Phylicia Rashad-Directed Workshop of Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin Begins Feb. 21 at La Jolla Playhouse

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21 Feb 2014

Phylicia Rashad
Phylicia Rashad
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

Performances of a workshop presentation of Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin begin at La Jolla Playhouse Feb. 21. 

The workshop is part of the Playhouse's new play development initiative, the DNA New Work Series. The two-week series, which began Feb. 17, offers playwrights and directors the opportunity to develop a script by providing rehearsal time, space and resources. It continues through March 2, culminating in workshop presentations and public readings. 

Michael Benjamin Washington's play is directed by Tony Award winner Phylicia Rashad (A Raisin in the Sun, "The Cosby Show") and has six public performances through March 2 in the Rao and Padma Makineni Play Development Center.

The cast of Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin features Nija Okoro ("ER," "Southland") as Miriam Caldwell; Jeremy Shranko (The Groundling) as Davis Platt, Jr.; Jacques C. Smith (Rent) as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Michael Benjamin Washington (Memphis, The Wiz) as Bayard Rustin; and James A. Watson, Jr. (Halls of Anger, Death of a Salesman) as A. Philip Randolph.

"In the sweltering political and racial heat of 1963, Bayard Rustin — the brilliant proponent of non-violent civil disobedience — is assigned to orchestrate an unprecedented march for jobs and freedom," press notes state. "Exiled from the Civil Rights movement by both internal and external forces, Rustin grapples with his last chance for professional restoration and spiritual redemption as he masterminds 'a tribute to the ancestors' exactly one century after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation. Blueprints to Freedom: An Ode to Bayard Rustin was given its first reading at the Playhouse on August 28, 2013 — the date of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington — and this workshop represents the next stage in the play's development."

"It takes a special kind of artist to participate in our DNA New Work Series. To give oneself over to the constant revisions and discoveries of a workshop — and to share that process with an audience — requires an open and adventurous spirit," artistic director Christopher Ashley said in a previous statement. "The cast and creative team of Blueprints to Freedom are not only fiercely talented, they're equally committed to the growth of this important new play."

The DNA New Work Series also features The Envelope, by Alex Lewin; Higher, by American Conservatory Theatre artistic director Carey Perloff; The Brothers Paranormal, by Prince Gomolvilas; Tranquil, by Andrew Rosendorf; and The Smartest Girl in the World, by Miriam Gonzales. 

For a complete schedule, tickets and more information call (858) 550-1010 or visit