(Lenox, MA) – Shakespeare & Company presents MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient Suzan-Lori Parks‘ pulitzer prize-winning play, Topdog/Underdog directed by the distinguished Regge Life, who helmed the Company’s acclaimed razor sharp comedy God of Carnage in 2017. Topdog/Underdog is a dynamic comedic drama running from August 13 to September 8 in the Tina Packer Playhouse.
“Topdog/Underdog is one of the most powerful and moving plays from the theater; and in my opinion it’s Suzan-Lori Parks’ greatest work,” said Director Regge Life. “What makes the play so special and important is in the way she has chosen to show what it means to be an African-American man in the U.S. today. Like Ralph Ellison did with Invisible Man in the 1950’s, peeling away the outer layer of the African-American man, the surface that you encounter day to day, to reveal the core that existentially faces the traps of an uncertain and precarious life in the American experience, Topdog/Underdog updates this story with flair and honesty through the lives of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers who, like the historical characters they were named after, are predestined by their history.”
Named one of TIME magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” in 2002, Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her Broadway hit Topdog/Underdog. This darkly comic fable of brotherly love and family identity is Parks’ original riff on the way we are defined by history. The play tells the story of Lincoln and Booth, two brothers whose names were given to them as a joke, foretelling a lifetime of sibling rivalry and resentment. Haunted by the past, the brothers are forced to confront the shattering reality of their future.
With her trademark explosive language, Suzan-Lori Parks explores the deepest of connections, and what it means to be a family man. Shakespeare & Company’s production of Topdog/Underdog stars Bryce Michael Wood (Lincoln) and Deaon Griffin-Pressley (Booth). Led by Director Regge Life the creative team includes Hope Rose Kelly (Stage Manager), Maegan A. Conroy (Assistant Sage Manager), Cindy Wade (Tech Week Assistant Stage Manager), Cristina Todesco (Set Designer), Stella Schwartz (Costume Designer), Matthew Miller (Lighting Designer), Brendan Doyle (Sound Designer), Melissa Ziccardi (Wardrobe/Assistant Stage Manager), Bob Lohbauer (Weapons Master), and Caleb Harris (Associate Technical Director).
“Suzan-Lori is a piercingly brilliant writer, whose recent production of White Noise Off-Broadway proved once again that her imperative of challenging norms and perspectives is critical in furthering conversation about who were are in this country,” said Artistic Director Allyn Burrows. “Topdog/Underdog established her unequivocally as a voice to be heard and reckoned with, and we’re proud to present it in these times.”
Tickets for Topdog/Underdog are available online at shakespeare.org, or by calling Shakespeare & Company’s box office at (413) 637-3353. The show runs from August 13 to September 8. The Tina Packer Playhouse is indoors, air-conditioned, and wheelchair accessible. Shakespeare & Company is located at 70 Kemble St. in Lenox, Massachusetts.
Join the Company for a free pre-show talk on August 20 at 6:45 pm for insight into the plot and characters of the play to enhance your experience. Additionally, Director Regge Life and cast members host a Director’s Panel on Saturday, August 17 at 11:00 am. Tickets for the Panel can be purchased at shakespeare.org.
The Company’s 2019 Summer Season also includes Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, The Taming of the Shrew, The Merry Wives of Windsor, and a special workshop production ofCoriolanus; plus Tony Award nominees The Children by Lucy Kirkwood, and Time Stands Still by Donald Margulies.
