Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Photos: Suzan-Lori Parks’ THE DEATH OF THE LAST BLACK MAN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD Extended at Signature Theatre through Dec.11

Signature Theatre (Paige Evans, Artistic Director; Erika Mallin, Executive Director; James Houghton, Founder) is presenting The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, by Pulitzer Prize-winner Suzan-Lori Parks and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Parks is Signature’s current Residency One playwright; her plays Venus, directed by Lear deBessonet, and The Red Letter Plays: In the Blood and Fucking A, directed by Jo Bonney, will be presented in 2017.

Patrena Murray, Jamar Williams, Daniel J. Watts, Reynaldo Piniella and David Ryan Smith. Photo: Joan Marcus

Patrena Murray, Jamar Williams, Daniel J. Watts, Reynaldo Piniella and David Ryan Smith. Photo: Joan Marcus

The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World is currently in previews in The Alice Griffin Jewel Box Theatre at The Pershing Square Signature Center (480 West 42nd Street between 9th and 10th Avenues), with opening night set for Sunday, November 13 and performances continue through – December 11, 2016. All tickets for the initial run of the production are $30 as part of the Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access. To purchase tickets for all Signature Productions, call Ticket Services at 212-244-7529 (Tues. – Sun., 11am – 6pm) or visit www.SignatureTheatre.org.

Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

The cast includes William DeMeritt (HBO’s The Normal Heart) as Voice on Thuh Tee V, Nike Kadri (Classic Stage’s Iphigenia in Aulis) as Yes and Greens Black-Eyed Peas Cornbread, Patrena Murray (CTG’s Father Comes Home from the Wars) as Ham, Reynaldo Piniella (The Erlkings at Theatre Row) as And Bigger and Bigger and Bigger, Julian Rozzell (Public’s Father Comes Home from the Wars) as Old Man River Jordan, Roslyn Ruff (Signature’s The Piano Lesson) as Black Woman with Fried Drumstick, Mirirai Sithole (Classic Stage’s Mother Courage and Her Children) as Prunes and Prisms, David Ryan Smith (Public’s The Comedy of Errors) as Before Columbus, Daniel J. Watts (Hamilton) as Black Man with Watermelon, Jamar Williams (Second Stage’s Invisible Thread) as Lots of Grease and Lots of Pork, Amelia Workman (Second Stage’s The Layover) as Queen-Then-Pharaoh Hatshepsut.

Jamar Williams, William DeMeritt, Mirirai Sithole, Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith, Nike Kadri, Reynaldo Piniella and Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

Jamar Williams, William DeMeritt, Mirirai Sithole, Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith, Nike Kadri, Reynaldo Piniella and Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

The design team includes Riccardo Hernandez (Scenic Design), Montana Blanco (Costume Design), Yi Zhao (Lighting Design), Palmer Hefferan (Sound Design), Hannah Wasileski (Projection Design), Raja Feather Kelly (Movement), Cookie Jordan (Wig Design). Terri K. Kohler is the Production Stage Manager. Casting by Telsey + Company.

William DeMeritt, Amelia Workman, Patrena Murray, Jamar Williams, Mirirai Sithole, Julian Rozzell, Nike Kadri and Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

William DeMeritt, Amelia Workman, Patrena Murray, Jamar Williams, Mirirai Sithole, Julian Rozzell, Nike Kadri and Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

A woman tries to feed her husband a fried drumstick. Dragons roam a flat earth. The last Black man in the whole entire world dies again. And again. Careening through memory and language, Parks explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy. A riotous theatrical event, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz.

Mirirai Sithole, Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith, Nike Kadri, Jamar Williams with Roslyn Ruff and Daniel J. Watts (center). Photo: Joan Marcus

Mirirai Sithole, Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith, Nike Kadri, Jamar Williams with Roslyn Ruff and Daniel J. Watts (center). Photo: Joan Marcus

Tickets to the initial runs of all Signature Productions at The Pershing Square Signature Center are $30, part of the groundbreaking Signature Ticket Initiative: A Generation of Access, a program that guarantees affordable and accessible tickets to every Signature production through 2031. Serving as a model for theatres and performing arts organizations across the country, the Initiative was founded in 2005 and is made possible by lead partner The Pershing Square Foundation. Additional support provided by the Howard Gilman Foundation, Margot Adams, Rhoda Herrick and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.

(top) Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith and Nike Kadri; (middle) Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole and Jamar Williams; (bottom) Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

(top) Amelia Workman, David Ryan Smith and Nike Kadri; (middle) Roslyn Ruff, Mirirai Sithole and Jamar Williams; (bottom) Daniel J. Watts. Photo: Joan Marcus

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang_photo by Garth Kravits

Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers,  musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.

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