A look at the life of comedic genius Dick Gregory at The Westside Theatre (407 West 43rd Street) Opening Off-Broadway MAY 19, 2016 Previews Begin MAY 3, 2016.
New York, NY (May, 2016) — Producers John Legend and Mike Jackson, in association with Get Lifted Film Company, announced today that Turn Me Loose, a new comedic drama by Gretchen Law about the life of comedian and civil rights activist, Dick Gregory, will open Off-Broadway at the Westside Theatre (407 West 43rdStreet) on May 19, 2016. Previews begin on May 3, 2016. The production stars Tony Award-nominee, Emmy and NAACP Image Award- winner Joe Morton (“Scandal”) in the lead role of Dick Gregory, under the direction of John Gould Rubin. The play also features actor John Carlin, as well as an original song by John Legend.
When asked what drew him to the project, John Legend said, “People like Dick Gregory, Paul Robeson, Harry Belafonte and Nina Simone show me what the definition of an artist is – it isn’t just to make art but to speak truth to what’s happening, speak beauty into the world, speak love into the world and also... get involved.”
Turn Me Loose is a new play about 60’s comic genius Dick Gregory, the first Black stand-up to make white audiences laugh at the absurdity of bigotry. The play reveals how the overwhelming power of activism enticed Gregory from one of the most successful show business careers of the postwar era into a life of sacrifice and danger alongside Martin Luther King, Medgar Evers and other Civil Rights leaders. Wielding razor-sharp wit Gregory hacked away at myths about race, poverty, war, and politics.
In a recent interview President Obama called Dick Gregory one of his two favorite comics ever. The other was Richard Pryor who himself said, "Dick Gregory was the greatest and he was the first."
Turn Me Loose features scenic design by Tony Award-winner Chris Barreca (Rocky), costume design by Tony Award-winner Susan Hilferty (Wicked), lighting design by Stephen Strawbridge, and sound design by Tony Award-winner Leon Rothenberg (The Nance). “It’s a beautiful piece of work,” Joe Morton said, “The conflict, basically, is watching this man who broke the color line on television in terms of being a comedian, morph into becoming the activist he eventually became.”
“Dick Gregory is both a great comedian and a legendary activist whose life straddles his personal struggle between those two all-consuming endeavors,...” added Director John Gould Rubin. Playwright Gretchen Law added, “Dick Gregory entreats us to listen to the universe for cues as to what it means to be responsive persons of action in messy and unconscionable human affairs.” She adds, “ I was fortunate enough to grow up in a household listening to Mr. Gregory the comedian. We laughed and cried; his humor and his truth resonated. Now I’ve been blessed to have this opportunity to write about him”
For more information please visit www.TurnMeLoosePlay.com. Tickets are now on sale via Telecharge.com or by phone at (212) 239-6200.
Jackie Judd, The Private Theatre, Eric Falkenstein, Ron Simons, Beth Hubbard/Elliot Osagie and Eagle Rock Productions produce along with John Legend, Mike Jackson and Get Lifted Film Company. Co-producers include Mary Ellen Lorenzo, Czekaj Artistic Productions, Peter Askin, Mike Fine and Jamie deRoy. -----
Joe Morton (Dick Gregory), a Emmy® Award and multiple NAACP Image Award winning film, television and stage veteran, is best known for his dynamic role as “Rowan Pope,” the merciless and sinister father of DC fixer and crisis manager ‘Olivia Pope’ (Kerry Washington) and formerly the immoral head of the clandestine, black-ops division “B613” in Shonda Rhimes’ groundbreaking series “Scandal” on ABC. Up next, Morton will portray the role of ‘Roy Wilkins’ alongside Bryan Cranston in the highly-anticipated HBO biopic All The Way, adapted from the Tony Award-winning Robert Schenkkan play, which also starred Cranston.
The Broadway trained, decorated actor has over 40 years of experience in theatre, television and film. Besides his Emmy-winning role in “Scandal,” Morton is also widely known for playing the title character in John Sayle’s sci-fi film The Brother From Another Planet and as the ill-fated scientist ‘Miles Dyson’ in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. His other film credits include Speed, American Gangster, What Lies Beneath, and The Astronaut’s Wife, among many others.
On the small screen, Morton delighted TV audiences for five seasons as the jack-of-all-trades scientist ‘Henry Deacon’ in the Emmy® nominated SyFy series “Eureka,” recurred as ‘Daniel Golden,” the attorney to ‘Peter Florrick (Chris Noth) in CBS’s “The Good Wife,” and is widely known for his role in The Cosby Show’s spin-off “A Different World.” Morton recently appeared in Kyra Sedgwick-produced TNT medical drama “Proof” in which he plays esteemed neurosurgeon ‘Dr. Charles Russell’ alongside Jennifer Beals and Matthew Modine.
John Gould Rubin (Director) has directed throughout the world, both classics and contemporary plays as well as devised, deconstructed, site-specific and multi-media theater works. As Director, Producer and Actor He has worked off-Broadway, Off-off Broadway, at The Public, LAByrinth, BAM, The Old Globe, The International Ibsen Festival in Oslo, The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, The Donmar, Almeida and Soho Theatres in London, and on the West End, The Sydney Theater, and the Teatro Comunale in Florence, Italy. He was formerly the co-Artistic and Executive Director of LAByrinth Theater Company, and is now Artistic Director of The Private Theatre.
Gretchen Law (Playwright) is the author of five full-length plays. The Adventures Of A Black Girl In Search Of Her God was adapted from a Bernard Shaw story of the same title and has been approved for production by The Society of Authors, who manage Shaw’s literary estate. Al Sharpton for President was a semi-finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwright’s Conference, 2006. Turn Me Loose was workshopped by the Atlantic Theater Company in November 2013, at New York Stage and Film in the summer of 2014 and at New York Theatre Workshop in September of 2014.
Additionally, her plays, including History Lessons and Loving Charley Pride, have been read at The National Black Theater Festival, The Players, The National Arts Club, the Harlem Theater Company, the LaByrinth Theater Company and The Dramatist Guild, of which she is a member. She is a practicing psychotherapist with degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Columbia University School of Social Work. In 1991 she founded the Parents' Foundation, 100 Broadway, in New Haven, CT, a residential community for adults with psychiatric illnesses.