company, the Arden, 1812 Productions, the Freedom Theatre, and the Philadelphia Drama Guild. He is a four-time Barrymore nominee.
Taking audiences to Thurgood's alma mater, Howard University, is Scenic Designer Roman Tatarowicz (Meteor Shower, The Curious Incident...Night-Time, Oleanna). Tatarowicz will be joined by Barrymore Award-winning Costume Designer Levonne Lindsay, whose work has recently been seen at the Arden Theater, Philadelphia Theater Company and the Wilma Theater. Lighting Designer J. Dominic Chacon (Civil War Voices, Peter and the Star Catcher, Red) and Sound Designer Damien Figueras (Meteor Shower, It's a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, Oleanna) round out the design team.
Tickets are also available at walnutstreettheatre.org or Ticketmaster.com.