Goodman Theatre announces the cast and creative team for the Chicago premiere of Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) by Pulitzer Prize winner Suzan-Lori Parks, directed by Niegel Smith. Parks, in her “finest work yet” (New York Times), serves up “an American story as much about our present as it is about our past” (Los Angeles Times).
Filled with wit, poetry and original music composed by Grammy Award winner Justin Ellington and performed on stage nightly by Chicago native blues musician Melody Angel, the production follows Hero (Kamal Angelo Bolden), a Texas slave, who faces a simple yet monumental choice: join his master in the Confederate army to win his freedom—or remain enslaved at the plantation. Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) appears May 25 – June 24, 2018 (opening night is June 4 at 7pm) in Goodman Theatre’s 350-seat flexible Owen Theatre. The estimated run time is 2 hours and 30 minutes. Tickets ($10 - $40; subject to change) are available at GoodmanTheatre.org/Father , by phone at 312.443.3800 or at the box office (170 N. Dearborn). The Elizabeth F. Cheney Foundation is the Major Production Sponsor and American Airlines is the Contributing Sponsor.
“The Goodman has brought together a stellar cast to interpret Suzan-Lori Parks’ masterwork,” said Director Niegel Smith, Artistic Director of New York’s The Flea Theater and a former fellow at The Public Theater during the play’s development and 2014 world premiere production. “I’m excited to create, with these actors, a panoply of enslaved folks—joyful, fearful, nurturing, overwhelmed and yet resilient. This is a necessary work, one of black love, black joy and black pain. We need plays like this that look deeply at our history, and how we continue to perpetuate it. I am thrilled by artists like Suzan-Lori who make it part of their work to give us these stories in which we investigate truthfully.”
Smith’s cast also features William Dick as Colonel; Aimé Donna Kelly as Penny, Hero’s devoted love; Jaime Lincoln Smith as Homer, whose rivalry with Hero is defined by a betrayal. Rounding out the cast are Sydney Charles (Second), Ronald L. Conner (Third), James Bernard Gilbert II (Runaway), Nicole Michelle Haskinsas (Runaway), Ernest Perry Jr. (The Oldest Old Man), Tyrone Phillips (Runaway), Michael Aaron Pogue(Fourth), BrittneyLove Smith (Odyssey Dog), Demetrios Troy (Smith) and Jacqueline Williams (Leader). The creative team also includes Courtney O’Neill (set), Linda Cho (costumes) and Keith Parham (lighting).
In addition, Chicago-based blues musician Angel makes her Goodman Theatre debut as a contemporary narrator who comments on the circumstances and setting to direct the audience’s focus.
“I consider Suzan-Lori Parks a super hero, and to have my theatrical debut in one of her plays at one the best theaters in the world is an honor,” said Angel, who kicks off the Chicago Blues Festival performing the national anthem on Friday, June 8. “Father Comes Home From the Wars is a story about choices and how one decision can either lead you or change you completely. In my own music, I live by a quote from Nina Simone, ‘it's an artist's duty to reflect the times in which we live.’ This is what this role has given me through the music Suzan-Lori created—an opportunity to reflect the times.”
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Suzan-Lori Parks (Playwright) was named one of Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave” in 2002, Parks was the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her Broadway hit Topdog/Underdog. A MacArthur “Genius” Award and Gish Prize recipient, she has also been awarded grants by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts. Her play Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2, & 3) made its world premiere at The Public Theater in New York, followed by a run at American Repertory Theatre in Cambridge, MA, and Center Theatre Group in Los Angeles. The play was named a finalist for the 2015 Pulitzer Prize for Drama and was awarded the 2015 Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama Inspired by American History, as well as the 2014 Horton Foote Prize. Parks’ work on The Gershwin's Porgy and Bess was honored with the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her numerous plays include The Book of Grace, In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (1996 Obie Award), 365 Days/365 Playsand The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, among others. Parks’ novel Getting Mother's Body was published by Random House. Her first feature-length screenplay was Girl 6, written for Spike Lee. She’s also written screenplays for Brad Pitt, Denzel Washington and Jodie Foster, as well as adapting Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which premiered on ABC’s Oprah Winfrey Presents. Parks is currently writing an adaptation of the film The Harder They Come for a live stage musical. She is the master writer chair at The Public Theater, A Residency One playwright at Signature Theatre and serves as a professor in dramatic writing at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts.
