• Photos: 2017 Summit welcomes dozens for opening rehearsal

    by John Moore | Feb 14, 2017
    Colorado New Play Summit opening-day photo gallery:

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit
    To see more photos, click the forward arrow on the image above. All photos may be downloaded simply free by clicking on them. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.


    The DCPA Theatre Company today welcomed dozens of actors, playwrights, directors and crew for the first day of rehearsal for the 2017 Colorado New Play Summit. The 12th annual festival will feature readings of new works by Donnetta Lavinia Grays, Rogelio Martinez, Eric Pfeffinger, Robert Schenkkan and Lauren Yee.

    The Colorado New Play Summit presents readings of new plays over two weeks as the playwrights continue to craft their developing works alongside a full, professional creative team. Audiences also are offered the opportunity to see two fully staged world premiere productions that emerged from the previous year's Summit: The Book of Will by Lauren Gunderson and Two Degrees by Tira Palmquist. In addition, the DCPA Theatre Company is presenting the regional premiere of Lucas Hnath's The Christians. Most of the Summit actors are also appearing in one of those three mainstage plays.

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit "I always feel blessed at this time of year when we get to tell new stories that provide windows on the world," said DCPA Artistic Director Kent Thompson. "Our audiences can see how these playwrights and these artists are responding to the world around them today."

    (Pictured right: Olivia Sullivent in rehearsal for 'Last Night and the Night Before.' Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Tuesday's launch was bittersweet given that the 2017 Summit will be Thompson's last. Thompson, who founded the Summit upon his arrival in Denver in 2006, has announced his resignation effective March 3. 

    "We have workshopped 50 plays at the Summit," Thompson said. "We have had 44 playwrights, including 20 female playwrights. We have had 27 world premieres that began at the Summit, and we have launched two major musicals (The Unsinkable Molly Brown and Sense and Sensibility the Musical)."

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit. Kent ThompsonThree years ago, Thompson (pictured at right) expanded the Summit by a week so that once playwrights get their work in front of an audience, they can take feedback and come back for another round of rehearsals and readings.

    "These two weeks are really about the playwright," Thompson said. 

    The five 2017 Summit readings will take audiences from an American suburb to Brooklyn to China to Nazi Germany to the first meeting between Reagan and Gorbechev.

    New DCPA Associate Artistic Director Nataki Garrett said this is an important time in history for playwrights. "It's the playwright's responsibility to always have their ear not only to the present, but also to the future," she said. "What I am most most excited about the plays we are about to unpack at the Summit is that these playwrights have one foot in the present and one foot in the future. We will get to the other side."

    Here is a look at each featured Summit play, with an introduction from each of the playwrights:

    Last Night and the Night Before
    By Donnetta Lavinia Grays
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Donetta GraysWhen Monique and her 10-year-old daughter Samantha show up unexpectedly on her sister’s Brooklyn doorstep, it’s the beginning of the end for Rachel and her partner Nadima’s orderly New York lifestyle. Monique is on the run from deep trouble, and her husband is nowhere to be seen. The family’s deep Southern roots have a long reach, and they grab hold of Rachel’s life stronger than she could have ever imagined.

    Says Grays: "It's fitting that today is Valentine's Day because I think this play is squarely about the power and dynamic of love. There are questions around motherhood, what defines motherhood, what defines being a woman, what makes a family, and what loss is as well."

    Directed by Valerie Curtis-Newton
    Dramaturgy by Lauren Whitehead
    Sam: Olivia Sullivent
    Monique: Brynn Tucker
    Reggie: Cajardo Lindsay
    Rachel: Jasmine Hughes
    Nadima: Valeka Holt
    Stage Directions: Tresha Farris   

    Blind Date
    By Rogelio Martinez

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Rogelio MartinezThis play centers on odd-couple Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev's first meeting in Geneva in an attempt to  open up channels between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Though members of their cabinets try to keep them on track, the leaders steer the conversation to pop culture and films. While the men chip away at the mistrust between their countries, Nancy Reagan and Raisa Gorbachev play out a passive-aggressive tango that mirrors their husbands’ negotiations. This play is the conclusion to Martinez’s Cold War trilogy. Martinez previously wrote the DCPA Theatre Company's world premiere of When Tang Met Laika.

    Says Martinez: "At some point in their lives, both of these men took a huge pivot. They they were from completely different philosophies and had different ideas. But for a small moment in time they became idealists and they believed in something that no one else believed in. Ultimately the play is about trust: Can one person trust the other across the negotiating table?

    Directed by Giovanna Sardelli
    Dramaturgy by Douglas Langworthy
    George Shultz: Liam Craig                                                                                   
    Eduard Shevardnadze: Steve Brady
    Mikhail Gorbachev: Triney Sandavol
    Ronald Reagan: Victor Slezak
    Edmund Morris: Kurt Rhoads
    Raisa Gorbachev: Kathleen McCall
    Nancy Reagan: Nance Williamson
    Peter, Politburo Member, Dimitri Zarechnak: Rodney Lizcano
    Stage Directions: Mehry Eslaminia                            

    Human Error
    By Eric Pfeffinger

    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Eric PfeffingerMadelyn and Keenan are NPR-listening, latte-sipping, blue-state liberals, while Heather and Jim are NRA-cardholding, truck-driving, red-state conservatives. After an unfortunate mix-up by their blundering fertility doctor, Heather is mistakenly impregnated with the wrong child. Now the two couples face sharing a nine-month’s odyssey of culture shock, clashing values, changing attitudes and unlikely friendships.

