Underground Railway Theater presents the recent Broadway hit and the 2010 Oliver Award Winner for Best New Play, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall. The Mountaintop is presented in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation. Underground Railway Theater's Associate Artistic Director, Megan Sandberg-Zakian, directs The Mountaintop. The press performance for The Mountaintop is Monday, January 14 at 7:30PM.
April 3, 1968. Having just delivered his magnificent oration "I've Been to the Mountaintop," at Mason Temple in support of a sanitation workers' strike, Reverend DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis. A maid comes to his door with coffee. An unlikely relationship is forged that ventures into the political and personal, compelling him to confront his destiny and the fate of the nation on the eve of one of the most critical moments in American History. The Mountaintop was the recipient of the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play.
Speaking of the historical and cultural significance of the Emancipation Proclamation, the great American playwright August Wilson once said: "I find it criminal that after hundreds of years of slavery in this country, we do not celebrate Emancipation Proclamation."
Underground Railway Theater's mission is to respond poetically to vital questions in the activist and collaborative spirit of our namesake. As an institution, URT has always sought ways to mark and explore critical moments in contemporary culture and history. With this in mind, Katori Hall's The Mountaintop is presented in celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation.
DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. also spoke of the importance of the Emancipation Proclamation in an unsuccessful attempt in 1963 to press President Kennedy into issuing a Second Emancipation Proclamation to end segregation:
"There is but one way to commemorate the Emancipation Proclamation. That is to make its declarations of freedom real; to reach back to the origins of our nation when tour message of equality electrified an unfree world, and reaffirm democracy..."
With 2013 marking the 150th Anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation, Underground Railway Theater offers The Mountaintop laying the invocation of the possibility of personal and social transformation. As artists and audiences celebrate this declaration of freedom, Underground Railway Theater strives to inspire us to lean together in shaping of shared future. As part of URT's production of The Mountaintop, there will be Central Conversations (pre-show symposia and post-performance discussions) with the theme "Passing the Baton: Celebrating and Carrying Forward the Legacy of Dr. King and the Civil Rights Movement" led by Charles Ogletree and others. The most up-to-date list of events is online at CentralSquareTheater.org.
The Mountaintop premiered in London in 2009 to great critical acclaim. After a sell-out run at Theatre503, the play transferred to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End, featuring British actors David Harewood and Lorraine Burroughs. Harewood was nominated for Best Actor in the Evening Standard and Whatsonstage Awards and Burroughs for Best Actress in the Olivier Awards. The production won the 2010 Olivier Best New Play Award. The Mountaintop premiered on Broadway in September 2011. Samuel L. Jackson made his Broadway debut in the role of DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. with Angela Bassett as his co-star.
Underground Railway Theater joins Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, The Circuit Playhouse, and Philadelphia Theatre Company, Arena Stage, and the Alley Theatre in presenting The Mountaintop during the 2012-2013 Season.
Katori Hall is a playwright/performer from Memphis, TN. Hall's plays include: The Mountaintop (2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play), which recently ran on Broadway at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre starring Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson, Hurt Village (2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize), Children of Killers, Hoodoo Love, Remembrance, Saturday Night/Sunday Morning, WHADDABLOODCLOT!!!, Our Lady of Kibeho, and Pussy Valley. Her awards include the 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. Hall is an alumna of the Lark Playwrights' Workshop, where she developed The Mountaintop, and a graduate of Columbia University, the A.R.T. at Harvard University, and the Juilliard School. She is currently a member of the Residency Five at Signature Theatre Company in New York City.