Court Theatre, under the continuing leadership of Charles Newell, Marilyn F. Vitale Artistic Director, and Angel Ysaguirre, Executive Director, has announced casting for August Wilson’s King Hedley II, directed by Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson. King Hedley II runs September 12 – October 13, 2019 at Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Placing his hopes and dreams on the line, a man pieces together his life in Pittsburgh after seven years in prison. Family ties are tested and crime and retribution collide in August Wilson’s ninth play in the American Century Cycle--Court’s eighth production in our ongoing commitment to producing all ten plays of the cycle. Nationally acclaimed for his direction of August Wilson’s plays, Resident Artist Ron OJ Parson brings a depth of humanity to Wilson’s interrogation of African American life in the 1980s.
The cast includes Kierra Bunch (Tonya), Ronald L. Conner (Mister), Kelvin Roston Jr. (Hedley), A.C. Smith (Elmore), TayLar (Ruby) and Dexter Zollicoffer (Stool Pigeon).
The creative team includes Regina Garcia (scenic design), Alex Rutherford (costume design), Mike Durst (lighting design) and Christopher M. LaPorte (sound design).
About the Artists
AUGUST WILSON (Playwright, 1945–2005) authored Radio Golf, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II, and Gem of the Ocean. These works explore the heritage and experience of African Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the twentieth century. His plays have been produced at regional theatres across the country and all over the world, as well as on Broadway. In 2003, Mr. Wilson made his professional stage debut in his one-man show, How I Learned What I Learned. Mr. Wilson’s works garnered many awards including Pulitzer Prizes for Fences (1987) and for The Piano Lesson (1990); a Tony Award for Fences; Great Britain’s Olivier Award for Jitney; as well as seven New York Drama Critics Circle Awards for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Fences, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, The Piano Lesson, Two Trains Running, Seven Guitars, Jitney, and Radio Golf. Additionally, the cast recording of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom received a 1985 Grammy Award, and Mr. Wilson received a 1995 Emmy Award nomination for his screenplay adaptation of The Piano Lesson. Mr. Wilson’s early works included the one-act plays The Janitor, Recycle, The Coldest Day of the Year, Malcolm X, The Homecoming, and the musical satire Black Bart and the Sacred Hills. Mr. Wilson received many fellowships and awards, including Rockefeller and Guggenheim Fellowships in Playwriting, the Whiting Writers Award, the 2003 Heinz Award, a 1999 National Humanities Medal, and numerous honorary degrees from colleges and universities, as well as the only high school diploma ever issued by the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. He was an alumnus of New Dramatists, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a 1995 inductee into the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and on October 16, 2005, Broadway renamed the theatre located at 245 West 52nd Street—The August Wilson Theatre. Additionally, Mr. Wilson was posthumously inducted into the Theater Hall of Fame in 2007. Mr. Wilson was born and raised in the Hill District of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and lived in Seattle, Washington at the time of his death. He is immediately survived by his two daughters, Sakina Ansari and Azula Carmen Wilson, and his wife, costume designer Constanza Romero.
RON OJ PARSON (Director) hails from Buffalo, New York and is a graduate of the University of Michigan’s professional theatre program. He is a Resident Artist at Court Theatre, former co-founder and artistic director of the Onyx Theatre Ensemble, and co-founder of the Beyond the Stage Theatre Project. Ron is a company member of TimeLine Theatre, and associate artist at Writers Theatre and Teatro Vista. Recent directing credits include Sunset Baby by Dominique Morriseau (TimeLine Theatre), East Texas Hot Links (Writers Theatre), Apt 3A (Windy City Playhouse), The Who & The What (Victory Gardens); Gem of the Ocean, Seven Guitars, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, and Jitney by August Wilson, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall, Waiting for Godot by Samuel Beckett, and Blues for an Alabama Sky by Pearl Cleage (Court Theatre); Detroit 67 (Northlight Theatre); and A Raisin in the Sun (TimeLine Theatre). Chicagoland theatres Ron has worked with include Black Ensemble Theatre, ETA, Congo Square Theatre, Goodman, Writers, Victory Gardens, Teatro Vista, Chicago Dramatists, Urban Theater Company, Steppenwolf, Chicago Theatre Company, and City Lit. Regional theatres include Virginia Stage Company, Portland Stage, Studio Theatre, Studio Arena Theater, Roundabout Theatre, Mechanic Theatre, Center Stage in Baltimore, Actors Theatre of Louisville, Milwaukee Rep, St. Louis Black Rep, Pittsburgh Public Theater, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre, Geva Theatre, Signature Theatre (New York), Alliance Theatre, South Coast Rep, and Pasadena Playhouse. In Canada, Ron directed the world premiere of Palmer Park by Joanna McClelland Glass at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. Ron is a proud member of AEA, SAG-AFTRA, and SDC.
KIERRA BUNCH (Tonya) Most recently Kierra was onstage in Windy City's Playhouse production of Southern Gothic, Lookingglass Theatre's Plantation and has had the honor to work with many other theater companies in Chicago, notably, Urban Theater Company, Black Ensemble Theater and ETA Theater (Black Theater Alliance Awards Nomination for Best New Actress and Best Performance in an Ensemble). Besides stage work, Kierra was a series regular on the Emmy Award winning children's television show, Green Screen Adventures. She has also recently appeared on Chicago Med, in a recurring role on FOX's Empire and can be seen in the new sitcom SouthSide on Comedy Central.
