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Summit Artspace Presents Eugene O’Neill’s The Emperor Jones

UPublish story by Sandy Kreisman

(Akron, OH)- Summit Artspace is pleased to present a culturally significant play by Eugene O’Neill The Emperor Jones this February in celebration of Black History Month. The play will be presented Friday February 8 and 15 and Saturday February 9 and 16 at 8 pm and Sunday February 10 and 17 at 2 pm on the second floor event space of Summit Arts Space located at 140 E. Market St., Akron, OH 44303. Parking is available and the building is accessible.

Tickets are $10 general admission and $7 for students and are available the night of the show at the box office at the Summit Arts Space. Tickets can be reserved by contacting Summit Artspace by phone or email. For more information, please call (330) 376-8480 or visit our websites at www.akronareaarts.org and www.treviel.wordpress.com or email skreisman@akronareaarts.org. This production contains adult-content and is not suitable for children under the age of 16.

The Emperor Jones made history by being the first play to place Charles Gilpin, a black actor onstage on Broadway in the 1920’s and had a successful run of over 200 shows. It is the tale of Brutus Jones, an African American who kills a man and is imprisoned, then escapes to a Caribbean island where he assumes the role of Emperor. The play is a heady mix of realism and expressionism and recounts his journey to the throne as he flees from his rebellious subjects.

Originally premiered with The Providence Players in New York City, the play was an overnight success for young playwright Eugene O’Neill, launching his career and drew record crowds and interest for the New York theatre-going public. Over the ensuing years, this play has been reinterpreted many times, initially as a film in 1933 featuring Paul Robeson and in the same year performed by The Metropolitan Opera as an opera. In contemporary times the play was performed by The Wooster Group (2007), the Irish Repertory Theatre (2009) and Jose Limon Dance Company in 2010. The contents and ideas in the play have been compared to Peer Gynt and have been controversial for its racist themes in modern times as discussed by academics. However, at the time of its premiere, it was lauded for its firsts in the theatre world. The play continues to be discussed for its significant contribution to theatre history.

This is an exciting new addition to work being presented by emerging and new artists in all disciplines at Summit Artspace, the home of the Akron Area Arts Alliance and will expand the venues for local Akron theatre. It builds on other new work in the visual arts, - the recent installation by local artist, Joe Bartram presented at First Night entitled, Everybody Knows it’s Everywhere. This piece has been installed on the third floor and will be on view until February 2nd in conjunction with the Akron ArtWalk.

The group of performers is a competent mix of University of Akron alumni and existing students who wanted to present challenging theatre to the public. The play is directed by Lois Elswick, a graduate student at the University of Akron and stars Treviel Cody as the Emperor as well as Keith Scott as Smithers. Other cast members include: Navarre Medlock, Emmanual Anim Koranteng and Thurayya UmbayeMake. Jacob Gatti is responsible for the lighting design and Richard Reed is the sound technician.


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