Berkeley Celebrates Black History Month With Black Film Pioneer Robert Townsend
Celebrating Black History Month, Black film pioneer Robert Townsend will add one additional performance for the closing run of his solo show Living the Shuffle on Sunday, March 1 and three special post-show discussions at The Marsh Berkeley.
Renowned actor/director Robert Townsend has worked with Hollywood icons like Beyoncé, Denzel Washington, Eddie Murphy, Morgan Freeman, James Earl Jones, and many more. Now, the trailblazing filmmaker takes audiences on a one-man rollercoaster-ride through the ups and downs of show business, from the dangerous streets of Chicago to performing Julius Caesar at a pimp convention in New York City, then creating the breakout film that would launch his career, Hollywood Shuffle, and becoming one of the "Godfathers of the Independent Film World."
Written, performed, and directed by Robert Townsend, and co-produced by Marsh favorite Don Reed and Townsend, Living the Shuffle must close on March 1, 2020 with performances 8:00pm Fridays, 8:30pm Saturdays, and 5:30pm Sundays at The Marsh Berkeley 2120 Allston Way, Berkeley. Special post-show discussions will follow Sunday performances on February 16, February 23, and March 1. For tickets (Regular $37.50, Reserved VIP Seating $50 and $100, Post-show event only $15), the public may visit www.themarsh.org or call The Marsh box office at 415-282-3055 (open Monday through Friday, 1-4pm).
Critics and audiences alike have been praising Robert Townsend and Living the Shuffle. The San Francisco Chronicle said, "Living the Shuffle transcends," lauding it as "a raw and madcap comedy" and imploring audiences to "come for the gossip, stay for Townsend's imagination." BroadwayWorld hailed it as "fascinating and inspirational, 90 minutes of captivating tales," exclaiming they "wouldn't be the least bit surprised to see it eventually land on Broadway for a lengthy run." Berkeleyside adds, "There may only be one actor onstage, but Townsend contains multitudes."
Following Sunday performances on February 16, 23, and March 1, Townsend will host an exclusive discussion about his body of work and how he creates as an artist, sharing Hollywood secrets with the audience. Attendees will have the chance to ask Townsend questions. Commemorative items will also be available for purchase. Admission to these special post-show events is free with a valid ticket to that day's performance, or $15 general admission to the event only.
Robert Townsend is an actor, director, writer, and filmmaker with over 30 years in show business. Noticing the difficulty Black actors had finding jobs and the lack of good work available in the film industry led Townsend to create opportunities for himself and fellow artists. He co-wrote, directed, produced and starred in his first film, financed by his personal credit cards and a miracle-the critically acclaimed Hollywood Shuffle, a satire depicting the trials and tribulations of Black actors in Hollywood.
Nominated for 30 NAACP Image Awards, Townsend's prolific television work has been seen on Disney, Fox, NBC, MGM, HBO, WB and MTV. His credits include creating, executive producing, and starring in "The Parent 'Hood" (The WB); creating the variety series "Townsend Television" (Fox TV); and directing "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" starring Beyoncé (MTV films), "Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story" (NBC), and "10,000 Black Men Named George" (Showtime). Townsend's myriad film projects include co-writing and directing The Five Heartbeats; writing, directing, and starring in The Meteor Man, the first African American superhero movie; and directing Halle Berry in B*A*P*S, Eddie Murphy in Eddie Murphy Raw, and Why We Laugh: Comedians on Black Comedy, a documentary on the history of Black comedians including interviews with Chris Rock, which was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival. As an actor, he has starred opposite Denzel Washington in A Soldier's Story, and appeared with Diane Lane in Streets of Fire, Kevin Costner in American Flyers and Angela Bassett in Of Boys and Men. Recently, he directed American Soul, the story of "Soul Train" founder Don Cornelius (BET); directed the 2019 NAACP Image Award-nominated film Making The Five Heartbeats, a documentary about his cult-favorite film The Five Heartbeats; and directed and appeared in "Black Lightning," the Netflix/ CW TV series based on the DC Comics character of the same name.