September 25, 2000
For Immediate Release
Media contact:
Alice Iseminger
(440) 775-8171

Friday, Oct. 6
{Day}, {Month}. {date}
SaturdayOct78:00 p.m

Sunday, Oct. 8
2:00 p.m

Hall Auditorium
Located at 67 N. Main St. (Route 58), between the Allen Memorial Art Museum and the Oberlin Inn.

Central Ticket Service
Reserved Seating:
$8 public
$6 senior citizens
$6 faculty/staff/alumni
$4 all students

24-hour ticket reservation line:
(440) 775-8169.

Located in the lobby of Hall Auditorium, 67 N. Main St. between the Oberlin Inn and the Allen Art Museum.

Open 12 to 5 pm,
Monday - Friday.

Oberlin College
Theater and Dance Program
67 North Main Street
Oberlin, Ohio 44074-1191


Rooted in Theatrical History in a Slave-holding America.

Photos and complimentary media tickets available: (440) 775-8171

OBERLIN, OHIO- In New York circa 1821, the African Company is forced to relocate its production of Richard III after staunch competition with a rival white theater company prompts authorities to shut down their African Grove stage. In a retelling of the history of America's first African American theater company, playwright Carlyle Brown's The African Company Presents Richard III highlights what Director Caroline Jackson Smith describes as "the tension of Afrocentric and Eurocentric cultures colliding to create American performance traditions."

Despite the upset, The African Company led by entrepreneur William Henry Brown and actor James Hewlett, reestablishes itself at the City Hotel█right next door to Park Theater which is preparing its own production of Richard III with star Junius Brutus Booth making his American debut. The resulting conflict points to the beginnings of African American dramatic literature.

The African Company Presents Richard III will be performed at 8:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, October 6 and 7, with a matinee at 2:00 p.m. October 8 in Oberlin College's Hall Auditorium. Hall Auditorium is wheelchair accessible, parking is free, and hearing enhancement is available upon request. The production is sponsored by Oberlin Theater and Dance Program and the African American Studies Department.

The African Company Presents Richard III explores the human experience█humor, romance, ambition and tragedy█while exploring the complexities of slave-holding, pre-civil war American culture. A New York Times reviewer raves that, "the well-worn opening monologue of Shakespeare's most villainous monarch takes on a new, electrifying resonance. . . [as the] familiar embittered soliloquy becomes a startling cry of racial outrage." As critic Laura V. Blanchard, Vice Chair of the Richard II Society, remarks, "Performance histories of Richard III often chronicle the eccentricities of some nineteenth century performances." However, "The reality is wrenchingly different, and the dissonance is given powerful dramatic treatment in Carlyle Brown's The African Company Presents Richard III."

The members of the African Company█visionary founder, William Henry Brown (Melvin Jimenez, '04), the leading man, James Hewlett (Channing Joseph, '03), a shy leading lady, Ann Johnson (Chaunetta Jones '03), a character actress and costumer, Sarah (Shinnerrie Jackson, '02) and the Caribbean sage they call Papa Shakespeare (Michael S. Preacely, '01)█explore their own painful personal histories and social identities to find passion and belief in the power of language and theater, and the emergence of the African American theater in American tradition. Hewlett, the company's star, remarks, "It's all glass that I know how to polish and make clear. So that any man can see that I am any man." The other members of the Oberlin student ensemble breathing life into Brown's script include: Dan Keegan, '04 (Stephen Price); Adam Marvel, '02 (The Constable-Man); Shannon Forney, '01 (Mrs. Van Dam); Allison Curseen, '04 (Ann Johnson understudy); and Kevin Moreno, '01 (William Henry Brown, understudy).

The production staff is comprised of costume designer Chris Flaharty, associate professor of theater; scenic designer Michael Louis Grube, associate professor of theater; sound designer, Jen Groseth, lecturer in theater; lighting designer Charlotte Phillips, '01; Alana Bailey, '02, stage manager; Aqila Mayle, '02, assistant director; Caleb Miller, '03, production assistant; Chris Miller, '01, production assistant; Janice Reddick, '03, production assistant; and Daryl Williams, '03, production assistant.

Playwright and Director╠s Bios
Playwright Carlyle Brown is the founding director of The Laughing Mirror Theatre, an experimental ensemble company dedicated to the research and development of Black American theatrical forms. His play, The Little Tommy Parker Celebrated Colored Minstrel Show, was nominated for six Audelco awards, and along with The African Company, is a past Cornerstone Prize-winner. Other awards include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, and the Creative Artist Public Service Awards. He performed his one-man play, Sea Never Dry, at the Arizona Theatre Company, and has directed for the graduate program at New York University's Tisch School for the Arts.

Caroline Jackson Smith (director), an Associate Professor of Theater and African American Studies at Oberlin College, has directed widely both locally and nationally. Last season she directed the world premiere of Crossroads Dancing by Irish American playwright Margaret Lynch at the Dobama Theater; The Colored Museum at Oberlin College; and August Wilson's Seven Guitars at Karamu's Performing Arts Theater. Most recently she was a participant in the biannual conference of the Toni Morrison Society and spoke at Dallas Theater Center. Jackson received the 1993 directing from the Theater Communications and the NEA. She made her New York debut at the New York Public Theater in 1995 when she directed Adrienne Kennedy╠s Funnyhouse of a Negro for the Signature Theater Company. She has directed and/or worked as a dramaturg for the Portland Stage, Cleveland Playhouse, Great Lakes Theater Festival, Karamu House, and the Cleveland Public Theater on such productions as The Women of Plums, The Talented Tenth, Ma Rainey╠s Black Bottom, Our Town, Jitney, and an abridged production of Lorraine Hansberry╠s To Be Young, Gifted and Black. Since coming to Oberlin in 1989, Jackson Smith has directed a number of plays for Oberlin, including The Gospel at Colonus, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, The Resurrection of Lady Lester, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, and for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf, and The Darker Face of the Earth. After receiving her BA and graduate training in Afro-American Studies at Yale University, Jackson Smith went on to serve as the head of their Afro-American Cultural Center for eight years.