    Says Pfeffinger: "One couple's fertilized embryo has been mistakenly implanted in a stranger so, obviously, it's a comedy: One of those classic 'switched embryo' farces. What ensues is the two couples trying to come to understand a kind of people they have never had any interest in knowing before."

    Directed by Jane Page
    Dramaturgy by Amy Jensen
    Madelyn: Caitlin Wise
    Keenan: Robert Manning Jr.
    Jim: John DiAntonio
    Heather: Jennifer Le Blanc
    Dr. Hoskins: Wesley Mann
    Stage Directions: Drew Horwitz               

    Hanussen

    By Robert Schenkkan

    A DCPA Theatre Company commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Robert SchenkkanIn 1930s Berlin, the brilliant mentalist Erik Jan Hanussen captivates German audiences with his ability to read minds and his uncanny predictions of the future. His reputation brings him to the attention of avid occultist Adolph Hitler. While his star seems to be on the rise, the consequences of his next major prediction (and his own true identity) may break his spell. Based on true events. Schenkkan is a Tony Award and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (All the Way, The 12).

    Says Schenkkan: "The Weimar Republic seems like a good place to be visiting right now. It is said that Hanussen helped coach Hitler to improve his public speaking. That he cast Hitler's horoscope. And that he may or may not have had some part in the Black Flag Operation known as The Reichstag fire. Hanussen was Jewish. This is a play about denial and avoidance and individual responsibility."

    Directed by Kent Thompson
    Dramaturgy by Liz Engelman
    Hanussen: Jamison Jones
    Hitler: Richard Thieriot
    Wolfe: Kevin Kilner
    Ernerst Juhn, Bruno Frei and Stage Manager: Andy Nagraj
    Fred Marion, Joseph Goebbles, Young Man and Manager: Robert Montano
    Fritzi, Katrina and Maria Paudler: Sarah Schenkkan
    Servant, Rudolf Steinle and Nobleman: Leigh Miller
    Businessman and Kurt Egger: Jason Delane
    Stage Directions: Luke Sorge

    Manford From Half Court, or The Great Leap
    By Lauren Yee

    DCPA Theatre Company Commission
    2017 Colorado New Play Summit Lauren YeeWhen an American college basketball team travels to Beijing for a “friendship” game in the post-Cultural Revolution 1980s, both countries try to tease out the politics behind this newly popular sport. Cultures clash as the Chinese coach tries to pick up moves from the Americans and a Chinese-American player named Manford spies on his opponents.

    Says Yee: "What you need to know about The Great Leap is that my father is 6-foot-1. He grew up in San Francisco Chinatown, and before he had kids, the only thing he was good at was basketball. He was never going to the NBA, but he was good enough that even today in San Francisco, people stop us on the street and say, 'I used to play you in basketball.' And as they walk away, my dad is always like, 'Yeah ... and I kicked his ass.' In the 1980s, my father and his Chinese-American teammates went to China to play a series of exhibition games throughout the country. And he got completely demolished in almost every single game. Apparently in Beijing, they played against all these 7-foot-6, 300-pound gods - and remember, my dad was 6-foot-1. And he was the tallest guy on his team. 'We did not even know when they had the ball,' he said."

    Directed by Josh Brody
    Dramaturgy by Kristen Leahey
    Manford: Kevin Lin
    Saul: Brian Keane
    Wen Chang: Francis Jue
    Connie: Jo Mei
    Stage Directions: Samantha Long

    The 12th Annual Colorado New Play Summit
    Launch Weekend: Feb. 18-19
    Festival Weekend: Feb. 24-26
    More details: denvercenter.org/summit

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

  • 'Two Degrees': Five things we learned at first rehearsal

    by John Moore | Jan 06, 2017
    'Two Degrees' in Denver
    Photos from the first rehearsal of Tira Palmquist's play 'Two Degrees' by the DCPA Theatre Company. To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Click again to download. All photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

    When Director Christy Montour-Larson went looking for the key to unlock Tira Palmquist’s new play Two Degrees, she looked no further than her own pocket.

    “All I had to do is pull out my own house key, because when I read this play for the first time, I felt like I was home,” said Montour-Larson, who will direct the upcoming world premiere for the DCPA Theatre Company opening Feb. 3.

    Two Degrees. Director Christy Montour-Larson and Tira Palmquist. hoto by John Moore. Two Degrees is about a woman – and a planet – in crisis. Emma is scientist who has been called to Washington to testify to a congressional committee on climate legislation. And it’s the anniversary of her husband's death.

    “I love this play because it is about something,” Montour-Larson said on the first day of rehearsal. “Climate change isn't just another issue in a world proliferating with other issues. Climate change is the one issue that, left unchecked, will swamp all other issues.”

    New calculations from Scientific American magazine indicate that if the world continues to burn fossil fuels at the current rate, the average temperature of the Earth will rise 2 degrees Celsius by 2036, crossing a threshold that will devastate human civilization, Montour-Larson said.

