Press Release

Harlem Stage and Theater of War Productions Present 'Antigone in Ferguson' September 13 - October 13, 2018

New York City, NY
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Free performances to feature a live gospel choir and leading actors including Samira Wiley, Paul Giamatti, Adepero Oduye, David Strathairn, Tamara Tunie, Frankie Faison, Kathryn Erbe and will spark community conversations on race and social justice

Harlem Stage and Theater of War Productions today announced an unprecedented five-week FREE run of performances of Theater of War Productions’ original project, Antigone in Ferguson. Opening on September 13 and kicking off Harlem Stage’s 2018/2019 programming season, Antigone in Ferguson was conceived in the wake of Michael Brown’s death in 2014, through a collaboration between Theater of War Productions and community members from Ferguson, MO. Translated and directed by Bryan Doerries and composed by Phil Woodmore, the project fuses a dramatic reading by leading actors of excerpts from Sophocles’ Greek tragedy with live choral music performed by a choir of activists, police officers, youth, and concerned citizens from Ferguson and New York City. The performance is the catalyst for panel and audience-driven discussions on race and social justice, the core component of the event. This multifaceted production will offer a glimpse not only into the effects of the tragedy in Brown’s local community, but also the trauma of police violence and racial injustice in communities of color in New York and across the nation.

During the Antigone in Ferguson run, Harlem Stage, with deep roots in both the Harlem and broader artistic community, and Theater of War Productions will work closely with various partners to engage audiences from across the city, providing interborough transportation and targeted outreach initiatives in order to encourage and facilitate diverse audience attendance for each event. To further deepen connections to the community, performances will be enriched by the participation of local choirs from Harlem and around the city, who will join The Phil Woodmore Singers each week.

Local stakeholders and community leaders will participate as panelists, assisting in opening up dialogues with audiences. These guided discussions, which aim to promote healing and bridge the growing divide between law enforcement and local communities, will focus on the impact of racialized violence against communities of color, and the legacies of the tragic deaths of Michael Brown, as well as Eric Garner, Amadou Diallo, Sean Bell, Saheed Vassell, and numerous other victims.

The presentation will feature a rotating roster of acclaimed actors, including Samira Wiley (The Handmaid’s Tale), who will reprise the role she portrayed in the premiere of Antigone in Ferguson, first presented on the stage of Michael Brown’s high school near Ferguson in 2016. Other cast members include: Paul Giamatti (Billions), Tamara Tunie (Law & Order: SVU), David Strathairn (Good Night, and Good Luck), Adepero Oduye (12 Years a Slave), Frankie Faison (The Wire) and Kathryn Erbe (Law & Order: Criminal Intent). Each week will feature a different group of actors.

“We are grateful to Harlem Stage for creating a home for our work in Harlem,” said Bryan Doerries, artistic director of Theater of War Productions. “With our projects, we strive to make brave spaces for difficult conversations that have the power to heal rifts and strengthen community bonds. With Antigone in Ferguson, we hope to build upon the great work that Harlem Stage has been doing for decades to engage diverse audiences with dynamic performances, igniting dialogue and inspiring positive change.”

“This production reflects our goal of making the arts accessible to everyone and to position the arts as a fertile breeding ground for discussion on current topics” said Monique Martin, director of programming of Harlem Stage.

Antigone in Ferguson is the culmination of artistic director Bryan Doerries’ work as a NYC Public Artist in Residence -- for which Theater of War Productions has presented over 60 performances across all five boroughs. Antigone in Ferguson at Harlem Stage marks a departure from the company’s history of nomadic presentations. Having mounted over 700 events at a range of venues around the world, from Guantanamo Bay to a playground in Brownsville, Brooklyn, this extended run will be the first time Theater of War Productions will embed itself in one location for an extended period of time. Exclusively supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, the 30 free performances at Harlem Stage will offer expanded opportunities for community participation in this innovative social justice project.

“Harlem Stage is incredibly grateful to the Stavros Niarchos Foundation for their generous support of this collaboration with Theater of War Productions which extends our mission-driven programs and enables us to offer the entire five week run for free to the public,” said Pat Cruz, executive director of Harlem Stage.

The company’s partnership with Harlem Stage builds on Doerries’ two-year tenure as Public Artist in Residence, which has also been supported by the Stavros Niarchos Foundation. The residency has served as an incubator for the company’s projects which have been presented to diverse communities around New York City, from audiences at Lincoln Center to Rikers Island, as well as at other community centers such as public libraries, homeless shelters, public housing developments, high schools and domestic violence shelters.

Known as an incubator of performing arts that stems from and relates to Black culture, Harlem Stage was the natural partner for this series. As a legendary uptown venue that has promoted the creative legacy of artists of color from around the globe for over 35 years, Harlem Stage is proud to include Antigone in Ferguson as the launch production for its 2018/2019 season. This upcoming season is curated by Monique Martin, recently appointed Director of Programming, and features artists as #Disrupters, who take creative risks. They reflect the times via a range of artistic genres, offering audiences the chance to experience legendary performers and rising stars.

Antigone in Ferguson at Harlem Stage

Translated and Directed by Bryan Doerries

Composed by Phil Woodmore

Dates: September 13-October 13, 2018 (except for Sundays and Mondays)

Time: 7:30pm (Saturdays: 3:00pm and 7:30pm)

Runtime: 2 hours and 15 minutes

Location: Harlem Stage Gate House,150 Convent Avenue. New York, NY, 10031

Tickets: Tickets are FREE but RSVP is required.

For tickets and further details on cast and performers, visit www.harlemstage.org/

Tickets available beginning August 13; for advanced registration, email: marketing@harlemstage.org

ABOUT ANTIGONE IN FERGUSON

Created in collaboration with citizens from St Louis and Ferguson whose lives were impacted by the death of Michael Brown, Antigone in Ferguson features an unconventional presentation of scenes from Sophocles’ ancient Greek play. The staged readings, performed by leading television, film and theater actors, are accompanied by live music performed by a roster of local choirs who will complement The Phil Woodmore Singers, a St Louis-based gospel choir, featuring police officers, activists, youth, and members of the faith community. Notable members of the choir include Michael Brown’s former teacher, Duane Foster, and Lt. Latricia Allen, Commander of the Community Engagement Unit of the St Louis Metropolitan Police Department, a special unit created following the unrest catalyzed by Brown’s death.

Set in ancient Thebes in the midst of a brutal civil war, Sophocles’ Antigone is a play about a teenage girl who wishes to bury her brother, Polyneices, whose slain body lays lifeless on the street. In defiance of King Creon, who wishes to make a public example of Polyneices, Antigone buries her brother and chaos and violence ensues. At its core, Antigone is a play about what happens when personal conviction and state law clash, raising questions about justice, oppression, and the use of power and force.

The performance seamlessly flows to the heart of the project: a dynamic conversation aimed at fostering empathy and deeper understanding between communities. Following comments and reactions from a panel of community leaders, audience discussions will be guided by De-Andrea Blaylock, a social worker based in St Louis and artistic director Bryan Doerries, among others.

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