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When We Wake Up Dead Receives World Premiere

Nearly a year ago, playwright and actor Dennis A. Allen II introduced When We Wake Up Dead to The Classical Theatre of Harlem for its Future Classics reading series. Now the work comes to life again for its world premiere March 18-23, at Brooklyn College Department of Theatre.

The play reconnects fraternal twins Bryant and James Walker with their ailing Uncle Cecil. While in Somewhere, Mississippi, they must not only deal with the death of their uncle, but the increasing mental instability of their suicidal cousin and a devastating family secret.

“It’s always death that brings about change in the world,” is a statement from the play’s patriarch. His dying sets in motion events that will forever change the family members’ worlds. When We Wake Up Dead is described as “an exploration of grief, mental illness and the fragility of familiar bonds.”

The MainStage production, again directed by Christopher Burris, will run for six performances in The New Workshop Theatre. Tickets for When We Wake Up Dead can be purchased HERE. Student and senior discounts are available.

The New York native and graduate of Brooklyn College’s MFA Playwriting program also teamed with Burris on his short play The Mud Is Thicker In Mississippi, which won the 2010 Samuel French Off-Off Broadway Short Play Festival, and The Special Technique of Shadowboxing at National Black Theatre.

Allen’s maxim hails from Paulo Coehlo’s The Alchemist: “To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only real obligation.” Allen’s destiny has led his plays to being produced and/or developed by Sanctuary NYC, Variations Theatre Group, The Bowery Poetry Club (Sticky), JACK and Liberation Theatre.

He is a recipient of Atlantic Theater Company’s inaugural 2014-2015 Launch Commission and the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award for 2012 and 2013. In 2013, Allen was a featured playwright at The Fire This Time Festival (MOTHER) and Harlem9’s 48 hours in Harlem (Where the Sun Don’t Shine). His collaborative work includes the  Schomburg Junior Scholars theatrical reading of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail” and The New Black Fest’s Hands Up: Six Playwrights, Six Testaments during 2014, as well as The American Slavery Project’s 2012 “Unheard Voices.”

Alongside Nambi E. Kelley, Allen has been selected for National Black Theatre’s 2015-2016 I AM SOUL Playwright Residency. The playwrights each will develop a new play during their residency, culminating in a workshop production during NBT’s 48th season. Invited to the Jan. 26-31 Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, Allen participated in the national panel discussion on “Diversity, Casting and Responsible Artistic Practice”.

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