In a statement artistic director Michael Kahn said, "I am incredibly saddened to say that Avery Brooks has suffered an injury and is currently unable to perform in his role as Tamburlaine. Under normal understudy procedure, these performances would not have been canceled. However, Avery Brooks' original understudy - who also was playing the roles of Lancaster, Orcanes and Ortygius - recently left the production because of a family emergency. The new understudy, Bill Christ, who also learned and assumed those roles, has not yet had the time to sufficiently prepare for the tremendously large role of Tamburlaine.
"We feel deeply for our audiences who were looking forward to seeing Avery in the role. We are encouraging patrons to switch into later Tamburlaine performances, or into another of the season's plays."
Actor Brooks added, "I am devastated. I have never intentionally missed or tried to miss a performance. My work is my life. I am especially devastated for my fellow company members; we have invested so much in each other and the work on Tamburlaine. Michael Kahn and the Shakespeare Theatre Company have been extraordinarily generous to me, and I would not ever betray this love. I will do everything in my power to return and finish this wonderful work as soon as is physically/humanly possible. I offer my humble apology to all and especially to the audience, whose loyalty and support I could never live without."
The canceled performances include Dec. 20 and 21 at 8 PM, Dec. 22 at 2 PM and Dec. 23 at 7 PM. On Dec. 21 the company will reassess Brooks' ability to perform and will announce whether the remainder of performances will resume as scheduled with Brooks or with his new understudy, Christ.
Tamburlaine and Edward II are currently running in repertory at the Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall through Jan. 6, 2008. Edward II performances will continue as scheduled. Those wishing to exchange tickets for a later Tamburlaine performance or for another play in the company's season should call (202) 547-1122.
The Shakespeare Theatre Company's Sidney Harman Hall is located at 610 F Street NW in Washington, DC.