Corey Hawkins and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, currently starring in the Broadway revival of Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, sat down with Today October 6 to talk about their performances in the Pulitzer-winning work.
"It's a lot of discipline. It feels athletic," shares Hawkins. "There's the discipline leading up to the show and the discipline after the show. We have to not only take care of ourselves, but we have to take care of these characters. These men exist in the world, and we want to do justice to them and show them in all their complexity and their light." Watch the full interview below.
The current revival, directed by Kenny Leon and performing at the John Golden Theatre since September 27, marks the play's 20th anniversary. Opening night is October 20.
Topdog/Underdog follows brothers Lincoln (Hawkins) and Booth (Abdul-Mateen II), named by their father as a joke. Haunted by the past and their obsession with three-card monte, the brothers come to learn the true nature of their history.
The work made its world premiere Off-Broadway at The Public Theater in 2001 with a production directed by George C. Wolfe and starring Don Cheadle and Jeffrey Wright. It transferred to Broadway the following year with Wright reprising his Off-Broadway performance opposite rap artist Mos Def. The production received two 2002 Tony nominations, including Best Play, and won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, making Parks the first Black woman to win the honor. The Broadway cast also brought the work to London's Royal Court Theatre in 2003.
Leon's creative team includes scenic designer Arnulfo Maldonado, costume designer Dede Ayite, lighting designer Allen Lee Hughes, and sound designer Justin Ellington. Casting is by Calleri Jensen Davis, and Kamra Jacobs serves as production stage manager.