Vineyard and Queens Theatre's History of the Word Begins Feb. 27

News   Vineyard and Queens Theatre's History of the Word Begins Feb. 27
The Vineyard Theatre and Queens Theatre in the Park's New York premiere co-production of History of the Word, Ben Snyder's spoken word poetry play about the urban high school experience, begins Feb. 27 at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan.

Stage and screen actor Joe Morton directs the show, which runs until March 3 at Washington Irving and March 7-10 at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center in Queens.

The cast includes Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lauren Birriel, David Deblinger, Britton Jones and Cedric Sanders.

History of the Word "follows four students over a single day in an urban high school as they struggle with identity, and through writing and expressing themselves, move toward empowerment and acceptance," according to press notes. The play draws on the words of historical figures such as Martin Luther King, Jr.; Mahatma Gandhi; Walt Whitman; Sojourner Truth; Muhammad Ali; and William Shakespeare, and spoken word poetry by New York City high school students."

History of the Word is presented in tandem with poetry workshops in city high schools. Some of the students' own poetry will be incorporated into the script during performances they attend.

History of the Word is co-conceived by Orin Wolf and Rajendra Ramoon Maharaj and features original poetry by Felice Belle and additional poetry by the spoken word artists Akil Dasan, Marisa Vural, Kayo Charles and Yolanda Kae Wilkinson. Maya Workman is the choreographer. Ali Turns design the costumes, which are donated by the music and fashion mogul Russell Simmons, from his Phat Farm Collection. The rest of the design team includes Neil Patel (sets), Josh Bradford (lights) and Brett Jarvis (sound).

Morton appeared at the Vineyard Theatre in Brutal Imagination in 2003. His other stage credits include the Broadway productions of Art, Raisin (Tony nomination) and Two Gentlemen of Verona and the National Theatre's production of Stuff Happens. His film credits include "The Brother From Another Planet," "Speed," "Paycheck," "Ali," "Terminator 2: Judgment Day," "Malcolm X" and "The Night Listener."

Snyder's work has been produced by New York Stage and Film, LAByrinth Theater Company and P.S. 122, among other companies.

The show was previously seen in October 2004 at Crossroads Theatre Co. in New Jersey.

Tickets are available to both students and the general public for all performances. For reservations call (718) 482-5151 or visit Washington Irving High School is located at 40 Irving Place at East 17th Street in Manhattan. LaGuardia Performing Arts Center is part of LaGuardia Community College and is at 31-10 Thompson Avenue in Long Island City, Queens.

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