Isaiah Washington in Chicago Premiere of Unspeakable
Jul 26, 2012
This fall, Chicagoans will get the chance to experience the New York International Fringe Festival hit production, Unspeakable, a dramatic fantasia inspired by the life of comedic icon Richard Pryor, on the Royal George Theatre Main Stage, 1641 N. Halsted, in a limited eight-week engagement beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2012. The official opening night performance is Monday, October 8, at 7:30 p.m. Unspeakable is presented by Executive Producer Susan Batson (Broadway revival of Raisin in the Sun), Creative Mind Entertainment, OBC DreamTheatre, and in association with Kenneth Schapiro/ Enlightenment Productions.
Unspeakable is an unflinching look at the life and times of an iconic comedic genius. Covering a span of sixty one years, and focused on the period between 1967 and 1982, audience members travel through the emotional landscape that is Richard Pryor. Growing up in a Peoria brothel, where his mother toiled as a prostitute that his grandmother owned and operated, Pryor faced situations that forever shaped and scarred his sensitive soul. Coping with the reality of being born to a prostitute, 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.
The cast of seven - many taking on multiple roles - features television and film star Isaiah Washington making his Chicago stage debut in the role of "Moody," and James Murray Jackson, Jr. as "Richard Pryor," a role he originated at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival that earned him a New York Times rave for his "magnetic lead performance." Additional casting will be announced shortly.
Unspeakable is directed by Rod Gailes OBC, based on a script by Gailes and Jackson, Jr. Given the strong language and adult situations inherent in this story, this production is recommended for theatergoers 16 years of age and older.
"Richard Pryor broke down barriers and stereotypes once thought unimaginable, said the unspeakable and did the unthinkable. He taught us by holding a mirror to the conscience of America, while self-destructing, and imploding on his own pain and grief. Though flawed in life, he lived uninhibited onstage. He was part preacher, social commentator, political activist, addict and a whole lot of devil. Richard ushered in a groundbreaking style which paved the way for a generation of comedians. He was able to convert his painful personal experiences and searing political observations into mainstream comedy," said Gailes.
Whether in his professional life as an actor and producer or his personal role as a husband, father and activist, Isaiah Washington passionately commits himself to all ventures. As an actor, critics have lauded Isaiah's ability to effortlessly disappear into each role. Winner of two NAACP Image Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, Washington most recently appeared in Jeymes Samuel's They Die By Dawn starring Michael Kenneth Williams, Harry Lennix, Erykah Badu, Jesse Williams, and Rosario Dawson; and he will produce and star in the upcoming films The Undershepherd and Blue Caprice in theaters this Fall and Summer 2013, respectively. Washington has also produced and starred in Tony Abulu's film Dr. Bello; recently co-starred with Kate Beckinsale and Nick Nolte in The Trials of Cate McCall, also due out in 2013; and co-starred in John Sayles Go For Sisters starring LisGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Edward James Olmos and Hector Elizondo. He is currently producing five other films: Africans vs African Americans, Precipice, Live Or Die, One Last Pimp Out/Waiting for Nick, and God Gave Us Tomorrow.. Washington also completed his first memoir, A Man From Another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life, (Hachette/Centre Street Publishing) and is now producing the Audiobook version for iTunes.
For his portrayal of Richard Pryor in the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival production of Unspeakable, James Jackson, Jr. received the Festival's Outstanding Lead Actor Award. The New York-based actor/writer/producer found mentors early on in acting gurus Nathan George and Susan Batson, who etched into his mind the responsibility the artist has to himself as well as to his community. Jackson, Jr. has worked in theaters throughout New York City and the Tri-State area, with credits including: The Awakening/Ohm Theatre Group, of which he was a founding member; Port Authority Throw Down/ Working Theatre; Risk/The Looking Glass Forum; White Baby/Passage Theatre; and Unspeakable/SoHo Playhouse. In2009, Jackson, Jr. and his wife Lisa created Creative Mind Entertainment, an entertainment production company that is currently in various stages of production and active development of numerous projects in virtually every entertainment medium including stage productions of Rooftops, Little Fish, Johnny Coconuts: The Saga of a Wanna be Porn Star!! and Follow me to Nellie's, and film projects including Pharoah Jones and Private Joy. James is also a graduate of the Commercial Theater Institute's Broadway producer program.
Rod Gailes OBC is a Detroit native, University of Michigan graduate, and an alumnus of the prestigious NYU Graduate Film Program. There he studied under noted filmmakers, Raoul Peck and Nancy Savoca, and directed the award-winning classic, Twin Cousins, a Regional Student Academy Award™ Finalist, winner of the HBO Short Film Competition, and best short film in New York's Urbanworld Film Festival before winning the Ft. Lauderdale Film Festival and being featured at the Kodak Emerging Filmmaker Showcase in Cannes. After working with director Spike Lee, Gailes OBC, a versatile writer, director and producer, moved on to groundbreaking work in New York's theatre community with I AM Because We ARE; Revolution, Romance, & War; Thin Black Line; his original musical, COLORS: Dream Of the MASTA; and his original play, 18 Eve, commissioned by Harlem's Boys & Girl's Harbor. His work as a director and developer of new work continued in 2012 when Gailes OBC 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.
The production team for the Chicago Premiere of Unspeakable on the Royal George Theatre Main Stage includes: Stuart Howard (Casting), Felix E. Cochren (Scenic Design & Costume Design), Cookie Jordan (Wig & Makeup Design) Production Manager Matt Marsden (Production management) Joshua Horvath (Sound Design), Jorge Arroyo (Lighting Design), Amy Hall Garner (Choreography), Lucia Lombardi (Stage Management), Jill K. Swartzmiller (Company Management), and Karen Berry (General Management).
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