On July 17 at 8 PM, Roger Guenveur Smith's A Huey P. Newton Story will be performed free of charge at the Strand Theatre as part of Harvard University's "Institute on the Arts & Civic Dialogue," a colloquium on race and other issues being held July 6-Aug. 14.
From his Louisiana childhood to his shooting death on the streets of Oakland, CA, in 1989, A Huey P. Newton Story follows the black activist's rise and fall through a "cinematic, stream of consciousness" monologue. The show won three NAACP Awards (actor, playwright and production) for its Los Angeles engagement and won two Obies for its thrice-extended 1997 run at NY's Public Theatre. The show returned to New York this spring for a number of performances at the Schomberg Center for Research in Black Culture in Harlem.
Author Smith stars as Newton, who co-founded the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense as a response to white racism in America, and his growing feeling that Martin Luther King's pacificistic call for unilateral brotherhood wasn't quite getting the job done. The self-directed monologue is taken from Newton's own written and recorded words and augmented with a soundscape designed by Marc Anthony Thompson.
Previous Smith works in which he's performed include Frederick Douglass Now, Inside The Creole Mafia and Christopher Columbus 1992. He also acted in the Public Theatre's 1989 Coriolanus and directed Culture Clash's Off-Broadway show, Radio Mambo.
For information on A Huey P. Newton Story at Harvard call (617) 282-5230. Also part of the "Dialogue," author/actress Anna Deavere Smith will offer a theatre lab for her current work-in-progress, House Arrest, about the media and the presidency, Aug. 6.
-- By David Lefkowitz