Playwright and performer Anna Deavere Smith is at work on a new play about queer sports icon Billie Jean King, to be directed by Marc Bruni (Beautiful: The Carole King Musical). Titled Love All, the work will have a reading in the first week of August at New York Stage and Film.
The reading will be produced by Harriet Newman Leve and Stephanie Sandberg, with Roy Gabay and Leve serving as general managers. Casting is by Karyn Casi and Charlie Hano at Telsey and Company, and Alisa Solomon will be the production's dramaturg. Casting and creative team is to be announced.
The work will depict the rise of King against the backdrop of the 1960s, and is described in press notes as a "tale of tough competition on the court and gritty teamwork in the world" that "asks what it takes to be a champion and what more it takes to change the course of history."
Considered one of the greatest female tennis players in history, King won 39 Grand Slam titles over her long career. She became the first major female professional athlete to come out publicly as gay in 1981, after being married to fellow tennis player Larry King. Billie ultimately married her former doubles partner Ilana Kloss in 2018. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987.
“As a fan of the theatre, being part of a project like Love All is an honor and honestly a surreal experience, and being able to work with brilliant minds like Anna Deavere Smith, Marc Bruni, and Harriet Leve make this project even more special," said King in a statement. "Our hope is to tell a story that is authentic, inspiring, and entertaining, and one that speaks to people from all walks of life.”
Smith, a recipient of the National Endowment for the Humanities Medal and the MacArthur Fellowship and a Pulitzer Prize finalist, is known for her works drawn from hundreds of interviews, including Fires in the Mirror, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, and Notes From the Field. Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992 was revived Off-Broadway by Signature Theatre last year.