Unspeakable, a Play About Comedian Richard Pryor, Back on Track in Chicago

News   Unspeakable, a Play About Comedian Richard Pryor, Back on Track in Chicago
Unspeakable, a "dramatic fantasia" inspired by the life of comedy star Richard Pryor, is scheduled for an Oct. 6 premiere in Chicago, three years after a previous production derailed.

The New York Times reports that the seven-character play, which debuted at the New York International Fringe Festival back in 2005, will star James Murray Jackson Jr. as Pryor, and will be directed by Rod Gailes OBC, who co-wrote the script with Jackson. The show will play the Broadway Playhouse as part of the Broadway in Chicago series.

The Times said the new producing lineup consists of Tenacity Park, Creative Mind Entertainment, OBC DreamTheatre, Stefani Nicole Von Huben and Kenneth Schapiro.

The planned 2012 production was canceled "due to major funding that did not come through," according to a statement to Playbill.com at the time. Film actor Isaiah Washington had been scheduled to star in the role of Moody, but is not associated with this new production. Co-author Jackson will again play Pryor, a role he originated in the 2005 Fringe production. 

Unspeakable is billed as "an unflinching look at the life and times of an iconic comedic genius," covering a span of 61 years, primarily 1967-82. "Growing up in a Peoria brothel, where his mother toiled as a prostitute [in a place] that his grandmother owned and operated, Pryor faced situations that forever shaped and scarred his sensitive soul. …His imagination allows him to escape and ultimately leads him to comedy. From his rise to super stardom in the shadow of Bill Cosby to his blazingly self-destructive love affair with cocaine and women, Unspeakable captures the duality of his success with the number of internal and emotional demons he battled throughout his life. At the center of Unspeakable is the humanity that connects us all through our vulnerability, intimacy and truth."

For his portrayal of Richard Pryor in the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival production of Unspeakable, writer Jackson received the Festival’s Outstanding Lead Actor Award. The New York-based actor/writer/producer has worked in theatres throughout New York City and the tri-state area, including Ohm Theatre Group, Working Theatre, The Looking Glass Forum, Passage Theatre and SoHo Playhouse. In 2005, he and his wife created Creative Mind Entertainment, an entertainment production company. Writer-director Gailes is a Detroit native, University of Michigan graduate, and an alumnus of the NYU Graduate Film Program. He directed the first developmental workshop of Disney's The Lion King Jr. in partnership with Disney Theatricals and Harlem School of the Arts, and most recently, the Araca Project's Cake by Shawn Nabors.

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