    “We are the first generation in the history of humanity to feel the effects of climate change,” she said, “and we are the last generation who can do anything about it.”

    And if you are a playwright, the thing you do about it is you write a play about it.

    “For me, as a playwright, the personal is political, and the political is personal,” said Palmquist, who wrote Two Degrees as opportunity to write roles for women older than 45, and also as an opportunity to talk about climate change. For her, that’s as political – and as personal – as it gets.

    “Humans aren't the first species to alter the atmosphere,” added Two Degrees Dramaturg Heather Helinsky, quoting Elizabeth Kolbert’s book Field Notes from a Catastrophe. That distinction belongs to early bacteria, which invented photosynthesis 2 two billion years ago. “But we are the first species to be in a position to understand what we are doing.”

    And that’s why, Lighting Designer Charles MacLeod said, “This is a play we have to do. And not 20 years from now - we have to do it now.”

    (Pictured above and right: 'Two Degrees' Director Christy Montour-Larson and Playwright Tira Palmquist. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter.)

    Here are five things we learned at that first rehearsal for Two Degrees, opening Feb. 3 in the Jones Theatre:

    NUMBER 1 It’s melting! That’s right. Scenic Designer Robert Mark Morgan has fashioned a series of hanging painted panels that will look like different forms of ice. But look closely, because about six of them are going to be literally made out of ice that will slowly melt throughout the performance. The idea: The world of the play is the world of our world. “Our hope is that maybe 50 percent of the audience will say afterward, ‘Hey, wasn't it really cool that part of the set melted?’ And the other 50 percent will say, 'I didn't see that,’ ” said Montour-Larson, adding to laughs: “And then you can say to that person: 'Yeah, and that's why you are part of the problem! You didn't notice!"  

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Book of Will

    NUMBER 2Credit is due. A small local collective called The Athena Project is responsible for Two Degrees coming to the attention of DCPA Producing Artistic Director Kent Thompson. Montour-Larson directed a reading of the play as part of the Athena Project’s 2015 new-play festival, then handed the script over to Thompson, who shouted out founder Angela Astle and her 3-year-old company at the first rehearsal. “Athena envisions a world where women's voices are powerfully expressed and recognized for their artistic merit in the community,” Thompson said.

    Five things we learned at first rehearsal for The Christians

    NUMBER 3Mr. Jones and you. Two Degrees will be the first play the DCPA Theatre Company presents in the Jones Theatre as a mainstage production since David Mamet’s A Boston Marriage in 2004. At 200 seats, The Jones is the Denver Center’s smallest theatre. “It's just perfect for Two Degrees because it’s so intimate, and the audience is going to be right there with us as we tell the story,” Montour-Larson said.

    More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

    NUMBER 4Two Degrees. Jason Ducat The sound of ice. Sound Designer Jason Ducat (right) promises to replicate the sound of real, cracking ice at key points of the story. He and fellow DCPA soundman Craig Breitenbach embedded microphones into real ice and then recorded the sound as it broke up. “We're going to have speakers underneath the seats so the audience will really be able to feel that rumble,” said Ducat, who grew up in Bowling Green, Ohio, hometown of Olympic figure-skating champion Scott Hamilton. “For about 15 years of my life, I pretty much lived on a sheet of ice. It is one of the most peaceful things you can ever experience," Ducat said. But the sound ice cracking also can be terrifying. I know this because when I was young, I was really stupid and I would see how far out on the ice I could get before it started to crack - and then I would have to fly back in to try to beat it. But when I think of the character of Emma, I think she really wants to be on that ice. So I wanted to create that as the soundscape of the play."

    NUMBER 5Do I know you? Montour-Larson met Palmquist at the 2012 Seven Devils Playwrights Conference in McCall, Idaho. They got to talking and soon learned they both grew up in Minnesota. Then they figured out that they both had performed in a summer repertory theatre program in Duluth, Minn., decades before. So Montour-Larson asked Palmquist what shows she was in, and Palmquist answered, “Oh a few, like, Dames at Sea and Play it Again Sam.” And Montour-Larson dead-panned: "I was in all those shows with you." Everyone talks about six degrees of separation, but in Palmquist’s play every character has, appropriately enough, just two degrees of separation. “And here we discovered that Tira and I had two degrees of separation, because we already knew each other through our younger selves,” said Montour-Larson.

    Bonus: There will be some Greenlandic spoken during the play. That is all.

     

    John Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist.


    Video bonus: Spotlight on Two Degrees



    Two Degrees
    : Cast list

    Written by Tira Palmquist
    Directed by Christy Montour-Larson

    • Jason Delane (One Night in Miami) as Clay Simpson

    • Kathleen McCall (The Glass Menagerie) as Emma Phelps

    • Robert Montano (Colorado New Play Summit) as Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson

    • Kim Staunton (Fences) as Louise Allen


    Two Degrees: Ticket information
    Two DegreesEmma, a climate change scientist, is invited to share her findings at a Senate hearing that could define her career and her cause. But if she can’t overcome her tumultuous inner struggle, her dedication and sacrifices may not be enough. Two Degrees was developed at the 2016 Colorado New Play Summit.

