The African Company Presents Richard III
Oak Park Festival Theatre
157 Forest Avenue Oak Park
In 1821, forty years before Lincoln ended slavery, and fifty years before African Americans earned the right to vote, the first black theatrical group in the country, the African Company of New York, is staging plays in a downtown Manhattan theater for both black and white audiences. Their competition is an uptown Broadway impresario who happens to be producing Richard III at the same time as the African Company. The latter's production is critically acclaimed, and has the theater filled to overflowing six days a week. But the prominent white producer is determined to shut down the African company's show at any cost. This is is a behind-the-scenes story like no other -- funny, uncompromising and uniquely American, it's an actual historical event that continues to resonate today. See it at the Oak Park Festival Theatre in Austin Gardens.
Thru - Sep 1, 2018
Show Type: Drama
Box Office: 708-445-4440
Running Time: 2hrs, 15mins
The African Company Presents Richard III Reviews
- Highly Recommended
- Somewhat Recommended
- Not Recommended
Chicago Tribune - Recommended
"...Matty Robinson's William Henry Brown negotiates the line between hearty promoter and sardonic observer of the white audiences of whom he says "They silly people, and they love novelty." Yet he ultimately finds a way to break away from the words and stories of white people. Brown is credited with writing "The Drama of King Shotaway," a historical piece based on the Black Carib war of 1796 in St. Vincent against white settlers. That play - the first written by an African-American - has been lost to history. But the struggle of the African Company lives on in Carlyle Brown's play. The drama isn't perfect, but Parson's cast digs out enough gemlike moments to make it worthwhile."
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Chicago Reader - Highly Recommended
"...An appreciation for Shakespeare is widely considered the mark of a "cultured" person, yet culture is often bred in exclusivity. Who owns Shakespeare? Can neophytes without training or perfect diction deserve acclaim? Director Ron OJ Parson expertly highlights Brown's examination of respectability politics and code-switching and draws a direct line from slavery to its racist legacy today in the form of grammar shamers and "Permit Pattys.""
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