The Wooster Group's workshop production of O'Neill's The Emperor Jones returns to New York, Mar.4-29.
The Wooster Group has been working on Jones intermittently for the past three years, initially presenting it with its other O'Neill production, The Hairy Ape. The Hairy Ape was brought to Off-Broadway's Selwyn Theatre in the spring of 1997. House/Lights, Wooster's production of Gertrude Stein's Doctor Faustus Lights the Lights, made its New York debut in February.
The Emperor Jones is about an African-American who sets himself up as the ruler of a West Indian island. The part of Brutus Jones was played by Charles S. Gilpin when the play had its premiere in 1920 at the famed Provincetown Players Theatre in NY's Greenwich Village; a few seasons later Paul Robeson was to make the role his own.
The Wooster Group consists of Jim Clayburgh, Willem Dafoe, Spalding Gray, Elizabeth LeCompte, Peyton Smith and Kate Valk. The Group has received numerous awards, including National Endowment for the Arts, State Arts Council, and New York City Department of Cultural Affairs grants. In 1991, the Group was awarded an Obie, recognizing 15 years of sustained excellence. That same year, director Elizabeth LeCompte received an NEA Distinguished Artists Fellowship for Lifetime Achievement in American Theatre. In 1995, LeCompte received the MacArthur "genius" grant for her work with The Wooster Group.
Besides his work for Wooster, Dafoe has appeared in many films including Platoon, The Last Temptation of Christ, Light Sleeper and Speed 2. Emperor Jones is performed Wed.-Sat. at 8 PM through Mar. 29 at the Performing Garage, 33 Wooster St. in SoHo. For tickets, call (212) 966-3651.