    Feb. 3-March 12
    Jones Theatre
    ASL and Audio-Described matinee at 1:30 p.m. Sunday, March 5
    303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    Two Degrees. Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore.
    First rehearsal for the upcoming 'Two Degrees': Kathleen McCall and Robert Montano. Photo by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. 

  • Video: Colorado New Play Summit Spotlight: Tira Palmquist, 'Two Degrees'

    by John Moore | Feb 19, 2016


    Our interview, in video and words, with Colorado New Play Summit featured playwright Tira Palmquist, author of Two Degrees. Palmquist describes her play as "a cheery story about climate change."


    Here are highlights from DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore's conversation with  'Two Degrees' playwright Tira Palmquist:

    John Moore: Do you remember your first encounter with the Denver Center?

    Tira Palmquist: Yes, my first encounter was as a spouse. My husband came here to coach dialect, voice, speech and text for the Theatre Company’s production of Richard III in 2009.

    John Moore: Tell us who your director is here at the Summit.

    Tira Palmquist: My director is Christy Montour-Larson (Curious Theatre's 'Sex With Strangers.') It turns out we did summer rep theatre together in Duluth (Minn.) when we were in college back in 1981 and ’82.

    Two Degrees Michelle Shupe Summit John Moore: Can you introduce us to the world of your play, Two Degrees?

    Tira Palmquist: I would say Two Degrees is a play about climate change, but it’s also a play about grief. That was really the entrance point for me to tell the story, because I feel the grief for the planet so palpably that it became the predominant metaphor of the play. Two Degrees is about a woman who’s doing her best to help people understand why climate change is an important issue. And at the same time, she’s coming to terms with her own personal grief. (Pictured: Michelle Shupe as Emma in 'Two Degrees.' Photo by John Moore.) 

    John Moore: Tell us about your protagonist.

    Tira Palmquist: The writing of the play really began with a challenge from an actor friend of mine who had just turned 45. We were having beers on her porch when she said, ‘You know what sucks is being 45 and being at the height of my abilities, and having all the opportunities dry up. So what for your next play, you need to write a part for a woman over 45.’ And I said, ‘OK. I will do that, Stacy.’ And then it really churned in my head for a long time because I thought, ‘Well, I know I don’t want to write a play about a woman who’s had a divorce, or an empty-nester or a woman going through menopause, because I feel like that’s low-hanging fruit. So what am I going to write about?

    John Moore: So you wrote about a scientist.

    Tira Palmquist: I really like science. I think science is important. It's an important issue for me because we see science being dismissed to a certain degree in this country. There’s a kind of anti-science sentiment running in our country. And I’m trying to do my best to put science on stage, because science is going to save us.

    Two Degrees Tira Palmquist quote Summit

    John Moore: And you’re a pastor’s kid?

    Tira Palmquist: Yes, but science and religion were never in conflict in my family. My father was never anti-science. He was always a curious individual. I remember having a conversation with him when The Last Temptation of Christ came out about whether Christ could have been married. And he said, ‘Of course Christ would have been married. They called him Rabbi - and a Rabbi had to be married.’ And he was never upset about that. It didn’t diminish the story of what Christ. And I just remember thinking, ‘Wow, I just learned something about my father that I didn’t know before.’

    John Moore: Has being a pastor’s kid affected your voice as a playwright?

    Tira Palmquist: Oh, absolutely. I sat in church week after week listening to my father telling stories in the form of a sermon. But I feel like my life as a playwright has been about finding my own voice. All your life as a pastor’s kid, you’re trying your hardest not to be the pastor’s kid - to set yourself apart from the expectations people have of you. And I think to a certain degree that fuels my passion for telling stories, But at the same time, being a pastor’s kid means you spend a lot of time watching your father or mother attending to a congregation. It’s not just ‘theatre.’ It’s about your relationships with your congregation. If there’s anything I learned from that, it’s that your stories on stage need to have that kind of impact. If you’re not changing people’s lives; if you’re not changing people’s minds; then I don’t know why you’re doing it.

    Two Degrees. Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane. John Moore: So you have written a play that is about climate and grief and science. That sounds kind of mournful. Is it a sad play?

    Tira Palmquist: It’s actually a pretty funny play, oddly enough. There’s a lot of humor in it, and a lot of it comes not just from the fact that we are dealing with real people who have complicated and difficult and sometimes messed-up lives, but from seeing our protagonist struggle with these issues. If this were the story of a woman who can’t be a good scientist, and all we did was see her struggle, that would be kind of pathetic. But instead, this is the story of a scientist who’s actually a full, rich and complicated human being. (Pictured: Michelle Shupe and Jason Delane in 'Two Degrees.') 

    John Moore: Tell us how your play made its way to the Denver Center.

    Tira Palmquist: It got here because of Christie. I had sent my script to The Athena Project Festival in Aurora, which is helping to increase the exposure of female artists. They have a playwriting festival that focuses on female-driven stories. When Christie saw that I was coming to the Athena festival, she asked if she could direct. She loved the play, and she wanted to see it go forward. So she brought it to the Denver Center.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts about the Denver Center’s commitment to the woman’s voice?