Niegel Smith (Director) is a Bessie Award winning theater director and performance artist. He is the artistic director of New York’s Obie-Award winning The Flea Theater, board member of A.R.T./New York and ringleader of Willing Participant ( WillingParticipant.org ), an artistic activist organization. His theater work has been produced by The Alley Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The Flea Theater, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, The Invisible Dog, Luna Stage, Magic Theatre, Mixed Blood, New York Fringe Festival, New York Live Arts, Phoenix Theatre Ensemble, Playwrights Horizons, Pomegranate Arts, The Public Theater, St. Ann’s Warehouse, Summer Play Festival, Todd Theatre and Under the Radar, and his participatory walks and performances have been produced by Abrons Arts Center, American Realness, Dartmouth College, Elastic City, The Invisible Dog, Jack, The New Museum, Prelude Festival, PS 122, the Van Alen Institute and Visual AIDS. He often collaborates with playwright/performer Taylor Mac and with artist Todd Shalom. Smith is co-director of the critically acclaimed A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, winner of the Kennedy Prize for Drama, Bessie Award, the Edwin Booth Award and a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He was also the associate director of the Tony Award-winning musical FELA! – restaging that production in London, Lagos and its world tour. He assistant directed the off-Broadway production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee and both the Broadway and off-Broadway productions of Tony Kushner’s Caroline, or Change. He has worked on the artistic staffs of The Public Theater, Trinity Repertory Company and Providence Black Repertory Company. A graduate of Dartmouth College, Smith has received residencies, grants and/or fellowships from Brooklyn Arts Council, Brooklyn Arts Exchange, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the MAP Fund, New York Stage and Film, Sundance Theatre Lab, Theater Communications Group, Tucker Foundation, Van Lier Fund and VoxFest. NiegelSmith.com
TICKETS, DISCOUNTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS
Tickets ($10-$40) – GoodmanTheatre.org/Father; 312.443.3800; Fax: 312.443.3825; TTY/TDD: 312.443.3829
Box Office Hours – 12noon - 5pm; on performance days, the box office remains open until 30 minutes past curtain
MezzTix – Half-price day-of-performance mezzanine tickets available at 10am online (promo code MEZZTIX)
$10Tix – Student $10 advance tickets; limit four, with valid student ID (promo code 10TIX)
Teen Arts Pass (TAP) – $5 day-of-performance tickets for teens ages 13-19; subject to availability; limit two, with valid TAP identification. Sign up at TeenArtsPass.org (promo code TAP)
CityKey – CityKey Cardholders access half-price mezzanine tickets; limit four, with valid CityKey ID. Sign up atChiCityClerk.com/ChicagoCityKey (promo code CITYKEY)
Group Sales are available for parties 10+; 312.443.3820
Gift Certificates – Available in any amount; GoodmanTheatre.org/GiftCertificates
ACCESSIBILITY AT THE GOODMAN
Touch Tour, June 17 at 12:30pm – A presentation detailing the set, costume and character elements
Audio Described Performance, June 17 at 2pm – The action/text is audibly enhanced for patrons via headset
ASL Interpreted Performance, June 23 at 2pm – Professional ASL interpreter signs the action/text as played
Open Captioned Performance, June 24 at 2pm – An LED sign presents dialogue in sync with the performance
Visit Goodman Theatre.org/Access for more information about Goodman Theatre’s accessibility efforts.
ABOUT GOODMAN THEATRE
AMERICA’S “BEST REGIONAL THEATRE” (Time magazine), Goodman Theatre is a premier not-for-profit organization distinguished by the excellence and scope of its artistic programming and civic engagement. Led by Artistic Director Robert Falls and Executive Director Roche Schulfer, the theater’s artistic priorities include new play development (more than 150 world or American premieres), large scale musical theater works and reimagined classics (celebrated revivals include Falls’ productions of Death of a Salesman and The Iceman Cometh). Goodman Theatre artists and productions have earned two Pulitzer Prizes, 22 Tony Awards, over 160 Jeff Awards and many more accolades. In addition, the Goodman is the first theater in the world to produce all 10 plays in August Wilson’s “American Century Cycle” and its annual holiday tradition A Christmas Carol, which celebrated its 40th anniversary this season, has created a new generation of theatergoers. The Goodman also frequently serves as a production partner with local off-Loop theaters and national and international companies by providing financial support or physical space for a variety of artistic endeavors.
Committed to three core values of Quality, Diversity and Community, the Goodman proactively makes inclusion the fabric of the institution and develops education and community engagement programs that support arts as education. This practice uses the process of artistic creation to inspire and empower youth, lifelong learners and audiences to find and/or enhance their voices, stories and abilities. The Goodman’s Alice Rapoport Center for Education and Engagement is the home of such programming, most offered free of charge, and has vastly expanded the theater’s ability to touch the lives of Chicagoland citizens (with 85% of youth participants coming from underserved communities) since its 2016 opening.
Goodman Theatre was founded by William O. Goodman and his family in honor of their son Kenneth, an important figure in Chicago’s cultural renaissance in the early 1900s. The Goodman family’s legacy lives on through the continued work and dedication of Kenneth’s family, including Albert Ivar Goodman, who with his late mother, Edith-Marie Appleton, contributed the necessary funds for the creation of the new Goodman center in 2000.
Today, Goodman Theatre leadership also includes the distinguished members of the Artistic Collective: Brian Dennehy, Rebecca Gilman, Henry Godinez, Dael Orlandersmith, Steve Scott, Chuck Smith, Regina Taylor,Henry Wishcamper and Mary Zimmerman. David W. Fox, Jr. is Chair of Goodman Theatre’s Board of Trustees, Cynthia K. Scholl is Women’s Board President and Justin A. Kulovsek is President of the Scenemakers Board for young professionals.
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