“First-rate!” —The Washington Post
“An emotionally charged wonder!” —DC Theatre Scene
“A production for the ages!” —DC Metro Theater Arts
“The best performance I’ve seen all year!”
The Pulitzer Prize–winning dark comedy by Suzan-Lori Parks about two brothers grappling for destiny.
Directed by DeMone Seraphin
Starring Louis E. Davis and Jeremy Keith Hunter
A tensely funny and dead serious tragicomedy, Topdog/Underdog is a Cain-and-Abel fable for Black America about two brothers named Lincoln and Booth. They have depended on each other since their parents left, and until recently they counted on Lincoln’s grifting to get by. Now Lincoln 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. Acclaimed by The New York Times as the best American play of the last 25 years.
Advisory: This show contains strong language, adult themes, and depictions of gun violence.
Running time: About two hours, plus a ten-minute intermission.
March 14 to April 14, 2019
Gunston Arts Center Theatre Two
Tickets are $40, and available online or by phone at 703-418-4808. For every performance, an allotment of tickets are Pay What You Will, which means you can name your price. You can reserve PWYW tickets online the Monday before each performance for a small service minimum, or at the door with no minimum.
Note that tickets may be scarce because of the rave reviews Topdog/Underdog has received and because five performances have had to be canceled (there was a late change in the cast and the new actor had prior bookings).
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 Seraphin (Director) is founding artistic director of The New American Theatre Co. in New York City and is excited to return to Avant Bard after appearing as Singer Oedipus in its hit production of The Gospel at Colonus (2017). Selected directing credits include The Exonerated, Dutchman, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone, Jitney, Split Second, Endangered Species (world premiere), The Mountaintop, Runaways, Winter’s Tale, and Barnum. He acted with Khalil Kain in the Off-Broadway revival of The Great MacDaddy and directed him in The American Theatre of Harlem’s reading of Closer. DeMone is the recipient of a regional Emmy Award and the Joseph Jefferson Award.