James Earl Jones and Roger Robinson to Participate in Ensemble Studio Theatre's First Light Play Festival

By Adam Hetrick
April 5, 2011

Tony Award winners James Earl Jones and Roger Robinson will appear in Bridgette Wimberly's Separation of Blood as part of the Ensemble Studio Theatre and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation's First Light 2011 new play series.



Presented through April 23 at EST, the series is devoted to works that focus on science and technology.

Jones (Driving Miss Daisy, Fences) and Robinson (Joe Turner's Come and Gone, Seven Guitars) will appear in Separation of Blood, which "recalls a perilous drive through the south by Dr. Charles Drew, the African-American who spearheaded the first blood bank in an era when he wasn't allowed to receive a transfusion himself." The performance will take place April 12 at 7 PM.

Additional highlights include the opera Ada, with music by Kim Sherman and a libretto by Margaret Vandenburg, which "chronicles the life of Ada Lovelace, daughter of the poet Lord Byron and widely credited with writing the first computer program." Kimberly Grigsby will musical direct the work that will be presented April 11 at 8 PM at the Five Angels Theater.

Frank Basloe's Please Continue, directed by Matthew Penn ("Law & Order"), "explores the ethical struggles rising from Stanley Milgram's 1960s obedience experiments." It will be presented April 4 at 7 PM.

First Light will culminate in a five-performance run of Tommy Smith's Pidgeon, which "covers the exploits of Leon Theremin, a Soviet scientist and inventor of electronic music who worked in the shadow of Stalin's rule." William Carden will direct a cast including Robert Joy, Curran Connor, Angela Lewis and Peter Maloney. Performances run April 20-23.

Additional works are: Fast Company by Carla Ching (April 5 at 7 PM); Smash by Robert Askins (April 7 at 7 PM); The Secret Life of Arthropods & Rodents by Cori Thomas (April 8 at 3 PM); Big Hungry World by Susan Bernfield (April 12 at 3 PM); Flatland by Sinking Ship Ensemble (April 14-15); and A Lady Alone by Lynn Eckert, Christine Farrell, and Kevin Confoy (April 18 at 7 PM).

All performances (except Pidgeon, which is $15) are free, but there is a $10 suggested donation. Visit EnsembleStudioTheatre. EST is located at 549 West 52nd Street.