'Robeson' at the Blue Heron Arts Center

Actors Stock Company NYC presents the New YorkPremiere of Robeson, by Miriam Jensen Hendrix, at the Blue Heron Arts Center from the 14 Apr - 1 May 2-005, 0pening on the 15 Apr.

In the mid 1930s, one of the most famous black entertainers in the world was Paul Robeson, who won raves for his performance of Othello in London as well as on Broadway in Showboat; not to mention his European concert tours. But behind the entertainment was a man enraged at the prejudices suffered by his race in America which, in his eyes, was far behind other civilized countries in the treatment of people of color.

In 1936, after many years of living abroad, Robeson returns home to the States to work on the film version of Showboat. However, he is just as eager to talk about his time overseas where, in his opinion, Negroes enjoyed much more freedoms than they did in the United States. A major object of his admiration is The Soviet Union, which he feels is the societal model that the U.S. should emulate. Robeson freely gives these opinions to the press, despite pleas from his wife and friends to tone down the rhetoric. As time goes on, the rise of the Cold War between the United States and the USSR ultimately turns the American people against him. Things weren't helped by Robeson's own political incorrectness of the time (he was a notorious womanizer). Eventually, Robeson finds himself called before the House Un-American Activities Committee - setting the stage for a dramatic showdown.

Robeson explores the passion and anger behind this man and how the changing times and his own single-mindedness ultimately conspired against him - to the point where he's been largely forgotten by today's world.

Robeson is directed by Keith Oncale and stars Ezra Knight* as Paul Robeson. Knight's most recent New York stage appearance was in 'Coriolanus' with Theatre for a New Audience. Other theatre work includes 'Cymbeline', 'Julius Caesar', 'King Lear' and 'Romeo and Juliet'.

The rest of the cast includes Roy Bacon*, Annmarie Benedict*, Tom Cappadona, Korey Jackson*, Abena Koomson*, Bruce Kronenberg*, Robert Lydiard*, John Marino*, Vince Phillip*, Tyrone Robinson* and Ronald Wyche*. This production is an Equity Showcase.

The play has set and costume design by Gregory Tippit, lighting design by Jeff Greenberg, videography by Shawn Washburn and sound design by Howard Harrison.

Robeson marks playwright Miriam Jensen Hendrix's third New York premiere. Her work 'The Should', the study of a South American politician in conflict with the Catholic Church, opened in May, 2002 at the Phil Bosakowski Theatre. In October 2004, her comedy 'When Aunt Daphne Went Nude' played for a limited engagement at the Mint Theater. A native of Chicago, Ms. Hendrix is the author of fifteen plays, as well as several novels and screenplays.

Director Keith Oncale worked with Firedrake Productions on their world premiere of Ring Lardner Jr. and Dalton Trumbo's 'The Fisherman of Beaudrais' in 2003. The Founding Artistic Director of Actors Stock Company NYC, he most recently helmed their Off-Broadway premiere of 'When Aunt Daphne Went Nude'.

Originally published on

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