UArts Presents Philly Premiere of John Guare's A FREE MAN OF COLOR, 10/11-14

A Free Man of Color, the most recent work by celebrated American playwright John Guare, swaggers onto the stage of the Arts Bank Theater on October 11 in a production by the Ira Brind School of Theater Arts at the University of the Arts. Performances run October 11-14 at the Arts Bank Theater, located at 601 S. Broad Street in Philadelphia.

Guare, the author of popular works like Six Degrees of Separation and The House of Blue Leaves, was originally commissioned by director George C. Wolfe (artistic director of The Public Theater at the time) to create this ambitious epic work in 2004, and it had its premiere at Lincoln Center Theater in December of 2010. “The idea of A Free Man of Color,” noted Guare, “was to adapt a Restoration comedy into American terms,” which resulted in a free-wheeling “comedy of bad manners” set in boisterous New Orleans just prior to the Louisiana Purchase. When America acquired the Louisiana Territory in 1801, it brought American rule and racial segregation to that chaotic and colorful world, and Jacques Cornet, a flamboyant playboy and “free man of color,” found himself suddenly deprived of his liberty.

Helming this epic stage work is director Matt Pfeiffer, well known to Philadelphia audiences for his work at Theatre Exile, the Arden Theater and 1812 Productions. The winner of the 2008 F. Otto Haas Award for an Emerging Philadelphia Theatre Artist, Pfeiffer was described in a recent Inquirer profile as “the city’s most in-demand director.” “It’s a great opportunity for our students to work with a guest artist of this caliber,” observes Charles Gilbert, Director of the Brind School, “and a great example of the rich resources that the Philadelphia community offers to a training program like ours.”

Pfeiffer was enthusiastic about creating Guare’s fantastical world on stage. He notes, “The play asks great questions about the cost of America becoming an empire. The passionate and dedicated young theatre artists at UArts have the energy needed to bring this ambitious work to life.”

Guare’s play calls for a cast of more than 20 actors, and a play of this scope would be a prohibitively expensive undertaking for most professional theaters. While the work has been performed in Dallas, TX and Baton Rouge, LA, this is its first production in the mid-Atlantic region outside of NY.

The cast for A Free Man of Color features students in the Brind School’s BFA conservatory programs in Acting and Musical Theater. Junior Jahzeer Terrell (Acting ’14) plays the principal role of Jacques Cornet, the flamboyant playboy who suddenly finds himself deprived of his standing in New Orleans society when America acquires the city as part of its Louisiana Purchase. His manservant, Murmur, is played by senior Erin Fleming (Musical Theater ’13). Stage management, dramaturgy and technical production are provided by Brind School students in the BFA Theater Design & Technology and Directing, Playwriting, & Production programs.

Tickets for A Free Man of Color are available online at and can be reserved by phone at 215-717-6450. Tickets are $20 for the general public, $10 for students and seniors, and free to the University of the Arts community.

Thu, October 11 at 8 p.m.
Fri, October 12 at 8 p.m.
Sat, October 13 at 2p.m.
Sat, October 13 at 8 p.m.
Sun, October 14 at 2 p.m.

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