Written and performed by Daniel Beaty ( Through the Night, Emergency), The Tallest Tree in the Forest began previews Aug. 30 and will run through Sept. 28 in Kansas City, MO. It will then arrive at the La Jolla Playhouse Oct. 10-Nov. 3. Co-produced by Tectonic Theater Project, the play will transfer to Arena Stage in January and Mark Taper Forum in April of 2014.
The play, which centers on late African American artist and Civil Rights activist Paul Robeson, features songs the singer performed, including "Ol' Man River," "Steal Away" and "Ballad for the Americans."
Here's how the play is billed: "As an internationally-renowned vocalist and star of stage and screen, Paul Robeson was one of the best known African American artists in the world in the early 20th century. Through his singing and acting talent, he became enormously popular and wealthy; but as a champion for human rights, he became controversial to his people and his country. Featuring excerpts from some of Robeson's signature songs, The Tallest Tree showcases award-winning playwright and performer Daniel Beaty in a stunning piece that explores the bold choices that defined Robeson's remarkable life."
Kaufman recently directed the Broadway revival of The Heiress, starring Jessica Chastain. He has also staged I Am My Own Wife, Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams and 33 Variations starring Jane Fonda.
The design and production team for The Tallest Tree in the Forest includes Derek McLane (set), Clint Ramos (costumes), David Lander (lighting), John Narun (projections) and Lindsay Jones (sound). For tickets visit KCRep.