AT A GLANCE:
PLAYWRIGHT: Suzan-Lori Parks
DIRECTOR: Regge Life
STAGE MANAGER: Hope Rose Kelly
ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: Maegan A. Conroy
TECH WEEK ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: Cindy Wade
SET DESIGNER: Cristina Todesco
COSTUME DESIGNER: Stella Schwartz
LIGHTING DESIGNER: Matthew Miller
SOUND DESIGNER: Brendan Doyle
WARDROBE/ASSISTANT STAGE MANAGER: Melissa Ziccardi
WEAPONS MASTER: Bob Lohbauer
ASSOCIATE TECHNICAL DIRECTOR: Caleb Harris
BOOTH: Deaon Griffin-Pressley
LINCOLN: Bryce Michael Wood
Tuesday, August 13 – 8:00 pm (Preview)
Wednesday, August 14 – 8:00 pm (Preview)
Thursday, August 15 – 2:00 pm (Preview)
Friday, August 16 – 8:00 pm (Opening)
Saturday, August 17 – 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Sunday, August 18 – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, August 20 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, August 21 – 2:00 pm (Press Night)
Thursday, August 22 – 2:00 pm
Friday, August 23 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, August 24 – 2:00 pm & 8:00 pm
Sunday, August 25 – 8:00 pm
Tuesday, August 27 – 8:00 pm
Wednesday, August 28 – 8:00 pm
Thursday, August 29 – 2:00 pm
Friday, August 30 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, August 31 – 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Sunday, September 1 – 8:00 pm
Friday, September 6 – 8:00 pm
Saturday, September 7 – 2:00 & 8:00 pm
Sunday, September 8 – 2:00 pm (Closing)
About Suzan-Lori Parks
First Season (Playwright, Topdog/Underdog) A playwright, screenwriter, novelist, and songwriter, Suzan-Lori’s play Topdog/Underdog won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. In 2001 she received a MacArthur Fellows “Genius” Grant, and she holds Honorary Doctor of Fine Arts Degrees from Mount Holyoke College and Spelman College. Her work is the subject of the PBS film “The Topdog/Underdog Diaries,” and her plays are published by Theatre Communications Group and Dramatists Play Service, Inc. Her first feature-length screenplay was “girl 6,” for Spike Lee. She has also written screenplays for Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, and Oprah Winfrey. Other screenplays include adaptations of Toni Morrison’s novel “Paradise,” Zora Neale Hurston’s novel “Their Eyes Were Watching God,” and screenplays for Miramax and Brad Pitt. Her plays include In The Blood (2000 Pulitzer nominee), Venus (1996 Obie Award), Fucking A, The America Play, Imperceptible Mutabilities In The Third Kingdom, (1990 Obie Award), The Death Of The Last Black Man In The Whole Entire World, and 365 Days/365 Plays. Topdog/Underdog (2002 Tony nominee) has had successful runs on Broadway, in cities throughout the United States, and in London at the Royal Court Theatre. Additional recognition includes two NEA playwriting fellowships, a W. Alton Jones Grant, a grant from The Kennedy Center Fund For New American Plays, the Whiting Writer’s Award, and grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Ford Foundation, the CalArts/Alpert Award, the PEW Charitable Trusts, and The Guggenheim Foundation. Suzan-Lori is a professor at the California Institute for the Arts where she heads the Dramatic Writing Program. Her first novel, “Getting Mother’s Body,” is published by Random House. www.suzanloriparks.com
About Regge Life
Fourth season (Topdog/Underdog, Director) At Shakespeare & Company, Regge Life directed the wildly acclaimed Morning After Grace last season, God of Carnage in 2017 and Kaufman’s Barbershop in 2013. He has directed across the country with credits such as Cross That River at 59E59th and for the Aspen Theater, I Just Stopped by to See the Man for Milwaukee Rep, Yellowman and Gem of the Ocean for Pittsburgh Public Theater, Ghosts for the Pearl Theater, Piano Lesson for Virginia Stage Company, A Walk in the Woods at Capital Rep, Rebel Armies into Deep Chad, Laurence Fishburne’s Riff Raff and Arthur Miller’s The American Clock for the Juilliard School and Living in the Wind and Do Lord Remember Me at The American Place Theatre.
About Shakespeare & Company
Located in the beautiful Berkshires of Western Massachusetts, Shakespeare & Company is one of the leading Shakespeare festivals of the world. Founded in 1978, the organization attracts over 40,000 patrons annually. The Company is also home to an internationally renowned Center for Actor Training and award-winning Education Program. More information is available at www.shakespeare.org.