    Tira Palmquist: I feel incredibly supported by that. And I don’t think that it’s just, ‘Oh we had to have x number of female playwrights.’ It seems to me there really is a genuine interest in telling a variety of stories here. And as I’ve been sitting in on different plays here, like FADE and the Summit reading of American Mariachi, I thought, 'Wow, this is really fantastic.' We're seeing a lot of different kinds of stories that I don’t think are always being told, and that feels very exciting and very genuine to me.

    John Moore: What are your thoughts on having the second week of development time here at the Summit?

    Tira Palmquist: The reading after the first week feels in a way like ‘proof of concept.’ Like, ‘OK, we did this first week, and we got it on its feet, and we got it in front of an audience.’ And then you get to hear how an audience responds - what lands and what doesn’t. One of the things that’s lovely about the second week is that now you have the opportunity to go through and fine-tune anything that you didn’t really get to polish, or answer questions that you didn’t really get to answer during the first week. 

    John Moore: What are people saying about Denver as a place for the development of new work for the American theatre?

    Tira Palmquist: First of all, people are jealous of me that I get to be here. And second, people are noticing that Denver is really interested not just in having a festival, but actually developing new plays. Not all festivals do both. I’ve been in a lot of festivals where it feels like the plays are sort of thrown up in front of an audience. But if you’re really interested in play development, then really taking the time to do it right and attend to the playwright’s needs, then this is the way it should be done.


    Two Degrees: Cast list

    Tira Palmquist, Playwright
    Christy Montour-Larson, Director
    Heather Helinsky, Dramaturg
    Michelle Shupe, Emma Phelps
    Jason Delane, Clay Simpson
    Lisa Bostnar, Louise Allen
    Robert Montano, Jeffrey Phelps/Eric Wilson/Malik Peterson
    Janet Noble, Stage Directions

    2016 Colorado New Play Summit: Ticket information

    Second weekend (Festival Weekend): Friday, Feb. 19, through Sunday, Feb. 21
    303-893-4100 or INFO

    Previous NewsCenter Coverage of 2016 Summit (to date):
    Summit Spotlight video: Lauren Gunderson, The Book of Will
    Summit Spotlight video: José Cruz González, American Mariachi
    Summit Spotlight Video: Tira Palmquist, Two Degrees
    Summit Spotlight Video: Mat Smart, Midwinter
    DCPA rolls out the welcome mat: It's Summit weekend
    2016 Summit playwrights introduce their featured works
    Three major Summit events to be streamed live
    Featured playwrights named for 2016 Summit
    Audio: Colorado Public Radio on the 2016 New Play Summit

  • Testimonials as 'One Night in Miami' closes today

    by John Moore | Apr 19, 2015

    'One Night in Miami' cast on opening night. Photo by John Moore.
    'One Night in Miami' cast on opening night. Photo by John Moore.


    As Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami closes its remarkable run with today's matinee performance by the DCPA Theatre Company, we thought we would compile and share some of the thoughts of cast, creatives and audience members have sent us or posted on social media. The play imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay won the heavyweight boxing championship in 1964 and immediately withdrew to a hotel room with Jim Brown, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X:

    Actor Jason Delane (Malcolm X), center, meets with students from Denver's  Contemporary Learning Academy after a recent performance of 'One Night in Miami.' Ty Jones (Classical Theatre of Harlem): Why I love theatre. No. 1: People like Jason Delane, currently starring as Malcolm X in Kemp Powers' One Night in Miami, taking the time to speak to these young men (pictured at right) who attend an alternative school in Denver for at-risk youth (Contemporary Learning Academy). These young men had never been to theatre before. No. 2: The Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Hope Grandon and Kent Thompson's team made this happen. Keep up the good work. You may have just changed the trajectory of the lives of these young men. To the cast, Director Carl Cofield, and the team at Denver Center, thank you.

    (Photo: Actor Jason Delane (Malcolm X), center, meets with students from Denver's  Contemporary Learning Academy after a recent performance of 'One Night in Miami.' )

    Miami QuoteTerri Valliere (Contemporary Learning Academy): I can’t thank everyone enough for making this happen for these kids. This is the first time any of them had ever been to a play, and they were completely mesmerized by the play, the people, and the experience. They were still talking about it today at school because the meaning behind the play touched them. Thanks for supporting the activity for kids who would have never been able to go if not for your generosity. Finally, thanks to actor Jason Delane for taking the time to talk to the children after to show them that there is so much more outside of the world they live in when they fight for change.

    Kemp Powers (playwright): Sending good wishes to the One Night in Miami... crew on their final performance at the DCPA today. Congrats to Carl Cofield, Jason Delane Lee, Nik Walker, Colby Lewis, Rocc Omari, York Walker and William Oliver Watkins for your wonderful work. And thank you to Kent Thompson for bringing the show to Denver!




