John Carlin Joins Cast of Arena Stage's TURN ME LOOSE
Arena Stage announces the D.C.-area premiere of Turn Me Loose, Gretchen Law's intimate, no-holds-barred drama about the extraordinary and explosive life of Dick Gregory, who spent his later years in the nation's capital. Turn Me Loose chronicles Gregory's rise as the first Black comedian to expose audiences to racial comedy; in confronting bigotry head-on with biting humor and charm, Gregory turned activism into an art form. "Scorchingly funny and brilliant" (The New York Times), Turn Me Loose, directed by John Gould Rubin, runs September 6-October 14, 2018 in the Kreeger Theater.
As previously announced, Obie Award-winner and former stand-up comedian Edwin Lee Gibson will portray comedian-activist Dick Gregory. Gibson's 90-plus professional theater credits include off-Broadway's Battlefield by Peter Brook, Love and Information by Caryl Churchill and The Seven. Making his Arena debut, John Carlin joins the cast as Stand-up Comic/Emcee/Interviewer/Gospel Singer/Heckler/Cabbie, reprising the roles he originated.
"Dick Gregory's impact is more than being a socially conscious comedian," says Molly Smith. "He put his heart where his mouth was and used a talent for comedy as a platform for action - and change. He lived in our town and it's a joy to present a play about him."
"Dick Gregory - uniquely - sacrificed an extremely successful and lucrative career for activism," shares Rubin. "There are any number of prominent figures who use their celebrity in favor of a cause, but very few who relinquish fame and money for their beliefs. For this alone, he was a hero. I created this show when he was still alive to re-discover a hero living among us. Now, of course, to re-discover a hero. And he pursued injustice wherever his experience and imagination led him, so that, ultimately, he wielded his activism on behalf of a wide array of progressive issues, especially racial injustice. He was deeply intelligent, acutely attuned to the truth, unbendingly faithful to his beliefs and ridiculously funny. A hero by any standard."
Gretchen Law (Playwright) is the author of five full-length plays: The Adventures of A Black Girl In Search Of Her God was adapted from a Bernard Shaw story of the same title and has been approved for production by The Society of Authors; Al Sharpton for President was a semi-finalist in the Eugene O'Neill National Playwright's Conference 2006; Turn Me Loose was workshopped by Atlantic Theater Company, New York Stage and Film and at New York Theatre Workshop; additionally, History Lessons and Loving Charley Pride have been read at the National Black Theater Festival, The Players, The National Arts Club, the Harlem Theater Company, the LAByrinth Theater Company and The Dramatist Guild, of which she is a member. She is a longtime member of the Frank Silvera Writers Workshop. Gretchen is a practicing psychotherapist with degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Columbia University School of Social Work. In 1991, she founded the Parents' Foundation, 100 Broadway, in New Haven, CT, a residential community for adults with psychiatric illnesses. She resides in Guilford, CT.
John Gould Rubin (Director) is the Artistic Director of The Private Theater and former co-Artistic/Executive Director of LAByrinth Theater for which he directed seven plays including premieres by John Patrick Shanley and Erin Cressida Wilson. He originally created Turn Me Loose at LAByrinth as part of collection of writings entitled '68, and then directed the show off-Broadway at The Westside Theatre (nominated for the Joe Calloway Award for Best Director) and at The Wallis Annenberg Center. He directed American Buffalo with Treat Williams and Stephen Adly Guirgis at The Dorset Theatre Festival, where he also directed Outside Mullingar. He's directed at Rattlestick, Ma-Yi, The Public and the Soho Theatre in London among others. Notable credits include Peer Gynt (The International Ibsen Festival in Oslo); Playing with Fire (a deconstruction of Strindberg's one-act play about voyeurism, exhibitionism and wife-swapping at The Box); a site-specific Hedda Gabler in a townhouse for 25 people; Queen for A Day with David Proval and Vincent Pastore (off-Broadway); and The Cherry Orchard with Ellen Burstyn (The Actors Studio). Current projects include a radical new version of A Doll House (recently developed through a Collaborative Residency at The Marble House Project); Rocco, Chelsea, Adriana Sean, Claudia, Gianna, Alex (a devised project about the consciousness of conflict and the American Political Divide); and an all Afro-German production of Hedda Gabler (Berlin).
Edwin Lee Gibson (Dick Gregory) recently returned from nine months working with famed director Peter Brook (National Theatre Studio, London and Theatre Des Bouffes du Nord, Paris). Off-Broadway credits include Battlefield by Peter Brook (2017/18 international tour); Love and Information by Caryl Churchill (U.S. premiere, Minetta Lane Theatre/NYTW); The Seven (NYTW); The Diary of Black Men (Fairfield Halls, London); Five 'Til (Dixon Place Theatre); Beyond Caring (U.S. premiere, Lookingglass Theatre); The Death of Bessie Smith(New Brooklyn Theatre); and The Seven. TV credits include Law and Order: SVU and Shameless. Film credits include Marshall, Mom and Dad and Blood First. Stage writing credits include Five 'Til, Knucklehead and pla-ce-bo; screen writing credits include Nicodemus, Arrivée, Like Family, and the feature film, A New Normal. He is an Obie Award winner for Outstanding Performance.
John Carlin (Stand-up Comic/Emcee/Interviewer/Gospel Singer/Heckler/Cabbie) is thrilled to reprise the role he originated in Turn Me Loose, for his Arena Stage debut. Recent Off-Broadway productions include America Is Hard to See (HERE Arts), Turn Me Loose (Westside Theatre) and Uncle Vanya (The Pearl). Regional credits include Turn Me Loose (Wallis Annenberg), Dead Accounts and Time Stands Still (Hampton Theatre Company), Oklahoma! (Bard Summerscape) and Hadestown (NYTW summer residency). Film/TV credits include Roddy and Doddy, See You Around, The System and A Crime to Remember. A former RCA recording artist and independent solo artist, John is a member of Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir, a radical NYC-based performance community that has toured Europe and the U.S., opened for Neil Young and travelled to Ferguson, MO, Standing Rock, ND, and the D.C. headquarters of the EPA and FERC. Love and gratitude to DG, Lillian and the entire Gregory family.
The creative team for Turn Me Loose includes Scenic Designer Christopher Barreca; Costume Designer Susan Hilferty; Lighting Designer Stephen Strawbridge; Sound Designer Leon Rothenberg; Casting Directors Jack Doulin and Victor Vazquez; Stage Manager Erin Cass and Assistant Stage Manager Christi B Spann.
Turn Me Loose is presented in association with John Legend, Get Lifted Film Company, Mike Jackson, The Will and Jada Smith Family Foundation, Beth Hubbard, The Private Theatre, Eric Falkenstein, SimonSays Entertainment, Jamie Cesa and Jana Babatunde-Bey.