André De Shields Will Star in King Hedley II at Arena Stage; Complete Casting Announced

News   André De Shields Will Star in King Hedley II at Arena Stage; Complete Casting Announced
 
Timothy Douglas, who collaborated with August Wilson on the world premiere of Radio Golf and has directed many of the late playwright's works, will helm a production of King Hedley II at Washington D.C's Arena Stage.

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The production will begin performances Feb. 6 and continue through March 8 in the Fichandler Stage.

Bowman Wright (Our Lady of Kibeho, The Mountaintop) will star as King, the returning ex-convict with seven years of prison haunting him. Wright is joined by E. Faye Butler (Smokey Joe's Café, Pullman Porter Blues) as Ruby, KenYatta Rogers (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom) as Mister, Tony Award nominee André De Shields (The Full Monty, Ain't Misbehavin') as Stool Pigeon, Jessica Frances Dukes (Bootycandy) as Tonya and Michael Anthony Williams (Two Trains Running) as Elmore.

"Set in the 1980s Hill District of Pittsburgh, the ninth installment of Pulitzer Prize winner Wilson's acclaimed play cycle examining Black America follows a scarred ex-convict who struggles to turn his life around and lock away his past," press notes state.

"Playwrights like Eugene O'Neill wanted to write cycles of plays, but it was only August Wilson who completed his brilliant 10-play cycle," artistic director Molly Smith said in a statement. "These plays are strong and contemporary and have already stood the test of time. Arena Stage has a long history of producing many plays in the cycle, from Fences to Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. I know Timothy Douglas and our terrific cast will take King Hedley II and deliver the powerful storytelling that August Wilson intended."

"August Wilson's seminal King Hedley II provides a searing insight into the complex life and trials of a black American man," Douglas added. "Through powerful and stirring spoken word — operatic in scope — the triumphant arias from Hedley and his Pittsburgh Hill District crew provide the very ignition that has sent present-day America into the streets to voice its rallying cry 'Black Lives Matter'!" The creative team for King Hedley II includes set designer Tony Cisek, costume designer Ilona Somogyi, lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes, sound designer Ryan Rumery, New York casting director Geoff Josselson, stage manager William E. Cruttenden III and assistant stage manager Marne Anderson.

Wilson penned Gem of the Ocean, Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, The Piano Lesson, Seven Guitars, Fences, Two Trains Running, Jitney, King Hedley II and Radio Golf, exploring the heritage and experience of African-Americans, decade-by-decade, over the course of the 20th century.

Visit arenastage.org for more information.

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