Creativity is Calling.


Some great performances come with elaborate costumes or prosthetic noses attached. Some involve crackerjack timing or floods of tears.

But the great performance Kerry Washington is giving in “American Son,” which opened on Sunday at the Booth Theater on Broadway, features no such decoration. The only thing Ms. Washington has to do as Kendra Ellis-Connor is bulldoze her way through 85 minutes of mounting agony as a mother whose son may be in desperate trouble.

Let’s add “black” to that sentence, because it changes everything: “as a black mother whose son may be in desperate trouble.”

“American Son,” by Christopher Demos-Brown, is part of a wave of new plays that consider the vulnerability of young black men in their dealings with the police. But unlike “Pass Over,” “Until the Flood,” “Kill Move Paradise” and “Scraps,” the style here is neither surreal nor poetic; it’s ticktock realism, deployed in real time. And the focus is not on the young men or the police but on the parents caught in between...

In jeans and tennis shoes, with her hair pulled back to highlight her weary, worried face, Ms. Washington trails no glamour from her seven seasons as the political fixer Olivia Pope on “Scandal.” Nor does she have any of Olivia’s finesse and power. All she has is a torrent of words, barely containing her rage at everything: at her son for slapping a provocative bumper sticker on his car, at her husband for leaving them, at the police for stonewalling her and at history itself.

For even as she speaks through Kendra’s specific experience in lines like “Everything’s coming apart,” Ms. Washington evokes a larger and longer disaster. No matter how you build your life to avoid it, her performance suggests, the day will come when your black son is in danger. Perhaps all of your decoys, all of your success, will make that day come more surely.

This is a despairing message in a despairing play, and it renders the actual plot almost secondary. Indeed, after the first few minutes we don’t learn much more about what’s happened to Jamal until the final curtain. In between, the dispensing of calibrated micro-doses of information can seem manipulative; much of it could as easily be revealed earlier.
— Jesse Green, The New York Times

BREAKING - NEW YORK MAGAZINE: ngozi anyanwu’s “good grief,” featuring nnamdi asomugha, is am emotionally intelligent breath of fresh air

Ngozi Anyanwu’s play Good Grief, nimbly directed by Awoye Timpo at the Vineyard Theatre, takes that same wisdom to heart. Its story — about a young woman grieving the death of her longtime best friend, who might also have been the love of her life — is a heavy one, and could easily have gotten sucked into the whirlpools of weepiness. But Anyanwu and Timpo give it lift and breath. They make the play into a prism where, like light beams, we bounce between facets of memory and present circumstance — things that really happened and that never happened, or that happened somehow, but perhaps not exactly as they’ve been reconstructed and mythologized within our heroine’s mind. Playing that heroine, Nkechi, is Anyanwu herself, and though the entire play is an act of mourning, she hardly ever cries. Not because Anyanwu can’t go there as a performer, but because Good Grief is interested in something else. With theatrical agility and emotional intelligence, it’s exploring not what grief actually looks like but what it feels like from the inside, the weird internal labyrinth that we’re forced to navigate in the wake of a great loss... Nkechi’s story takes place in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, where she was raised by parents who immigrated from Nigeria “to raise [their] kids … to become doctors, lawyers, and nurses”; Nkechi herself is taking a break from her “six-year fast-track pre-med program” at Drexel when her friend-since-childhood, M.J. (Ian Quinlan), is killed in a car crash... Timpo and her team have created a living space, in which neurons fire and boundaries shift and memories coalesce and disperse like smoke. It’s Nkechi’s psyche that we’re inside of, but Anyanwu is smart in that she doesn’t give the character a maestro’s control. Sometimes Nkechi is able to edit what we’re seeing — “I’m sorry … I just,” she stammers in trying to recall M.J.’s funeral, “I wanna get this part right. It was actually more like this …” — but not always. Grief has trapped her in her own head, like a dreamer who might sometimes attain lucidity but is powerless to wake up.

