Irish Rep Revival of Emperor Jones Finds Its Star

News   Irish Rep Revival of Emperor Jones Finds Its Star
Obi Abili will star as Brutus Jones in the Off-Broadway staging of Eugene O’Neill’s 1920 drama.
Obi Abili
Obi Abili ARTE France/Travers Productions/Des Willie

Irish Repertory Theatre has announced that British actor Obi Abili will star as Brutus Jones in its upcoming revival of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones Off-Broadway. The London-based actor returns to New York following his performance in Ivo van Hove’s acclaimed staging of Antigone at BAM.

Performances of The Emperor Jones are set to begin March 1 ahead of a March 12 opening. The limited engagement will play through April 23; additional casting will be announced at a later date.

Irish Rep previously staged the play in 2009 to critical acclaim. “The social and political climate of 2017, combined with the immense talent of Obi Abili, implored us to revisit this play, and to do so as soon as possible,” said Irish Rep producing director Ciarán O’Reilly, who will also direct the revival.

The Emperor Jones tells the story of Jones, whose rise to success is propelled by lies, intimidation, and fear. Here’s how Irish Rep outlines O’Neill’s 1920 play: “Following a prison break in the United States, Jones sets himself up as monarch of a Caribbean island. When the Natives rebel after years of exploitation, Jones’s mesmerizing journey into darkness becomes a terrifying psychological portrayal of power, fear, and madness. With his demons in heavy pursuit, the Emperor is forced to confront not just the mortal sins of his past but also the depravities against his ancestors—all in search of forgiveness and salvation.“

The production will feature choreography by Barry McNabb (Finian’s Rainbow), lighting design by Brian Nason (Donnybrook!), set design by Charlie Corcoran (Shining City), costume design by Antonia Ford Roberts (The Sounding) and Whitney Locher (Into the Woods), sound design and music by Ryan Rumery (The Pigeon in the Taj Mahal) and M. Florian Staab (Shining City), additional music by Christian Frederickson (The Purple Lights of Joppa Illinois), and puppet and mask design by Bob Flanagan (Saturday Night Live).

Tickets can be purchased through Irish Rep’s box office by calling (212) 727-2737 or online at

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