    Colby Lewis QuoteColby Lewis (Cassius Clay): Feeling like Ali in this speech (above) on this truly bittersweet morning. I close one of the best shows I've ever been a part of. When Kemp Powers wrote a play about his heroes, I'm sure he didn't think about writing a masterpiece. When Carl Cofield gave me a chance to step into the role of Cassius Marcellus Clay, I don't know if he realized he'd just given me one of the biggest gifts of my life. When I met York Walker, Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Jason Delane Lee, Rocc Omari, I'm sure they didn't think they were about to change life as I viewed it. I could go on forever about the things they called Cassius Clay (soon to be Muhammad Ali). But through this amazing journey at DCPA, I found out what's most important. And that is what you call YOURSELF. This process has changed me not only as an artist, but more as a man. Everyone has doubts, fears, and insecurities. But what makes you WHO you are, are your convictions, the ideals you stand behind, the words you speak, and the courage to defend those beliefs. I am not perfect; no one is but God. But I've learned from Cassius and the others I've worked with in Denver that I can and will be great, not just as an artist but as a human being. To truly be a STUDENT AND A SERVANT of the world. Maybe even the "Greatest of All Time." I love you all, fellas BOMAYE!!!!!

    Actors conduct a student talkback after a recent matinee performance of 'One Night in Miami.' Photo courtesy Kristen Adele. Jason Delane (Malcolm X) (excerpt): This has been a very special experience. Thank you, Kemp Powers, for crafting such a powerful piece of theatre and for providing six black male actors with these awesome characters to inhabit. There are way too many people to thank here on Facebook. I've already typed and deleted one post I was about to put up because I tagged over 100 people. I am humbled by the amazing men and women of the theatre that I have met through my participation in this play both here in Denver and in Los Angeles back in 2013. I thank all friends and family members who traveled near and very far to come here to Denver to see and support our work. Carl Cofield: Thanks for entrusting Brother Malcolm to me. Role of a lifetime. Kent Thompson: Thank you for bringing us to Denver. Your theatre is a gem. Kemp: THANK YOU. Rocc Omari, Nik Walker, Colby Lewis, William Oliver Watkins, York Walker: Y'all Family. Lets kill it one more time this afternoon and then go home.

    Nik Walker (Sam Cooke): Theaters like this. Casts like this. Roles like this. Directors like this. Scripts like this. Crews like this. This is why I became an artist, in the hope that I would one day have an experience...like this. Happy closing, #‎DCPAMiami‬. Now let's blow this thing and go home.

    York Walker (Jamaal): Today we close One Night In Miami. This is a hard one to say goodbye to. Thank you to everyone at the DCPA for making this one of the best experiences I've ever had in the theatre. Kemp Powers has written an incredible play and it has been a blessing to be a part of it.

    One Night in Miami
    montage of scenes:



    Video: One Night in Miami
    production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:


    Our previous NewsCenter coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: Jasone Deland and Colby Lewis talk Miami at the Tattered Cover
    To Miami creator, 'It feels a lot like 1964 right now'
    How Miami playwright accidentally discovered The Black Justice League
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in Miami
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami 'meet the cast' videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet York Walker
    Meet William Oliver Watkins


    Photos: Them making of One Night in Miami ... in Denver:

  • Page to Stage: Jason Delane and Colby Lewis of 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Apr 14, 2015


    Brief video highlights from this month’s Page to Stage noontime conversation at the Tattered Cover Book Store with One Night in Miami cast members Jason Delane (Malcolm X) and Colby Lewis (Cassius Clay).

    Jason Delane and Colby Lewis at Page to Stage. Photo by Joohn Moore. The pair fielded a variety of questions from host John Moore, including the value of a predominantly white audience base seeing this play right here and right now.

    "If I do my job well," Lewis responded, "all of you can have a conversation about what's going on in the play that translates into the news that you watch the next morning."

    One Night in Miami
    plays only through April 19 at The Space Theatre.

    Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen and John Moore.


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:



    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    To Miami creator, 'It feels a lot like 1964 right now'
    How Miami playwright accidentally discovered The Black Justice League
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in Miami
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami 'meet the cast' videos:
    Meet Colby Lewis
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet York Walker
    Meet William Oliver Watkins
  • Photos: Opening Night of 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 28, 2015

    Kemp PowersHere's a look in photos at Friday's opening night of the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami. All photos by John Moore, who was allowed to trail actor Nik Walker (who plays Sam Cooke) backstage before the show. Also: photos from the cast party after the show, including a visit from playwright Kemp Powers (pictured at right).

    The play imagines what happened just after Cassius Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964 when Clay gathered to celebrate with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown.

    Clockwise from top left: Colby Lewis as Cassius Clay, Jason Delane as Malcolm X,  Morocco Omari as Jim Brown and Nik Walker as Sam Cooke. Photos by John Moore.


    One Night in Miami
    : Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in One Night in Miami
    Video, photos: Your first look at One Night in Miami
    Watch a montage of scenes from the play

    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins

    From left: Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Morocco Omari, York Walker, Carl Cofield, Colbty Lewis and Jason Delane on opening night of 'One Night in Miami. Photo by John Moore.

    From left: Nik Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Morocco Omari, York Walker, Carl Cofield, Colby Lewis and Jason Delane on opening night of 'One Night in Miami.' Photos by John Moore.

  • Video: Bringing four icons to the stage in 'Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015


    The actors from the DCPA Theatre Company's One Night in Miami, opening tonight  (March 27), talk about portraying four of the greatest entertainment and cultural icons of the 20th century at varying stages of their fame. Set in 1964, audiences will not necessarily meet the same men pop-culture history would have us remember.