...And there’s the big, brassy hip-hop throwdown with her brother, known simply as Bro (the excellent Nnamdi Asomugha), whose prescriptions for his sister include weed, malt-liquor 40s, and blasting Bone Thugs-N-Harmony on an old-school boombox. Asomugha and Anyanwu are hilarious together, fully settled into the smack-and-smack-back patter of siblings: “Why do you talk like that?” Nkechi needles her swaggering brother, “Like a character on The Wire … We live in Bucks County, homie.” “You worried about the way I talk?” he ribs her in return, “On yo … Melissa Joan Hart, Clarissa Explains It All, Alex Mac, Are You Afraid of the Dark–type shit. You ain’t white, you know that right? … Bitch, you know we got the same education.” And Nkechi scores the point: “Oh, I know ‘cause you got some of that shit twice.”

Anyanwu’s dialogue is released and sprightly, yet it’s clear that she and Asomugha are jousting at the edge of a cliff. He’s trying to keep her from going over, unaware that she already has — that, like anyone in mourning, she’s with him and not with him, both down at the bottom of the abyss and up above, looking at herself down below. Grief splits us, and as Bro sits with his divided sister, he ends up being the one to break down. Nkechi holds him, her eyes still dry, her face faraway, until he shakes it off: “Shit. My bad … This weed is mad strong.” Like much of Good Grief, the moment is emotionally astute and genuinely funny (truly, my least favorite thing about the show is the title, which feels thinner and easier than the play’s content). Anyanwu understands that humor in a story functions like lemon juice or salt — it heightens the flavors around it and adds a sting.
— New York Magazine

BREAKING - DEADLINE HOLLYWOOD: Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Nicholas Hoult & Nia Long Star In George Nolfi - Helmed ‘The Banker’


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Director George Nolfi has set Samuel L. JacksonAnthony MackieNicholas Hoult and Nia Long to star in The Banker, a fact based drama that Nolfi wrote with Niceole Levy. Jonathan Baker, Nnamdi Asomugha, Joel Viertel, and George Nolfi are producing.

The drama is based on the true story of two African American entrepreneurs, Bernard Garrett (Mackie) and Joe Morris (Jackson), who during the 1950’s tried to circumvent the racial limitations of the era and take on the establishment by recruiting a working class white man, Matt Steiner (Hoult) and training him to pose as the head of their business empire while they posed as a janitor and a chauffeur. Bernard’s wife Eunice (Nia Long), plays a key role in setting up the enterprise. Garrett and Morris become two of the wealthiest and most successful real estate owners in the country with Steiner as their front man, but their success brings about unforeseen risk of exposure that threatens everything.



BREAKING - BROADWAY WORLD: Monty Python's SPAMALOT Launches New Tour in Vermont Next Week, on track to broadway


The Tony Award-winning best musical Monty Python's Spamalot is coming to a city near you!

The first season of this brand-new national touring production launches October 22nd at The Flynn Center in Burlington, VT.

This outrageous musical comedy is lovingly ripped off from the film classic "Monty Python and the Holy Grail." Monty Python's Spamalot tells the legendary tale of King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table, and their quest for the Holy Grail, Monty Python's Spamalot features a chorus line of dancing divas, flying cows, killer rabbits, taunting Frenchmen, and show-stopping musical numbers! The Broadway production won three Tony Awards, including Best Musical, and was followed by two successful West End runs.



watch on amazon prime: CROWN HEIGHTS

THE 2017 SUNDANCE AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD-WINNING FILM and INDEPENDENT SPIRIT AWARD WINNING FILM is available for streaming on Amazon! Starring LaKeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, and Nestor Carbonell

NEWS: Amazon publishing launched a new imprint label - and crown heights is one of two debuted stories! 

Read the full press release here.

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STREAMING now: basmati blues

Academy Award Winner Brie Larson (The Room) and Utkarsh Ambudkar (Pitch Perfect) star in this sweet musical. Also featuring performances by Donald Sutherland and Scott Bakula, and original songs by Pearl Jam, Sugarland, Stone Gossard, and David Baerwald. Watch now in select theaters!


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