Poetry, Fire, Love, and Pain Take Center Stage in I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGS

Poetry, Fire, Love, and Pain Take Center Stage in I KNOW WHY THE CAGED BIRD SINGSBook-It Repertory Theatre will open its 28th season with a stage adaptation of Dr. Maya Angelou's masterpiece I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Founding Co-Artistic Director Myra Platt originally adapted and directed this piece for its 2003 world premiere at Book-It. Platt is thrilled to collaborate with Malika Oyetimein who will direct and join Platt as co-adapter on a new script for 2017.

Platt has helped produce over 125 world-premiere mainstage productions and over 30 education touring productions. Her adapting credits include The Brothers K: Parts One and Two, Little Bee, and The Financial Lives of the Poets, among others. Oyetimein is a recent graduate from the MFA Directing program at the University of Washington School of Drama and was featured in City Arts Magazine's 2016 Future List. Her directing credits include Hoodoo Love (Sound Theatre Company), Barbeque (Intiman Theatre Festival), Milk Like Sugar (ArtsWest Playhouse), Goin' Someplace Special (Book-It Arts & Education Program), WHITE (Theatre Horizon), and Force Continuum (University of Washington).

"It's poetry, it's fire, it's love, and it's pain. That's what our show is gonna feel like," Oyetimein told the cast on the first day of rehearsal. "We get to investigate the smallest piece of her story. We get to tap our toes into the brilliance that was her. Just for a little bit, just for a second. I'm elated to be able to do that as a director and also as an adapter. To be reshaping and forming her words...tugging at her narrative...it is an honor I still don't grasp. Myra and I are moving around the text of a genius. Someone who loved words very deeply. Therefore we are going to show love and care to her text...but we're not going to be precious about anything because Dr. Maya Angelou wouldn't want that."

Adapted from Maya Angelou's masterpiece, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings chronicles Angelou's experiences from age three through the birth of her son. Despite wrenching childhood trauma and racism, she finds her voice and the will to endure and learns to use her identity as a source of strength.

The cast includes Ronnie Hill as Uncle Willie/Freeman/Ensemble, Aishé Keita as Young Maya, Lamar Legend as Father/Ensemble, Shaunyce Omar* as Momma/Ensemble, Chip Sherman as Bailey/Ensemble, Anthony Lee Simmons as Henry Reed/Ensemble, Lindsay Zae Summers as Dolores/Ensemble, Brennie Tellu* as Maya, and Dedra D. Woods* as Mother Dear/Mrs. Flowers.

*Member of Actors' Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States

The design team is led by Scenic Designer Christopher Mumaw with lighting design by Matthew Webb, costume design by K.D. Schill, and sound design by Stephon Dorsey.

I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings plays September 13-October 15, 2017 at The Center Theatre at the Armory (305 Harrison Street, Seattle, WA 98109). Performance tickets start at $26 with group rates available. $15 tickets will be available to students during the entire run. Purchase at book-it.org or by calling the box office at 206.216.0833. The box office is open Tues through Fri, 12:00pm - 5:00pm (Tues - Sat during production run), located in the outer lobby of The Center Theatre at the Armory, 305 Harrison St., Seattle.


Upcoming Beyond-the-Book Events
Conversations that both illuminate Book-It's production of I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and act as catalysts for deeper exploration of the book's themes.

Sat, Sept 23, 5:00pm: Find Your Voice Workshop with Gin Hammond, Seattle Voice Institute

Sun, Sept 24, 4:15pm: Post-Show Talk-Sharon Nyree Williams of the CD Forum moderates a talk with artistic team members. Get an in-depth look at what it takes to make a show like I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings happen.

Wed, Sept 27, 9:45pm: Earth Pearl Collective, Post-Show Guided Self-Care Ritual

Fri, Sept 29, 6:00pm: Book-It Teen Night
TeenTix members use their ID cards for admission to this exclusive insider party before the Friday night show.

Wed, Oct 4, 9:45pm: Earth Pearl Collective, Post-Show Guided Self-Care Ritual

Events are FREE and take place in The Center Theatre; tickets to the performances may be purchased at book-it.org or 206.216.0833.

About Maya Angelou
Dr. Maya Angelou was an American poet, memoirist, and civil rights activist. With more than 30 best-selling titles, Angelou wrote 36 books including a series of seven autobiographies which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences. She received dozens of awards including a Lincoln Medal, Presidential Medal of Freedom, and Literarian Award and received more than 50 honorary degrees. Harold Augenbraum from the National Book Foundation said that Angelou's "legacy is one that all writers and readers across the world can admire and aspire to."

About Malika Oyetimein
Malika Oyetimein served as artistic director of the Philadelphia-based Ademide Theatre Ensemble and was a member of the Directors Lab at Lincoln Center Theater. In Seattle, she was featured in City Arts Magazine's 2016 Future List. Select directing credits include Hoodoo Love (Sound Theatre Company, Yancy Girl Productions and Ademide Theatre Ensemble), Barbeque and BootyCandy (Intiman Theatre Festival), Milk Like Sugar (ArtsWest Playhouse), Goin' Someplace Special (Book-It Arts & Education Program), WHITE (Theatre Horizon), and Fucking A and Force Continuum (University of Washington). As a professional teaching artist, Malika has worked with Seattle Repertory Theatre, Philadelphia Young Playwrights, Arden Theatre Co., Mural Arts: Project Home, and Theatre Horizon's Autism Drama Program. Malika recently graduated from the MFA Directing program at the University of Washington School of Drama.

About Myra Platt

As Founding Co-Artistic Director of Book-It Repertory Theatre, Myra has helped produce over 125 world-premiere mainstage productions and over 30 education touring productions. Her adapting credits include The Brothers K: Parts One and Two, Little Bee, The Financial Lives of the Poets, The Art of Racing in the Rain, The River Why, The House of the Spirits, Giant, and Owen Meany's Christmas Pageant (with Jane Jones). She has directed over 20 productions most recently The Brothers K, Little Bee and The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay (2014 Gregory Award for Outstanding Production, Seattle Times Footlight Award). She's the recipient (with Jane Jones) of Paul G. Allen Family Foundation's Founders Award, the 2010 Women of Influence from Puget Sound Business Journal, and was named a 2010 Unsung Hero and Uncommon Genius by The Seattle Times.

About THE 2017-2018 Season
In the fall of 2017, Book-It presents Maya Angelou's I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. During the holiday season, a musical adaptation of Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones features music by Justin Huertas and stars Sara Porkalob. Book-It kicks off 2018 by returning to Pioneer Square for a theatrical culinary collaboration with Café Nordo with one of the most popular detective novels The Maltese Falcon, by Dashiell Hammett. In the spring, Book-It presents Young Audiences New York's production of The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz in a limited run. Book-It's final selection is Oscar Wilde's The Picture of DorIan Gray.

Book-It Repertory Theatre, a leader in the narrative theatre movement, was founded in 1990. Book-It is a non-profit organization with a dedication to great literature and quality theatre experiences employing simple, sensitive, and imaginative production techniques, and to inspiring its audiences to read. The company is funded, in part, by generous contributions from corporations and foundations, and hundreds of individuals who share its passion for literature.

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