50th anniversary of MLK assassination recognized with presentation of "The Mountaintop"

50th anniversary of MLK assassination recognized with presentation of "The Mountaintop"

America and the world mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Martin Luther King Jr., even as the struggle to resolve racial tension remains a challenge for communities everywhere. L.A. Theatre Works commemorates the anniversary with a touring production of the internationally acclaimed play, The Mountaintop, written by Katori Hall, directed by multiple award-winner Shirley Jo Finney and starring Gilbert Glenn Brown (CBS TV’s The Inspectors, upcoming feature film The Best of Enemies) and Karen Malina White (The Cosby Show, A Different World, Malcolm and Eddie). The company opens the Presenting Series’ spring season with Hall’s award-winning stage play on Friday, January 19, 2018 at 7:30 p.m. A panel discussion immediately follows with La Donna Forsgren, University of Notre Dame, Darryl Heller, Indiana University South Bend Civil Rights Heritage Museum, and the play’s cast as the panelists.

The Mountaintop and UZIMA! African Drumming and Dance Celebration, a free but ticketed event on Saturday, January 20 at 7:30 p.m., complete the center’s annual MLK Week observation Higher Ground.

On the evening of April 4, 1968, only a few hours after his famed “I Have A Dream” speech, Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered outside room 306 of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. In The Mountaintop, Hall fantasizes what may have transpired inside that room before the assassination. Recipient of London’s 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play, Hall’s gripping re-imagining of events is rife with humanity and humor as the celebrated Reverend reveals his hopes, regrets, and fears to a seemingly inconsequential hotel maid.

“It was really important for me to show the human side of King,” said Hall. “During this time, he was dealing with the heightened threat of violence, he was tackling issues beyond civil rights— economic issues—and was denouncing the Vietnam War. So, I wanted to explore the emotional toll and the stress of that. King changed the world, but he was not a deity. He was a man, a human being like me and you. So, it was important to show him as such: vulnerable.”

The Mountaintop received its world premiere in London at Theatre 503 before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in the West End. The 2011 Broadway production starred Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.

L.A. Theatre Works’ national touring program brings audiences at venues across the country the experience of a “live-in-performance” radio drama. Since 2005, L.A. Theatre Works has visited over 300 civic, performing arts, and university venues with productions ranging from Neil Simon’s Prisoner of Second Avenue to L.A. Theatre Works’ original docu-dramas The Great Tennessee Monkey Trial and Top Secret: The Battle for the Pentagon Papers. For three decades, L.A. Theatre Works has been the leading radio theater company in the United States, committed to using innovative technologies to preserve and promote significant works of dramatic literature and bringing live theater into the homes of millions.

Listen to the WUBS 89.7FM interview with Gilbert Glenn Brown on his portrayal of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop.

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