DR. Martin Luther King, Jr., the man and DR. Martin Luther King, Jr., the leader merge in Katori Hall's award-winning drama The Mountaintop, receiving its Philadelphia premiere at Philadelphia Theatre Company on January 18-February 17 at the Suzanne Roberts Theatre (Broad and Lombard Streets). Directed by Patricia McGregor, the two-person cast features Sekou Laidlow and Amirah Vann.
Previews begin Friday, January 18 with Opening Night on Wednesday, January 23. Performances run Tuesday through Sunday until February 17. Tickets starting at $46 are available by calling the PTC Box Office at 215-985-0420 or visiting PhiladelphiaTheatreCompany.org. Philadelphia Theatre Company's Suzanne Roberts Theatre is located at Broad and Lombard Streets.
Set in Memphis on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop imagines the events that might have taken place the night before the assassination of Civil Rights leader DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering his magnificent "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech, an exhausted and defeated Dr. King retires to Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel where he encounters a mysterious and spirited stranger as an epic storm rages outside.
The Mountaintop received its world premiere in London at Theatre 503 before transferring to Trafalgar Studios in the West End, winning the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play. It then premiered on Broadway in 2011, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett.
"We are so proud to be giving Katori Hall her Philadelphia premiere. Although she paints a respectful and vulnerable portrait of Dr. King at a crossroads in his life, her voice is an imaginative and audacious one and her sense of theatricality is thrilling and unexpected," said PTC's Producing Artistic Director Sara Garonzik. "Producing The Mountaintop in a year that commemorates the 50thAnniversary of the iconic "I Have A Dream" speech is the most fulfilling way a theater can celebrate Dr. King's legacy and we are honored to be doing so through the vision of this rising playwright and her equally talented director and collaborator, Patricia McGregor."
According to playwright Katori Hall, "King changed the world, but he was not a deity. He was a man, a human being. So it was important to show him as such: vulnerable."
She continued: "When my mother was 15 years old, Dr. King came to speak at Mason Temple in Memphis, and she wanted to go and see him. She lived around the corner of the Lorraine Hotel and had seen King speak before. But this time, her mother told her no because she had heard through the grapevine that someone was going to bomb the church. So this play comes out of my mother's missed opportunity."
Katori Hall (Playwright), the winner of the Olivier Award for The Mountaintop, is the author of Hurt Village, which received its world premiere at Off-Broadway's Signature Theatre and won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize; Children of Killers (National Theatre, London); Hoodoo Love Cherry Lane Theatre); Remembrance (Women's Project); Saturday Night/Sunday Morning;WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!; The Hope Well; Our Lady of Kibeho; and Pussy Valley. Her numerous awards and fellowships include the 2009-10 Lark Play Development Center Playwrights of New York (PONY) Fellowship, the Arena Stage American Voices New Play Residency, the Kate NeAl Kinley Fellowship, two Lecomte du Nouy Prizes from Lincoln Center, the Fellowship of Southern Writers Bryan Family Award in Drama, a NYFA Fellowship, the Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting Award and the Otis Guernsey New Voices Playwriting Award (William Inge Theatre Festival). Hall is a graduate of Columbia University, The American Repertory Theatre Institute for Advanced Theatre Training at Harvard University, and the Juilliard School's Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program.