CHAPEL HILL — PlayMakers Repertory Company kicks off its new Mainstage Season Sept. 18-Oct. 6 with the regional premiere of the acclaimed new play focusing on the last night in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall. Special events associated with the show begin Sept. 11.
Set on April 3, 1968 in Memphis at the Lorraine Motel, “The Mountaintop” unfolds on the historic last night in the life of the civil rights icon. A visitation from a mysterious woman leads him to confront his innermost thoughts and fears on the stormy evening before his assassination.
PlayMakers performances will be in the Paul Green Theatre in UNC’s Department for Dramatic Art on Country Club Road. Show times will be 7:30 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays and Sunday, Sept. 29; 2 p.m. Sundays and Saturday, Oct 5. There are no performances Saturday, Sept. 28.
The play premiered in London to great critical acclaim, winning the Olivier Award for Best New Play (2009). A hit Broadway run followed, starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett. The Independent (London) called it “breathtaking, hilarious and heart-stopping.” Variety said “The Mountaintop” is “emotionally powerful and theatrically stunning.”
The co-production is directed by PlayMakers associate artist Raelle Myrick-Hodges, who helmed the theater company’s hit production of “A Raisin in the Sun” last season and also directed “Topdog/Underdog” (2008) and “I Have Before Me a Remarkable Document Given to Me by a Young Lady From Rwanda” (2010).
Cedric Mays appears as Martin Luther King Jr. and Lakisha May performs the role of Camae.
In conjunction with “The Mountaintop,” PlayMakers will host “The Vision Series-Directors in Conversation,” a behind-the-scenes preview with director Myrick-Hodges, at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 11, in the Paul Green Theatre. The event is free and open to the public. Participants share coffee and hors d’oeuvres provided by series sponsor Jujube Restaurant, learn about the vision for the show and get a sneak peek at the sets and costumes in progress. Reservations are appreciated. Call PlayMakers’ box office at 919-962-7529 to RSVP.
Other special events will include:
• Sept. 16, 7 p.m.: “In the Wings,” a series created by PlayMakers and the Durham County Library. Cast and creative team members (designers, actors and production personnel) discuss the play at the Main Library, 300 N. Roxboro St., downtown Durham;
• Sept 18, 19 and 20, 7:30 p.m.: preview performances;
• Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m.: opening night performance with complimentary gala party afterward;
• Sept. 24: an all-access performance for attendees with special needs, with sign language interpretation and audio description;
• Sept. 25 and 29: free post-show discussions with members of the creative team;
• Sept. 29, 2 p.m.: open captioned performance;
• Oct. 5: 1-6 p.m. UNC’s Program in the Humanities presents “The History and Legacy of the Civil Rights Movement” followed by a reception and the 7:30 p.m. performance of “The Mountaintop.” Optional theater ticket is $28 with $75 tuition.
• Oct. 5 and 6: free post-show “Mindplay” discussions sponsored by the North Carolina Psychoanalytic Society.
During its 2013-14 Mainstage Season, PlayMakers will also present “The Tempest” by William Shakespeare with “Metamorphoses” by Mary Zimmerman (performed in rotating repertory Nov. 2-Dec. 8); Noel Coward’s comedy classic “Private Lives” (Jan. 22-Feb.9); and the regional premiere of “Love Alone” (Feb. 26-March 16). The season concludes with Stephen Sondheim’s Tony Award-winning musical “Assassins” (April 2-20).