RONALD L. CONNER (Mister) has worked with Court on Seven Guitars and The Piano Lesson. Chicago credits include Jitney and King Hedley II (Congo Square Theatre, Ensemble Member); A View From the Bridge, Father Comes Home…, and Sweat (Goodman Theatre); Pipeline (Victory Gardens Theater), SS! Twelfth Night (Chicago Shakespeare Theater), and Paradise Blue (TimeLine Theatre). Regional credits include The St. Louis Black Repertory Company, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, Portland Stage Company, Olney Theatre, and Geva Theatre of Rochester. Television and Film credits include SouthSide (COMEDY CENTRAL), Chasing The Blues (Film), The Chi (SHOWTIME), Empire (FOX), Sirens ( USA), Chicago PD, and Chicago Med (NBC). Ron is represented by Paonessa Talent.
KELVIN ROSTON JR. (Hedley) Court credits include (4-eyed Moe), Seven Guitars (Floyd Barton), Porgy and Bess(Jim/Crown), and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom (Sylvester). Other credits throughout Chicagoland include Congo Square, Paramount, Marriott-Lincolnshire, Goodman, ITC, Eta, Writers, Black Ensemble, TimeLine, Northlight, and Steppenwolf. Regional credits include The Black Rep (St. Louis, MO), Fulton (Lancaster, PA), New Theatre (Overland Park, KS), MSMT (Brunswick, ME), Baltimore Center Stage (Baltimore, MD), Mosaic (Washington DC), Apollo (New York, NY). He has worked internationally at Orb (Tokyo, Japan) and Festival Hall (Osaka, Japan). Television roles include Chicago Med, Chicago PD, KFC, Instant Care, and Ace Hardware. Film credits include Get a Job, Princess Cyd, and Breathing Room. He has won one Jeff Award, 3 BTA Awards, 2 Black Excellence Awards, and a NAMI Award. Kelvin is represented by Paonessa Talent.
A.C. SMITH (Elmore) makes his return to Court Theatre where he was last seen in a staged reading of Thurgood, where he portrayed Thurgood Marshall. He’s appeared at Court in other productions ranging from Moliere to the great August Wilson, and a host of other classic works. Smith received the Joseph Jefferson award for his portrayal of Troy Maxson in Court's production of Fences. Regional credits include Writers Theatre, Clarence Brown Theater, Portland Stage Company, Actors Theater of Louisville, Milwaukee Repertory Theater, Kansas City Repertory Theater, Ensemble Theater of Cincinnati, Indiana Repertory Theater, Geva Theater Center, Peninsula Players Theater, and the St. Louis Black Rep where he has been a company member for 21 years and is a nine-time Woodie King Jr. Award winner. National tour credits include The Piano Lesson directed by Lloyd Richards. Off Broadway credits include the title role of Jelly Belly (Adelco Award nomination - New Federal Theater). Smith has appeared on film, television, radio, voice-overs, commercials, and in Ebony and Jet Magazines. He is represented by Paonessa Talent Agency.
TAYLAR (Ruby) A local and regional actress, TayLay has performances include Goodman Theatre’s Sweat, The Little Foxes, Ruined, The Convert, Mary, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and The Cook. Other theatres she’s worked at include: Eclipse’s Blues for An Alabama Sky; Asolo Repertory, Manhattan Theatre Club, Writers, Steppenwolf, Black Ensemble and ETA. Television appearances include: Chicago PD, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, and Empire. Feature film credits include: Southside With You; Teacher; and Ms. White Light. She also can be seen in numerous television commercials. TayLar is represented by Shirley Hamilton Talent.
DEXTER ZOLLICOFFER (Stool Pigeon) has appeared at Court Theatre in Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Electra, Water by the Spoonful, and The Mystery Cycle: Creation and Passion. He has been a Chicago actor for the past thirty years. Other credits include Charm for Northlight Theatre, receiving a Jeff Award for Actor in a Principal Role. TV appearances include Joe Pera Talks to You, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Detroit 1-8-7, and the upcoming SouthSide Stories on Comedy Central. He is also an administrator at The Theatre School at DePaul.
Title: King Hedley II
By: August Wilson
Directed by: Ron OJ Parson
Dates: Previews: September 12 – 20, 2019
Press Opening: Saturday, September 21, 2019 at 7:30pm
Regular Run: September 22 – October 13, 2019
Schedule: Wed/Thurs/Fri: 7:30 p.m.
Sat/Sun: 2:00 p.m. & 7:30 p.m.
Location: Court Theatre, 5535 S. Ellis Ave.
Tickets: $28.50-$56 previews
$37.50-$74 regular run
Box Office: Located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue, Chicago; (773) 753-4472 or www.CourtTheatre.org.
Three, four and five-play subscriptions to Court’s 2019/20 season range from $96 to $300 and are on sale now. To purchase a subscription or to receive more information, call the Court Theatre Box Office at (773) 753-4472, or visit Court’s website at www.CourtTheatre.org. Individual tickets for all shows will be available in Summer 2019.
Court Theatre is the professional theatre of the University of Chicago, dedicated to innovation, inquiry, intellectual engagement, and community service. Court endeavors to make a lasting contribution to classic American theatre by expanding the canon of translations, adaptations, and classic texts. The theatre revives lost masterpieces; illuminates familiar texts; explores the African American theatrical canon; and discovers fresh, modern classics. Court engages and inspires its audience by providing artistically distinguished productions, audience enrichment activities, and student educational experiences.
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