Angela Bassett’s only experience working with Samuel L. Jackson was in the early 1980s when she was an understudy, and he a star, in a Negro Ensemble Company production of “Colored People’s Time,” a play of vignettes set between the Civil War and the Montgomery bus boycott. This fall the two actors will reunite on Broadway — as co-stars — for another play inspired by history, Katori Hall’s drama “The Mountaintop,” about Dr. Martin Luther King on the night before his assassination.

Mr. Jackson has been attached to play King for some time; Halle Berry was initially lined up for the other role, a maid at the Lorraine Motel named Camae, but dropped out because of her child custody battle.

Ms. Bassett, a film and television actress who was nominated for an Academy Award playing Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It,” will now be Camae in the production, which Kenny Leon is directing. Preview performances are set to begin at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theater on Sept. 22, with opening night on Oct. 13.

In a telephone interview on Tuesday, Ms. Bassett said she had not been looking to do a play, but “The Mountaintop” appealed to her as “a new work by an exciting, fresh voice in the theater.”

Ms. Bassett, who was on Broadway in 1988 in August Wilson’s “Joe Turner’s Come and Gone,” added, “My 5-year-old twins are at the age where they have a sense of what people do, and they think I just appear in posters. I’m excited for them to see me satisfied and working.”

Written on June 23rd, 2011 , Media




From Battersea to Broadway

Katori Hall, whose Olivier-winning play The Mountaintop had its world premiere in Theatre 503 above a Battersea pub and is now preparing for an Autumn run on Broadway with Samuel L Jackson playing Martin Luther King, is back in London with a new play. Children of Killers is about life in post-genocide Rwanda as a group of teenagers prepare to meet their fathers – otherwise known as the men responsible for the atrocities – now released from prison and returning to the village. The play is one of 10 pieces of new writing to be performed at the end of the month by young people as part of the National Theatre Connections Festival. Other contributors include Samuel Adamson, Alia Bano (whose Gap sounds like a 21st-century take on The Beach and Lord of the Flies) and Noel Clarke, who has written Those Legs, a psychological drama about three pals struggling to come to terms with one of their gang losing the use of her legs after an accident.








Written on June 17th, 2011 , Media

Tickets for the Broadway premiere of the 2010 Olivier Award® winning Best Play, The Mountaintop by Katori Hall starring Samuel L. Jackson as DR. Martin Luther King, Jr., go on sale Sunday, June 12, 2011. Tickets are available at or by calling 212-239-6200, and beginning August 11th at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street).

Directed by Tony Award® nominee Kenny Leon (Fences, A Raisin in the Sun), The Mountaintop will begin performances on Tuesday, September 22, 2011, with an official opening on Thursday, October 13, 2011.

Taking place on April 3, 1968, The Mountaintop is a gripping reimagining of events the night before the assassination of civil rights leader DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. After delivering his legendary ‘I’ve Been to the Mountaintop’ speech, an exhausted Dr. King retires to his room at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis while a storm rages outside. When a mysterious young woman delivers room service, King is forced to confront his past, as well as his legacy to his people.

The Mountaintop is produced by Jean Doumanian, Sonia Friedman Productions, and Ambassador Theatre Group.

In a joint statement, Ms. Doumanian and Ms. Friedman said, “The Mountaintop is a brilliantly conceived gem of a play. An ambitious work of fiction that is powerful, heartbreaking, humorous and exhilarating. We are thrilled to be bringing Katori Hall‘s remarkable, Olivier-winning work to New York, and to present a singular new American voice to Broadway audiences. And we are honored to be presenting the Broadway debut of the great Samuel L. Jackson.”

The Mountaintop will play the following performance schedule: Tuesday at 7:00 p.m., Wednesday – Saturday at 8:00 p.m., with matinees on Wednesday & Saturday at 2:00 p.m. and Sunday at 3:00 p.m. Tickets ($75 – $125) are available at or by calling 212-239-6200, and beginning August 11th at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (242 West 45th Street).

The Mountaintop received its world premiere to critical acclaim in a three-week run at Theatre 503 in June 2009, and subsequently transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studio 1. The production featured powerful performances by David Harewood as DR. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Lorraine Burroughs as the mysterious Camae, under the direction of James Dacre. The Mountaintop also received two Evening Standard Awards Nominations, including Most Promising Playwright, and was awarded the coveted 2010 Olivier Award for Best Play. This year, Ms. Hall also received the Susan Smith Blackburn prize.

