Forty years before Lincoln abolished slavery and fifty years before Black Americans could vote, the African Company of New York were putting on plays in downtown Manhattan. Aware of prejudices from the Upper Classes of the White community and with their own internal issues, tensions arise when the African Company prepare to stage Richard III and relocate to a hotel next door to the Park Theatre, the very place a fiercely competitive white-owned theatre company are preparing for their own version of the same production, Richard III.
The powerful English Producer Stephen Price stops at nothing to close the rival African Company production down and succeeds in having members of the company arrested. Unable to perform Shakespeare’s Richard III, The African Company begin to think about performing their own stories and experiences and as a result, find their own voice in America.
Semsem Kuherhi, Producer for Collective Artistes says:
“Collective Artistes are excited to present this compelling true story. With the backdrop of traditional Shakespeare mixed with modern issues and conflicts this play showcases talent prevailing over prejudice”
Collective Artistes is an International Black Ensemble committed to producing culturally diverse professional and community theatre of social concern. Past work includes The Lion and the Jewel, Young Vic and an international tour of Things Fall Apart.
Writer Carlyle Brown is the founding artistic director of The Carlyle Brown&Company, a theatre company devoted to the research and development of Black American theatrical forms. His other plays include The Little Tommy Parker, produced off-Broadway by the Negro Ensemble Company, which was nominated for six Audelco Awards and published by Dramatists Play Service. He has also performed his original one-man show, Sea Never Dry at the Arizona Theatre Company. Another work, Yellow Moon Rising, was developed under his direction with students from the graduate acting program at New York University’s Tisch School for the Arts.
The cast include Antonia Kemi Coker (Salt-Theatre Rites; How to Beat the Giant-Unicorn Theatre; The Big Life-Theatre Royal Stratford East); Krystie Hylton (Whistle Down The Wind-DC Productions; The King and I-Ravensbourne Light Operatic Society); Chris Tummings (The Harder They Come-Theatre Royal Stratford East; The Big Life-Apollo Theatre; Fabulation-Tricycle); Shango Baku; Charlie Folorunsho (Mohammed Ali and Me-Oval House; Evocation of Papa Mas-Brighton Dome) Simon Ryerson (The Would be Gentleman-Unicorn Theatre; Facades-Riverside Studios; Coming Up For Air-Nu Century Arts) and Maxwell Hutcheon.
“Pulsing with vitality…Yoruba-based dancing and song…Mike’s vivaciously costumed production never lets up in energy”.
Dominic Cavendish- The Daily Telegraph ‘The Lion and the Jewel’
“Soyinka’s play has strong pantomime elements particularly in its enactment of stories within the main story, which are choreographed by Koffi Koko with sinuous beauty and gleeful energy”.
Lyn Gardner- The Guardian ‘The Lion and the Jewel’