    "What I love about what Kemp Powers has written with this play is he takes these four extraordinarily public figures and he reveals something human about each of them that we might not have known," says actor Jason Delane, who plays activist Malcolm X.

    The play imagines the meeting between Cassius Clay, football player Jim Brown, recording star Sam Cooke and Malcolm X immediately after Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in Miami. At the time, Clay was only 22. Within a year, both Cooke and Malcolm X would be dead. Jim Brown was walking way from the NFL at the height of his fame to start a movie career.

    Each man argues his vision for what it means to be black in 1964. The real-life meeting culminated in an early morning announcement from Clay that shocked the world. The play runs through April 19 in The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:




    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Watch a video montage of scenes from the play
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins

    Jason Delane and Colby Lewis in 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen. Jason Delane and Colby Lewis in 'One Night in Miami.' Photo by Jennifer M. Koskinen.
  • Video, photos: Your first look at 'One Night in Miami'

    by John Moore | Mar 27, 2015


    Here is your first look in video and photos at Kemp Powers' celebrated play, One Night in Miami, which opens tonight  (March 27) at the DCPA Theatre Company.

    The play imagines what happened just after Cassius Clay’s historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston.

    Declining a glamorous party, Clay celebrates with his friends: Activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown. Each man argues his vision for what it means to be black in 1964. The evening culminated in an early morning announcement from Clay that shocked the world. Runs through April 19 in The Space Theatre. Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE


    One Night in Miami production photos by Jennifer M. Koskinen:



    One Night in Miami cast list (in order of appearance):
    Sam Cooke: Nik Walker
    Jamal: York Walker
    Kareem: William Oliver Watkins
    Malcolm X: Jason Delane
    Cassius Clay: Colby Lewis
    Jim Brown: Morocco Omari
     
    Director: Carl Cofield
    Scenic Design: Lisa Orzolek
    Costume Design: Meghan Anderson Doyle
    Lighting Design: Charles R. MacLeod
    Sound Design: Tyler Nelson
    Dramaturg: Douglas Langworthy
    Voice and Dialect Coach: Kathryn G. Maes Ph.D
    Stage Manager: Rachel Ducat

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances run through April 19
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Mondays
    Call 303-893-4100 or BUY ONLINE

    Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
    Fourth-graders have tough questions for One Night in Miami cast
    Photos: One Night in Miami is getting ready to rumble
    Video: An inside look at the making of One Night in Miami
    Video: DCPA cast gives shout-out to Baltimore Center Stage
    Full casting announced
    Video: Interview with One Night in Miami Director Carl Cofield
    New Denver Center season includes One Night in Miami
    Go to the official show page

    One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet Morocco Omari
    Meet Nik Walker
    Meet Jason Delane
    Meet William Oliver Watkins
  • Meet the cast video series: Jason Delane

    by John Moore | Mar 19, 2015


    Jason DelaneIn this ongoing series, we briefly introduce you to the actors performing in our plays in a fun way. Episode 88: Meet Jason Delane, who is making his DCPA debut playing Malcolm X in the Theatre Company's One Night in Miami. Jason talks about his stage debut as a second-grade, Old Testament  Abednego; his admiration for fellow Chicagoan John Malkovich and the importance of arts education in the schools.

    One Night in Miami is a powerful new play that imagines what occurred the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964. Video by John Moore and David Lenk. Run time: 2 minutes.

    One Night in Miami: Ticket information
    Performances March 20 through April 19, 2015 
    Space Theatre
    Performances daily except Monday
    Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site at www.DenverCenter.Org

    More One Night in Miami cast videos:
    Meet William Oliver Watkins

    Previous 2014-15 "Meet the Cast" episodes:

    Leslie Alexander, A Christmas Carol
    Joyce Cohen, Benediction
    Amelia Marie Corrada, Benediction
    Allen Dorsey, A Christmas Carol
    Meet Adrian Egolf, Benediction
    Donna English, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Charlie Franklin, Lord of the Flies

    Patty Goble,The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Sam Gregory, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Matthew Gumley, Lord of the Flies
    Lenne Klingaman, Appoggiatura
    Darrie Lawrence
    , Appoggiatura
    Eddie Lopez, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike

    Beth Malone, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Nick Mills Appoggiatura
    Paolo Montalban, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Burke Moses, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Linda Mugleston, The Unsinkable Molly Brown
    Rob Nagle, Appoggiatura
    James Newcomb, Benediction
    Leslie O'Carroll, A Christmas Carol, Benediction
    Ben and Noah Radcliffe, Lord of the Flies
    James Michael Reilly, A Christmas Carol
    Socorro Santiago, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Lesley Shires, Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike
    Gregory Isaac Stone, Lord of the Flies
    Nance Williamson, Benediction

      Jason Delane in rehearsal for his role as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami.
      Jason Delane in rehearsal for his role as Malcolm X in One Night in Miami. Photo by John Moore.

    • Photos: 'One Night in Miami' is getting ready to rumble

      by John Moore | Feb 27, 2015
      Images from the making of 'One Night in Miami' in Denver, to date. Photos by John Moore.


