Penumbra Theatre Company, the nation's preeminent African American theatre, announces a special presentation of I Wish You Love in the 2011-2012 season. Due to popular demand, 16 performances will be staged at Penumbra Theatre November 18 - December 4, 2011. Details included in the quick reference below.
"This is the first time in Penumbra's history that we are not able to extend a show due to popular demand. Immediately following the run at Penumbra, the show will be presented at the Kennedy Center, and then at the Hartford Stage in Connecticut. It is important that our home town audiences get a chance to see it, and the first opportunity available is November, 2011," says Artistic director, Lou Bellamy. "We are proud of this production and grateful that critics and audiences have deemed it a "must-see show." We are thrilled to bring it back!"
The production features Dennis W. Spears as Nat "King" Cole, singing over 20 of Mr. Cole's beloved songs. The cast also includes Kevin D. West (Oliver Moore), Eric Berryman (Jeffrey Prince), and Michael Tezla (Bill Henry).
I Wish You Love is a drama with music about a moment in the life of Nat "King" Cole. The play uses Cole's television show as a way to illustrate the man, the times, and the real life drama behind the sanitizing lens of the television camera. In 1957, President Eisenhower had the Civil Rights Act on his desk that he may or may not sign. Althea Gibson had won Wimbledon. Nine children were about to integrate Little Rock Central High School in Arkansas. And, Nat "King" Cole was the first black man that many in America let into their living room as they swooned to his tunes, including "Get Your Kicks on Route 66" and "Let There Be Love." Cole came to the forefront of American life as the storm clouds of the modern civil rights era grew. Still, he believed that with enough talent and persistence he would be judged on the content of his character as opposed to the color of his skin. This production will be relevant to all ages and engage everyone in a dialogue about the power of advocacy - and how it can create change.
The artistic team also includes Lance Brockman (Scenic Designer), Don Darnutzer (Lighting Designer), Mathew J. LeFebvre (Costume Designer), Martin Gwinup (Sound and Video Designer), Sanford Moore (Musical Director), and Mary K. Winchell (Stage Manager).
I Wish You Love was developed in OKRA, the Penumbra new play development program, with support from Travelers. This Play was originally produced with the assistance of The Kennedy Center's Fund for New American Plays.
PENUMBRA THEATRE was founded in 1976 by Lou Bellamy to make socially responsible art - art that demanded a response, art with intent, art that could create change. At a time when roles for black artists were limited to stereotypes and comical representations, Penumbra produced theater that roared with authenticity through the unrestrained and rich voice of black artists and playwrights. This respect for cultural authenticity became Penumbra's signature style - and demand for it has reached new heights from theatres around the country fostering collaborations, new productions, tours and awards. For the latest news and updates, visit www.penumbratheatre.org.
OKRA, the Penumbra Theatre new play program was launched in 2008-- a rigorous culturally specific program where playwrights can develop their plays in a safe, nurturing environment without restriction or reservation. The program has three components dedicated to play development - the expansion of early ideas, the exploration of a play script, and a developmental workshop to share the script with an audience. The ultimate goal of OKRA is to move a new play onto the main stage. Each year, we conduct Word(s)Play!, an intense development workshop for playwrights to refine completed scripts with the help of actors, directors, designers and musicians - readying it for full production. Penumbra has nurtured three plays that have received further production opportunities at New York Theatre Workshop and LAByrinth Theatre Company in New York City; Providence Black Rep in Providence, Rhode Island; and American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco, California. Word(s)Play! has quickly gained critical acclaim within the industry for the caliber of the playwrights involved and the complexity of the works selected. The program receives generous support from the Jerome Foundation.