Trinity Rep presents Olivier award-winning play ‘The Mountaintop’

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Katori Hall’s Olivier Award-winning play “The Mountaintop” kicks off 2017 at Trinity Repertory Company and continues the 53rd season, Ghosts of the Past, Dreams of the Future. Directed by Kent Gash, performances run January 12 through February 12 in Trinity Rep’s Dowling Theater. Tickets are available at www.trinityrep.com, by calling 351-4242 or at the theater’s box office at 201 Washington St., Providence.

April 3, 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. returns to Memphis’ Lorraine Motel after delivering his famous “mountaintop” speech. There he is visited by a spirited young maid who challenges him to come to terms with his life, life’s end and legacy. This breathtaking re-imagining of the last night of one of America’s greatest heroes achieves what only theatre can do – it brings Dr. King to immediate, spontaneously felt life. And in his presence, as embodied by beloved resident actor Joe Wilson Jr., audiences experience, understand and appreciate the whole man. Winner of England’s Olivier Award for Best Play, a hit on Broadway, and now one of the most produced plays in America, “The Mountaintop” – with surprising humor and newfound urgency – draws audiences a bit closer to the summit.

“As we in America face a shifting political future and when African Americans unsurprisingly find themselves having to justify, yet again, the idea that black lives matter, Katori Hall’s extraordinary cyclone of a play, “The Mountaintop,” is more necessary than ever,” said director Kent Gash. “The play asks, ‘What has our individual role been thus far? What might it be in this moment?  What future will we see from the mountaintop?’”

“The Mountaintop” features resident acting company members Joe Wilson Jr. as Dr. King and Mia Ellis as the maid.

Community leaders Valerie Tutson and Rochel Coleman from Rhode Island Black Storytellers will host the Prologue before each performance: one hour before curtain, Valerie or Rochel will lead a 30-minute chat about the history of the production and playwright and how this show speaks to our country today. Each prologue ends with a short participatory Q&A session.

The creative team includes Jason Sherwood (set design), Kara Harmon (costume design), Dawn Chiang (lighting design), Justin Ellington (sound design) and Shawn Duan (projection design) with stage manager Meg Tracy Leddy.

Katori Hall is a journalist, performer and playwright whose plays include “Hoodoo Love” (AUDELCO nomination for August Wilson Playwright Award), “Remembrance,” “Hurt Village,” “Saturday Night/Sunday Morning,” “On the Chitlin’ Circuit” and “Freedom Train” (KCACTF 10-minute play national finalist). Her work has been developed and presented at the American Repertory Theatre, Kennedy Center, Cherry Lane Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, Schomburg Center, BRICLab, Women’s Project, World Financial Center, Lark Play Development Center, New Professional Theatre, The O’Neill, Juilliard School, Stanford University, and Columbia University. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lecompte du Nouy Prize, North Manhattan Arts Alliance Fellowship, New York State Council on the Arts Commission Grant, New Professional Theatre’s Writers’ Festival award, Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, New York Foundation of the Arts Fellowship in Playwriting and Screenwriting, Royal Court Theatre Residency, and the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award. She is a proud member of the Women’s Project Playwrights’ Lab, the Lark Playwrights’ Workshop, and the Dramatists Guild.

This is Joe Wilson Jr.’s 12th season with the company. His roles have included Jim Casey (The Grapes of Wrath), George (Intimate Apparel), Gavin Ring-Mayne (House and Garden), Duke of Albany (King Lear), Bernard (Boeing Boeing), Antonio (Merchant of Venice), Albert and Kevin (Clybourne Park), Lancelot (Camelot), Eugene (Yellowman), Emcee (Cabaret), Clarence (It’s a Wonderful Life), Orsino (Twelfth Night), Vinnie (The Odd Couple), Walter Lee (A Raisin in the Sun), Scrooge (A Christmas Carol), Sam (Paris by Night), Willie Stark (All the King’s Men), El Gallo (The Fantasticks), Lopakin (Cherry Orchard), Topdog/Underdog, Andre (Ain’t Misbehavin’), and Horatio (Hamlet). Mr. Wilson appeared on Broadway in the 2000 Tony Award Nominated Jesus Christ Superstar and Off Broadway in the critically acclaimed Little Ham and Josephine’s Song. He has also appeared at The Dallas Theater Center, North Shore Music Theatre, Alliance Theater, McCarter Theater, Syracuse Stage, Guthrie Theater, Ordway Music Theater, Children’s Theatre Co. (Acting Company Member), American Players Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, and New Rep. Theater.

Wilson has a B.A. in political science from the University of Notre Dame, and an MFA in Acting from the University of Minnesota/

Guthrie Theatre. He is the recipient of the 2014 Volunteer of the Year Award from the Manton Avenue Project in the Olneyville neighborhood of Providence for recognition of his contributions as a guest artist, teacher and board member. In addition, he is the recipient of the Siseretta Jones Award for Cultural Literacy and the Arts, 2012 from the Rhode Island Black Heritage Society awarded to excellency in the arts (acting) presented “in recognition of those who have made outstanding contributions to the African American Community of Rhode Island.” He was also a Featured Artist in “Black Lavender,” Brown University, Providence, RI 2009-2010: an exhibit curated by Robb Dimmick and sponsored by the Rhode Island Council for Humanities, highlighting the historical contributions of black gay men in Rhode Island.

Wilson is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and is a proud member of the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG/AFTRA. Joe Wilson, Jr. and Trinity Repertory Company are participants in the Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowships, funded by the William & Eva Fox Foundation and administered by Theatre Communications Group.

This is Mia Ellis’ fourth season with the company. All of the roles she’s played at Trinity Rep have been her favorite and include Esther (Intimate Apparel), Mrs. Wainwright (Grapes of Wrath), Ghost of Christmas Past/Sister-in-Law (A Christmas Carol), and Francine/Lena (Clybourne Park). Ms. Ellis also had the opportunity to play Ophelia in Hamlet at Bread Loaf during the summer of 2012. Her first regional show was A Christmas Carol at New Stage Theatre in Mississippi. She is also a teaching artist and a writer, and has worked with YASI as a teaching artist and counselor. Her solo show, Two Grey Hairs, was performed in NY at the Triskelion Arts Center in July 2013 and at the Under St. Marks Theater in June 2014. While in NY, Ms. Ellis also had the chance to work on the television shows Person of Interest and What Would You Do. She is a proud graduate of the Brown/Trinity MFA program.

Season sponsors Ocean State Job Lot and RISCA for supporting The Mountaintop.

The State Theater of Rhode Island, Trinity Repertory Company is now in its 53rd season. Since its founding in 1963, Trinity Repertory Company has been one of the most respected regional theaters in the country. Featuring the last permanent resident acting company in America, Trinity Rep presents a balance of world premiere, contemporary, and classic works for an estimated annual audience of approximately 145,000. Since 1963, the theater has produced 66 world premieres, mounted national and international tours, and, through its MFA program, trained hundreds of new actors and directors.

Subscriptions for the 2016-2017 season Ghosts of the Past, Dreams of the Future are now on sale. The remainder of Trinity Rep’s season include Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Faithful Cheaters by Deborah Salem Smith and Fuente Ovejuna (The Sheep’s Well) by Lope de Vega Carpio. For more information and to purchase tickets, call the box office at 351-4242 or visit Trinity Rep’s website at www.trinityrep.

com.

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