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Written on June 12th, 2011 , Media

American playwright Katori Hall has won the 2011 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize for Hurt Village, her play about a young African-American man who returns from military service in Iraq to find that his home is being demolished. Set in a housing project that Hall based on a real-life model, the play depicts the urban crises of a working-class, multigenerational family.

Now in its 33nd year, the Houston-based Blackburn Prize is awarded annually to an outstanding new English-language play by a woman.

Tony-winning actress Judith Ivey, one of this year’s judges, presented the award to Hall Monday at a private ceremony in New York. Hall received the $20,000 cash prize and a signed and numbered print by Willem de Kooning, which the artist created for the Blackburn Prize.

The judges’ statements praised the play for its “emotional truth, complex characters, visceral language and excellent storytelling,” deeming Hall “a voice for the disenfranchised of America.”

Hall’s other plays include The Mountaintop, which won acclaim at London’s Theater 503, then transferred to a West End run, winning Hall a 2010 Olivier Award for best new play.

Born in Memphis, Tenn., Hall earned degrees from Columbia University in 2003 and Harvard in 2005. She is a recent graduate of Julliard School’s Lila Acheson Wallace playwriting program.

Many Blackburn winners have gone on to receive other honors, including Tony Awards and Pulitzer Prizes. The selection process generates interest among theater companies, leading to increased productions for both winners and finalists. More than 100 nominees for this year’s prize were submitted by theater companies throughout the U.S. and U.K.

Other 2011 finalists were: Detroit by Lisa D’Amour, U.S.; Not the Worst Place by Sam Burns, U.K.; Lidless by Frances Ya-Chu Cowhig, U.S.; Fit and Proper People by Georgia Fitch, U.K.; In the Wake by Lisa Kron, U.S.; Really Old, Like 45 by Tamsin Oglesby, U.K.; Mr. Burns: A Post-Electric Play by Anne Washburn, U.S; The Golden Age by Joy Wilkinson, U.K.; and The Andes by Alexandra Wood, U.K.

Created to encourage women playwrights, the Blackburn Prize reflects the values of Houston-born actress and writer Susan Smith Blackburn, who died in 1977. The prize was founded by her sister, Emilie Kilgore of Houston, and her husband, William Blackburn of London.

Article By :Everette Evans



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Written on June 10th, 2011 , Media

Katori Hall, photographed at the National Civil Rights Museum in 2010, opened 'The Mountaintop' in England because the British 'are used to cracking open the masks of their kings.'

Katori Hall, photographed at the National Civil Rights Museum in 2010, opened “The Mountaintop” in England because the British “are used to cracking open the masks of their kings.”

Katori Hall is the renowned Memphis playwright you’ve probably never heard of … unless you’re British.

In March, she won the coveted Laurence Olivier Award for her fictional play, “The Mountaintop” — about the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — which made its debut in London.

Katori Hall, photographed at the National Civil Rights Museum in 2010, opened “The Mountaintop” in England because the British “are used to cracking open the masks of their kings.”

Hall, who just turned 29, is the first black woman to accept the award, the equivalent of winning a Tony on Broadway, and only the fourth female recipient since the awards began in 1976.

According to the British press, two other plays were favored to win.

The now-New Yorker has one more mountaintop to climb: Broadway, where the play is expected to arrive this fall.

On a recent trip home to Memphis, she spied a “For Rent” sign in the window over one of South Main Street’s vintage storefronts and wondered if she someday might get a “writer’s room” in the city.

Memphis, she says, is the wellspring of her best ideas. There’s something about the landscape that can be endlessly deconstructed for dramatic potential.

She found it shockingly appropriate, for example, that at one time, a housing project called Hurt Village was on Auction Street, which led down to the river where slaves were long ago unloaded from steamboats.

“I saw this housing project as a run-aground slave ship,” she said recently while sipping a cappuccino as a Downtown trolley roared past. “I saw the descent into an American nightmare.”

The play that came from it, “Hurt Village,” hasn’t been staged yet. She considers the subject matter “pretty heavy.”

