By Suzan-Lori Parks
Directed by DeMone
March 14 to April 14, 2019
Gunston Arts Center Theatre Two
Opening night: Tuesday, March 19, 2019, 7:30 pm
Topdog/Underdog, a tensely funny and dead serious tragicomedy, is a Cain-and-Abel fable for Black America. Lincoln and Booth have depended on each other since their parents left, and until recently counted on Lincoln’s grifting to get by. Now he has gone straight, impersonating his namesake in a carnival where tourists pay to play assassin. When Booth resolves to become the greatest con man of all time, the brothers struggle over how best to play the tough hand America dealt them.
Suzan-Lori Parks—named among Time magazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next Wave” —is one of the most acclaimed playwrights in American drama today. She is the first African-American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize in Drama, is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient, and in 2015 was awarded the prestigious Gish Prize for Excellence in the Arts. Other grants and awards include those from the National Endowment for the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, New York State Council on the Arts and New York Foundation for the Arts. She is also a recipient of a Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, a CalArts/Alpert Award in the Arts, and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant. She is an alum of New Dramatists and of Mount Holyoke College.
Parks’s project 365 Days/365 Plays (where she wrote a play a day for an entire year) was produced in over 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. Her other plays include: Topdog/Underdog (2002 Pulitzer Prize winner); The Book of Grace; Unchain My Heart: The Ray Charles Musical; In the Blood (2000 Pulitzer Prize finalist); Venus (1996 OBIE Award); The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World; Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1990 OBIE Award, Best New American Play); The America Play and Fucking A. Her adaptation of The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess won the 2012 Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical. Her newest plays, Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3)—set during the Civil War—were awarded the Horton Foote Prize, the Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama as well as being a 2015 Pulitzer Prize Finalist.
DeMone (Director) is an award-winning actor/singer/director and the founding artistic director of The New American Theatre Co. NY. DeMone is excited to return to Avant Bard after appearing as Singer Oedipus in its acclaimed original production of The Gospel at Colonus. Selected directing credits include The Exonerated, The Dutchman, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Jitney, Split Second, Endangered Species (world premiere), The Mountaintop, Runaways, Winter’s Tale, and Barnum. Recent acting credits include Ain’t Misbehavin’, Memphis, the world premiere of the Off-Broadway musical Folk Wandering, Fairytale Christmas (world premiere), and Uncle Vanya. Broadway, national, and international credits include Ragtime, Miss Saigon, Rent, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Gospel at Colonus, Crowns, The Full Monty, Big River, Sweet Charity, Once on This Island, Black Nativity, The Best of Both Worlds, About Clarence and Me, Sideshow, Othello, and Grand Hotel. Film/TV credits include The Inevitable Defeat of Mister and Pete, Bad Street, Amen, In the Eyes of God, California Dreams, Law and Order SVU, Person of Interest, and The Magic Door. DeMone is the recipient of a regional Emmy Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award.