(BOSTON) – Sixty years after the landmark American novel’s publication, the Huntington Theatre Company presents a searing production of Ralph Ellison’s epic Invisible Man. The first adaptation in any medium to be authorized by the Ellison Trust, the Jefferson Award-winning script is by Academy Award-nominated screenwriter Oren Jacoby. Christopher McElroen, award-winner and co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem, directs. Teagle F. Bougere delivers “a tour-de-force performance” (BroadwayWorld.com) in the iconic title role.
When Invisible Man premiered at Chicago’s Court Theatre with the same creative team, it was hailed as “a remarkable, must-see dramatic achievement” by Chicago Tribune. This co-production, featuring actors from Boston and Washington, DC, originated at Washington, DC’s Studio Theatre where the fall run was twice extended due to popular demand.
“Invisible Man is not only a classic of American literature. It is also one of the greatest novels ever written,” says African-American historian Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. “As a meditation on the intricacies of race and class in American culture, it has not been surpassed.”
The “extraordinary and transporting” production (Washingtonian) begins with the first line of the novel: “I am an invisible man.” An unnamed, idealistic, young African-American searches for identity and his place in the world as he journeys through 1930s America – from the Deep South to a basement in the borderlands of Harlem, from a betrayal at his ivy-covered Negro college to a nightmare job in a New York paint factory, to the story’s climax at a Harlem race riot. He moves through an America divided by race and class, grappling with the paradoxes of identity that have rendered him invisible. Ellison’s landmark American novel about race, power, freedom, and liberty comes to life onstage in this gripping theatrical adaptation.
"It's a great privilege to bring Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man to the stage for the first time,” says director Christopher McElroen. “It's a task that my collaborators and I approach with the utmost respect. We look forward to continuing the play's development in collaboration with the Huntington, and mounting the show on the Huntington's mainstage provides us the opportunity to explore it on a new scale. From my previous work in Boston, I know of the richness of the city's theatergoing community, and I’m excited to share Invisible Man with it.”
“This blazingly theatrical adaptation of one of the most important books of the 20th century confronts us with a blistering perspective on race in America,” says Huntington Artistic Director Peter DuBois. Hear more from DuBois about the production.
PRAISE FOR THIS PRODUCTION
“A delightful confection of a strong script, ensemble cast (led by the extraordinarily talented Teagle F. Bougere), and a stunning production make this show a must-see…the definition of theatrical brilliance.”– BroadwayWorld.com
“A remarkable achievement. Oren Jacoby’s adaptation succeeds brilliantly, and director Christopher McElroen does a magnificent job.”– Maryland Theatre Guide
“4.5 stars! The theatrical presentation of this literary masterpiece captures the epic scope of the novel. A reward for Ralph Ellison fans.”– DC Metro Theatre Arts
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
The cast features Teagle F. Bougere (A Raisin in the Sun and The Tempest on Broadway, Invisible Man at Court Theatre) in the title role and an ensemble that includes McKinley Belcher III (As You Like It at Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles; Brian D. Coats (On the Levee at Lincoln Center Theater/LCT3); Boston actor Johnny Lee Davenport (Vengeance is the Lord’s at the Huntington and The Tempest and Othello at Tennessee Shakespeare Company), Boston actor De’Lon Grant (Troilus and Cressida and Cymbeline at Actor’s Shakespeare Project); Edward James Hyland (Arcadia and The Man Who Had it All on Broadway); Joy Jones(Ruined and Tantalus at The Denver Center); Boston actor Jeremiah Kissel (Circle Mirror Transformation and The Cherry Orchard at the Huntington, and Hamlet at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Deidra LaWan Starnes (Passing Strange and Radio Golf at The Studio Theatre); and Julia Watt (Invisible Man at Court Theatre).