Even heavier, perhaps, is “The Mountaintop,” which brought a slice of life from Room 306 of the Lorraine Motel to the British stage.

In Memphis, the name Katori Hall might be more familiar to her classmates at Craigmont High School or to her neighbors in Raleigh where she grew up.

Before she went off to Columbia University, Harvard drama school and the Juilliard playwriting program, her first published writings appeared in this newspaper when she was a neighborhood reporting intern.

“My time working as a reporter helped me figure out what stories I wanted to tell,” she said.

In “The Mountaintop,” Hall steps into the shoes of one of the word’s most famous and beloved civil rights figures. That’s one of the reasons the premiere production of the play went up in England, in a small theater over a bar.

“I felt like (the British) wouldn’t have a knee-jerk reaction to it, because they’re used to taking their heroes off of pedestals,” she said. “They are used to cracking open the masks of their kings.”

The play opens with a weary King alone in his hotel room shortly after his famous “Mountaintop” speech at Mason Temple. In Memphis to speak on behalf of the sanitation workers, King is preparing his next incendiary speech, “Why America is Going to Hell.”

When the motel’s beautiful new maid, Camae, arrives, King drops his guard and becomes, at least for Hall, a more complex and human figure.

As theater critic Nicola Christie of The Independent in London wrote, “One minute the pastor and his new friend are beating each other up with rounds of oratory; the next, they’re trying out how to look sexy while smoking. We discover, too, that King has stinky feet, wonders whether his moustache looks good on him or not and has an eye for the ladies. We also learn that he is terrified. Terrified that he is about to die, that the attempts on his life will finally get him. Terrified that he hasn’t had the chance to fix the world and that he hasn’t said goodbye to his wife and children.”

Writing the play, Hall says she felt like a vessel. Her fingers flew across the keyboard. She didn’t sandpaper the rough edges. She didn’t want her King to be “a toothless tiger.”

Perhaps because the play hasn’t been seen outside London, she hasn’t heard from people who knew King personally.

“People have reacted differently based on their knowledge of history,” she says. “I must say, I got the oddest reactions from older black men. I got an e-mail: ‘How dare you do this! You’re getting it wrong.’ And I respond I’m not some dumb chick making this up. I’m incredibly connected to history and heritage.

“For me, King has always been a ghost, haunting my life in the best way. The play is my attempt to make his legacy complete for me.”



Written on June 10th, 2011 , Media

The playwright behind the surprise winner at last year’s Laurence Olivier Awards, Katori Hall, has arrived in Moscow to promote her play. RT managed to caught up with the Broadway star


Written on June 10th, 2011 , Media


The president of Rwanda is releasing the killers. Years after the Tutsi genocide, the perpetrators begin to trickle back into the countryside to be reunited with their villages. A trio of friends, born during the genocide’s bloody aftermath, prepare to meet the men who gave them life. But as the homecoming day draws closer the young men are haunted by the sins of their fathers. Who can you become when violence is your inheritance?

Katori Hall’s new play Children of Killers was commissioned by the London’s National Theatre where it was included in their Connections program.   The Connections Festival is the culmination of the National’s year-long, nationwide celebration of new writing for young performers. The festival brings ten young companies from across the UK to the National’s stages to perform ten thrilling new plays, commissioned especially for Connections.

Eight productions of the play have been performed in London with one from the youth theatre at the Bristol’s City Academy students directed by Miranda Cromwell They have been invited to perform at the National on July 1, 2011.  Learn more about the Bristol City Academy  at

Children Of Killers was inspired by a trip to Rwanda in 2009 where Hall attended a genocide studies conference and spoke with victims and perpetrators of  genocide. The play is now being peformed all across the world. It was translated into Portuguese by Francisco Frazao as part of Portugal youth theatre program similar to UK’s Connections.  Over 30 productions of Children of Killers was performed. Three were chosen for the final festival Culturgest where youth programs from all across the nation descended upon Lisbon.

Children of Killers is slated to have its American premiere in May 2012 at Castillo Theatre in conjunction with YouthOnstage.

The script, included in the National Theatre’s Connections collection, is available for purchase online on




To find out more about Children Of Killers in London visit The National Theatre’s website


Group : Na Xina Lua da ES Tondela

Photos by : Carlos Teles



Written on June 10th, 2011 , Events
Katori Hall on Twitter