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Amiri Baraka’s Final Play, On WEB DuBois, to Premiere in NYC

Amiri Baraka’s final play, The Most Dangerous Man in America (WEB DuBois) is set for a world premiere on May 28 at the Castillo Theatre in New York City. Woodie King, Jr., producing director of the New Federal Theatre, successfully raised $51,184 via a Kickstarter Campaign, much more than $40,000, the amount that was still needed to produce the play. Baraka joined the ancestors on January 9, 2014, and King explained that this initiative was part of a major public and personal homage to the great playwright and poet, his friend of some 50 years.

MDMIA-Image-Square-003The Most Dangerous Man in America (W.E.B. Du Bois) is a dramatic reflection of one of the most traumatic events in the terrible period of McCarthyism. W.E.B. Du Bois, cofounder of the NAACP and a scholar and political activist known and recognized throughout the world for his advocacy of peace and his opposition to nuclear weapons, was indicted in 1951 by the U.S. federal government at the age of 82 as a spy or, specifically, “an agent of a foreign power.” DuBois and others were persecuted during the days of the McCarthy era witch-hunts. Anyone who had any independent thought was branded as a member of the Communist Party and, therefore, an enemy of the United States.  Among those hauled into Congress and excoriated were DuBois, Paul Robeson and other activist/artists, Black and white.  DuBois, a founder of the NAACP and the organization’s Crisis Magazine, held tight to a life-long mission to actively research what, if anything, Black people could do to extricate themselves from the stranglehold of racism in a post-slavery society.  Throughout the play, the focus moves back and forth between the Harlem community and their opinions, and the witnesses’ testimony and the courtroom bnow is the timeattles, giving a more balanced view of the interior narrative.

Artist and activist Danny Glover spoke of the nexus between DuBois and Baraka, both of whom were activists. Glover stated that Baraka was the inspiration behind his becoming an actor and the activist he is today. “When I think about Dr. DuBois, I think about Amiri who I met for the first as a 20-year-old student in 1967 (at San Francisco State College). We invited him there to develop a community communications program. Amiri talked about the use of art as a means of revolution. It was the beginning of my transformation.”

Leading the company of The Most Dangerous Man in America (WEB DuBois) are former WABC-TV news anchor Art McFarland as Du Bois and Petronia Paley as his wife. Also featured are Arthur Bartow, Michael Basile, Marie Guinier, Ralph McCain, Zuhariah McGil, Nick Plakias, Stu Richel, Joyce Sylvester, and Landon G. Woodson, along with Lamar K. Cheston, Keldrick Crowder, Sidiki Fofana, Michael Green, Te’la Curtis Lee, Robert Siverls, and Akil N. Williams.

Amiri 2Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre has dedicated its 46th season to the late poet/playwright Amiri Baraka. The season, titled “The Amiri Baraka Project,” contains two Baraka plays: his 1964 classic Dutchman, which closed on March 8, and The Most Dangerous Man in America (W. E. B. Du Bois) from May 28-June 11. The New Federal Theatre was founded in 1970 by Woodie King Jr. and specializes in producing plays by writers of color, and of women.

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