      One Night in Miami has had two stagings to date – one at the Rogue Machine in Los Angeles, and the other at Baltimore CenterStage. Both enjoyed extended hit runs. The L.A. production earned four NAACP Awards, while the separate Baltimore production broke CenterStage's 52-year box-office record.

      After that first production in L.A., “I called every artistic director, producing artistic director and literary manager that I had in my Rolodex,” said Carl Cofield, the play’s L.A. director.

      Two people responded: The Artistic Directors at Baltimore CenterStage and the DCPA Theatre Company.

      “One of the greatest things that Kent Thompson said to me was, ‘I will see the play with one stipulation -- that I pay for my own ticket,’ “ Cofield said. “He put his money where his mouth is.”

      Thompson did more than that – he put One Night in Miami on the Theatre Company’s 2014-15 season. “As soon as I saw it, I immediately wanted to do it,” Thompson said. And he wanted Cofield to direct it.

      Playwright Kemp Powers’ script imagines what occurred the night boxer Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964.

      “I'm not a competitive person,” Cofield said with a grin while relaying this story to cast, crew, and supporters gathered at the public first rehearsal in Denver last week. “But with this group of extraordinary actors, and with a design team that is out of this world … I want to see if we can push some records here in Denver.”

      What fascinated Thompson when he read the script were its subject, events and themes. “It brought back a lot of memories for me, having grown up in the South,” Thompson said. “I can remember that night, and I think what Kemp has done with the play is really fascinating. I was also taken Carl's direction of the play in Los Angeles, and I know the kind of persuasive, articulate, passionate artist he's always been, so I'm delighted he's at the helm." 

      Thompson hired Cofield as an actor at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival more than a decade ago.

      “I stand here in a tremendous debt of gratitude to Kent Thompson,” Cofield said. “The big word I kept thinking about on the plane ride here to Denver was serendipity. … Serendipity in that nothing happens by accident.

      “I am a seventh-generation Floridian. I was reared in Miami. My son's name is Cassius. So if I couldn't direct this play … I couldn't direct traffic.

      Cofield added that “as a kid and as a younger artist, the DCPA was one of the places I put up on my wish board. If I could ever work at any theater, this would be it. Why? Because people in Denver have a sense of agency about their theatre. Everybody I have met feels like this is their theater as a Coloradan. That sense of agency is palpable.”

      Cast list (in order of appearance):
      Sam Cooke: Nik Walker
      Jamal: York Walker
      Kareem: William Oliver Watkins
      Malcolm X: Jason Delane
      Cassius Clay: Colby Lewis
      Jim Brown: Morocco Omari
       
      'One Night in Miami': Ticket information
      Performances run March 20 through April 19.
      Space Theatre
      Performances daily except Mondays
      Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site here

      Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
      Video: DCPA's 'One Night in Miami' cast gives Shout-Out to Baltimore Center Stage
      Full casting announced
      Video: Interview with 'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield
      New Denver Center season includes 'One Night in Miami'
      Go to the official show page

      'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield at the first rehearsal at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore.
      'One Night in Miami' Director Carl Cofield at the first rehearsal at the DCPA. Photo by John Moore.
    • Denver 'One Night in Miami' Shout-Out to Baltimore Center Stage

      by John Moore | Feb 20, 2015



      The cast of the DCPA Theatre Company's upcoming 'One Night in Miami' has a special message of congratulations for the cast of the same play at Baltimore's Center Stage, which closes Feb. 22 after an extended, record-breaking run.

      The DCPA Theatre Company's staging, directed by Carl Cofield, began rehearsals this week and runs March 20 through April 19. Kemp Powers' play imagines what happened the night Cassius Clay spent with activist Malcolm X, singer Sam Cooke and football player Jim Brown after Clay's historic win over heavyweight champ Sonny Liston in 1964. Featured in this video are Cofield, Nik Walker, York Walker, William Oliver Watkins, Jason Delane, Colby Lewis and Morocco Omari.

      UPDATE:

      Today (Feb. 23) we heard back from the cast of CenterStage. A ricochet of love from Denver to Baltimore ... and now back. Take a look:

      The Baltimore cast includes Grasan Kingsberry (Sam Cooke), Royce Johnson (Brother Kareem), Esau Pritchett (Jim Brown), Sullivan Jones (Cassius Clay), Genesis Oliver (Brother Jamaal), and Tory Andrus (Malcolm X).

      Oliver is a graduate of the Denver Center's former masters program, the National Theatre Conservatory.


      'One Night in Miami': Ticket information
      Performances run March 20 through April 19.
      Space Theatre
      Performances daily except Mondays
      Call 303-893-4100, or go to the Denver Center’s web site here

      Our previous coverage of One Night in Miami:
      Full casting announced
      Go to the official show page
      Video: Denver gets first look at upcoming 'One Night in Miami'
      New Denver Center season includes 'One Night in Miami'


      'One Night in Miami.' Photo by John Moore.
    POPULAR POSTS
     
    ABOUT THE EDITOR
    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

    DCPA is the nation’s largest not-for-profit theatre organization dedicated to creating unforgettable shared experiences through beloved Broadway musicals, world-class plays, educational programs and inspired events. We think of theatre as a spark of life — a special occasion that’s exciting, powerful and fun. Join us today and we promise an experience you won't soon forget.