All Articles Tagged "Katori Hall"
Katori Hall’s play, The Mountaintop, opens on Broadway this month to great acclaim having already won an Oliver Award in London; and the buzz surrounding Samuel J. Jackson and Angela Bassett’s performances hasn’t stopped. (Check out the video after the jump of Ms. Bassett performing a piece from the play on “The Gayle King Show.”)
What inspired a 30-year-old woman who didn’t live through the civil rights movement to retell the story of the night before Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination? Hall told Elle that her mother, who was a teenager at the time of MLK’s death, was forbidden to attend Dr. King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech for fear of violence. Now she’s able to bring that experience to her and many others 43 years later. Read on for more details of the interview from Elle:
(USA Today) — In recent years, African-American playwrights, directors and performers have been responsible for some of Broadway’s most conspicuous hits. This fall brings two new black authors, and black actors will play key roles in a number of high-profile productions expected in the near future. Yet anyone who would propose that racial diversity is no longer a concern should consider some data from the Broadway League. According to in-theater surveys, the Broadway audience remained about three-quarters white from the spring of 1998 through the spring of 2010. African-American audiences peaked at just 6.7%, in the 2006-07 season, with Hispanics and Asians respectively topping out at 8.6% (in 2008-09) and 6.3% (2009-10). (Figures for 2010-11 are not yet available.) ”It is called the Great White Way,” says Samuel L. Jackson, now in previews for Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop. Jackson worries, in fact, that most African Americans “won’t be able to afford to see” Hall’s play, in which he portrays Martin Luther King Jr. “The people who will see it are either affluent or black people who have saved some money for a special event, or maybe someone got them tickets.”
If Stew, who goes by one name, needed any endorsements for “Passing Strange” beyond it’s Tony Award, he could have looked to the fact that Denzel Washington, Whoppi Goldberg, Samuel L. Jackson and Diana Ross all came for a look-see. Or the fact that Toni Morrison and Angela Davis were so moved as to come back for seconds and thirds. But it is Spike Lee who got behind the work in the most supportive way. After a double helping in a single weekend he was distraught enough about the inevitable close of the show to devise a posterity plan. A tale that found itself beyond convention both in content (the coming of age of an African-American rock musician by way of LA, Amsterdam and Berlin) and form (a concert trapped in a play), Lee initially wanted to develop it as a feature production. In the end he got his Tyler Perry on, set up cameras as he had with Roger Guenveur Smith’s brilliant one-man show, “A Huey P. Newton Story”, and began rolling.
This worked out quite nicely. “Passing Strange” showed at Sundance and is now only a Netflix mailing away. But obviously waiting for Spike Lee to have a conversion experience is a less than efficient process for preserving great theatrical work. In the hopes that someone with a camera will hear the call, we propose seven black playwrights deserving of a wider audience. Some already have filmmaking irons in the fire, yet all are ripe for the opportunity.