Huntington Theatre Company will hold a by-invitation-only Breaking Ground developmental reading of (Shoe) Shine Safari by Huntington Playwriting Fellow John Oluwole ADEkoje (Cry Baby Jones) on Tuesday, December 11 at 7:30pm at the Huntington's Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. Niegel Smith (Neighbors at The Public Theater) directs a cast that includes: Stephen Tyrone Williams as Shoe Shine; Johnny Lee Davenport (Vengeance is the Lord's and the upcoming Invisible Man at the Huntington) as Driver/Father; Robert D. Murphy as Lincoln Douglas; Joniece Abbott-Pratt (Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the Huntington) as Amina; Reg Cathey as General Butt Naked/Big House/Rebel 1; James Milford as Rebel 2; and others.
Ex-child soldier Shoe Shine wants to escape the violent chaos of his homeland for the comforts of America. But before he can leave, he must face the schemes of imperialist superheroes and naked generals, not to mention the dreams of his scattered family. As the radio remixes news of atrocities with hit singles, (Shoe) Shine Safari pieces together a future from the wreckage of conflict and exploitation.
John Oluwole ADEkoje's (playwright) short play Cry Baby Jones was part of GRIMM (Company One) and was nominated for an Independent Reviewers of New England (IRNE) Award for Best New Play. He was also nominated for two IRNEs for his play Love Jones. Mr. ADEkoje is a National Award winner of the Kennedy Center ACTF - Lorraine Hansberry Playwriting award for his play Street Hawker, as well as the winner of the National Triennial New Play Competition. He was commissioned to write a new play by the Boston Black Theater Collective. He is a recipient of the Brother Thomas Fellowship for this documentary film, Street Soldiers, for which he won the Emerging Filmmakers Award by the Roxbury International Film Festival. Street Soldiers has been shown at the Pan African Film Festival at Cannes, France, and the World Film Festival in Montreal, Canada. He is currently editing his feature film, Knockaround Kids. Mr. Adekoje is a proud recipient of the Surdna Arts Teachers Fellowship. He is currently a Playwright in Residence at Company One and UMass Boston and a faculty member in the theatre department at Boston Arts Academy where he teaches playwriting, filmmaking, and directing.
Niegel Smith (director) is a performance artist and theater director who sculpts social spaces into unique communal environments where we make new rituals, excavate our pasts, and imagine future narratives. His works have been produced by Elastic City and his theater by The Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem, HERE Arts Center, Hip Hop Theatre Festival, Summer Play Festival, New York Fringe Festival, and The Phoenix Theatre Ensemble. With Todd Shalom, Mr. Smith has co-conceived and staged various mass performances in public settings. He is a graduate of Dartmouth College, the associate director of the Tony Award winning musical FELA!, and has received grants and fellowships from Theater Communications Group, the Van Lier Fund, and the Tucker Foundation.
The Huntington Theatre Company's Breaking Ground reading series is a vital part of its commitment to championing local and national playwrights and developing new work for the American theatre. Past Breaking Ground plays that have subsequently been produced at the Huntington and/or at theatres across the country and internationally include The Luck of the Irish by Kirsten Greenidge, Mauritius by Theresa Rebeck, The Atheist by Ronan Noone, Voyeurs de Venus by Lydia R. Diamond, Deported/a dream play by Joyce Van Dyke, Before I Leave You by Rosanna Yamagiwa Alfaro, and Making up the Truth by Jack Hitt. Visit huntingtontheatre.org/breakingground for information about upcoming readings.