Photo Flash: First Look at August Wilson-Inspired 'UniSon' at Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Oregon Shakespeare Festival opens the world premiere of UniSon by OSF ensemble-in-residence UNIVERSES, directed by Robert O'Hara, this Sunday, April 23, in the Angus Bowmer Theatre, for a run through October 28, 2017. BroadwayWorld has a first look at the cast in action below!
UniSon is a high-energy, multimedia, music-filled theatrical experience inspired by the poetry of beloved playwright August Wilson, created by UNIVERSES in association with Constanza Romero. Granted access to Wilson's poetry catalogue, UNIVERSES blends it into a mythically modern story of a dying poet who leaves a mysterious box to his apprentice, with strict instructions to destroy it. Curious, the apprentice opens it, releasing terrors that tormented the master throughout his life. This world premiere fuses poetry, theater, dance and music to explore the reconstruction of collective memory, blending UNIVERSES' one-of-a-kind artistry with excerpts of Wilson's poetry.
UniSon marks the return of OSF's resident ensemble after their musical Party People-an American Revolutions commission that premiered at OSF in 2012-journeyed from Ashland to Berkeley Repertory Theatre to The Public Theater in New York. For this new musical, UNIVERSES' Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, Steven Sapp and William Ruiz, a.k.a. Ninja have teamed up with co-composers Broken Chord and the critically acclaimed Toshi Reagonto craft the show's mix of blues, hip-hop, R&B, classical music and jazz.
The cast of UniSon features Steven Sapp as Poet, Asia Mark as Apprentice, Christiana Clark as Terror #1: Seamstress, William Ruiz, a.k.a. Ninja as Terror #2: Butcher, Kevin Kenerly as Terror #3: Boxer, Rodney Gardiner as Terror #4: Black Smith, Mildred Ruiz-Sapp as Terror #5: Hunter, Yvette Monique Clark as Terror #6: Momma and Jonathan Luke Stevens as Terror #7: Solider. All performers play ensemble roles as well.
Scenic design for UniSon is by Christopher Acebo, costume design is by Dede M. Ayite, lighting is by Alex Jainchill and video design is by Kaitlyn Pietras. Co-composers and vocal directors are UNIVERSES, Broken Chord and Toshi Reagon. Joan Herrington is dramaturg, Martine Kei Green-Rogers is assistant dramaturg, David Carey is voice and text director and U. Jonathan Toppo is fight director. Karl Alphonso is production stage manager and Moira Gleason is assistant stage manager.
Photo Credit: Jenny Graham, Oregon Shakespeare Festival
The Apprentice (Asia Mark) mourns the death of her poet mentor.
The Apprentice (Asia Mark, right) has no idea what she is unleashing when she opens a box the Poet (Steven Sapp) told her to destroy. Among the terrors released are the Poet's parents - Terror #6: Momma (Yvette Monique Clark) and Terror #3: Boxer (Kevin Kenerly).
The Apprentice and the Poet (Asia Mark, Steven Sapp, with Ensemble) are transfixed as Terror #1: Seamstress (Christiana Clark, right) sings of her childhood.
Terror #2: Butcher (William Ruiz. a.k.a. Ninja) reenacts a disturbing memory, to the horror of the Apprentice (Asia Mark).
Terror #3: Boxer (Kevin Kenerly, left) reminds the Poet (Steven Sapp, right) of their shared past with Terror #6: Momma (Yvette Monique Clark).
The Poet (Steven Sapp) and Terror #4: Black Smith (Rodney Gardiner) recall a sin that shocks the Apprentice (Asia Mark).
Terror #5: Hunter (Mildred Ruiz-Sapp, with Ensemble) recounts her own troubled history.
Terror #7: Soldier (Jonathan Luke Stevens) and Terror #6: Momma (Yvette Monique Clark) share a dance, watched by Terror #1: Seamstress (Christiana Clark), the Apprentice (Asia Mark) and the Poet (Steven Sapp).