Oren Jacoby (adaptor) has directing credits that include Theater for the New City, Westbeth Theater, and Williamstown Theatre Festival. His credits as dramaturg include productions at Trinity Repertory Company and Dallas Theater Center. His film and television credits as a director, producer, and/or screenwriter include Sister Rose’s Passion (Oscar nominee for Best Documentary Short Film; winner at the Tribeca Film Festival, HBO); Constantine’s Sword, Lafayette: The Lost Hero; Topdog Diaries with Suzan-Lori Parks, Don Cheadle, and Jeffrey Wright; Shakespeare Sessions with John Barton, Kevin Kline, and Charles S. Dutton; Sam Shepard: Stalking Himself with Ethan Hawke and Ed Harris; the PBS Series The Irish in America with Jason Robards and Claire Bloom; Swingin’ with Duke; Benny Goodman Adventures in the King of Swing; The Beatles Revolution; and three films for the BBC series The Second Russian Revolution (winner: Dupont/Columbia Gold Baton for Best Documentary Series). He is a graduate of Brown University and the directing program of the Yale School of Drama.
Christopher McElroen (director) co-founded the Classical Theatre of Harlem (named “1 of 8 Theatres in America to Watch” by the Drama League) where between 1999 and 2009 he produced 41 productions that yielded 18 AUDELCO, six Obie Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, and a Drama Desk Award. He has directed over thirty productions, including an original adaptation of Richard Wright’s novel Native Son and The Blacks: A Clown Show (four 2003 Obie Awards, one of the ten best Off Broadway productions of 2003 by The New York Times). Alongside visual artist Paul Chan and Creative Time, Mr. McElroen co-produced and directed Waiting for Godot in New Orleans (New York Times top 10 national art events of 2007). He has directed or guest lectured at Stanford University, Duke University, Purdue University, New York University, Pace University, Dartmouth College, University of Iowa, University of North Carolina, The Contemporary Arts Center Boston, The Walker Arts Center, and The Museum of Modern Art, among others. His work has been recognized with the American Theatre Wing Award (Outstanding Artistic Achievement), Drama Desk Award (Artistic Achievement), Edwin Booth Award (Outstanding Contribution to NYC Theatre), Lucille Lortel Award (Outstanding Body of Work), and two Obie Awards (Sustained Achievement and Excellence in Theatre).
Scenic design by Troy Hourie (Three Sisters and Waiting for Godot at Classical Theatre of Harlem); costume design by Kathleen Geldard (Sucker Punch at The Studio Theatre and Frozen for 2ndStage); lighting design by Mary Louise Geiger (The Constant Wife on Broadway and Time Stands Still at The Studio Theatre); projections by Alex Koch, IMA (Irina’s Vow on Broadway and Invisible Man at Court Theatre); sound design by David Remedios (The Luck of the Irish at the Huntington and Coriolanus at Commonwealth Shakespeare Company). Production stage manager is Leslie Sears. Stage manager is Jeremiah Mullane.
- Grand Patron: Boston University
- Season Sponsors: Carol G. Deane, J. David Wimberly
- Production Co-Sponsors: Linda and Brooks Zug
ABOUT THE HUNTINGTON
Since its founding in 1982, the Huntington Theatre Company has developed into Boston’s leading theatre company. Bringing together superb local and national talent, the Huntington produces a mix of groundbreaking new works and classics made current. Led by Artistic Director Peter DuBois and Managing Director Michael Maso, the Huntington creates award-winning productions, runs nationally renowned programs in education and new play development, and serves the local theatre community through its operation of the Calderwood Pavilion at the BCA. The Huntington is in residence at Boston University. For more information, visit huntingtontheatre.org.
PRODUCTION CALENDAR AND RELATED EVENTS
Post-Show Audience Conversations
Led by members of the Huntington staff. After most Tuesday - Friday, Saturday matinee, and Sunday matinee performances throughout the season. Free with a ticket to the performance.
- Wednesday, January 16 following the 2pm performance
- Thursday, January 24 following the 7:30pm performance
Participating cast members answer questions from the audience.
Student Matinee Performances with Actors Forums
- Wednesday, January 23 at 10am (ASL-interpreted)
- Thursday, January 31 at 10am
For students in grades 6-12. To reserve tickets, call 617 273 1558, or visit our Student Matinee page.
- Wednesday, January 23 at 10am (Student Matinee performance)
- Friday, January 25 at 8pm
For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact Meg O'Brien, Manager of Education Operations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Sunday, January 27 following the 2pm performance
A post-performance talk exploring the context and significance of Invisible Man.