The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s “Fit for a Queen”

2016-10-11 11

Sheria Irving as Senenmut — April Yvette Thompson as Hapshepsut. Photo credit: Lelund Durond Thompson

Written by Betty Shamieh, Directed by Tamilla Woodard

Featuring April Yvette Thompson

The Classical Theatre of Harlem –Ty Jones, Producing Artistic Director; David Roberts, Managing Director– presents the world premiere of “Fit for a Queen,” a comedy inspired by the life of Hatshepsut, a woman who ruled as a pharaoh in ancient Egypt.

Hatshepsut’s female lover helps her usurp the throne, only to finds herself at odds with an unexpectedly ruthless rival for power – her daughter.

Full of intrigue, farce, and sexual politics, “Fit for a Queen” illuminates the largely unknown history of a compelling Egyptian woman who took power over the ancient world’s most advanced civilization.

Far from the likes of her female successors Cleopatra and Elizabeth I, Hatshepsut ruled as a monarch in men’s clothing, demanding people refer to her as “pharaoh,” which is strictly a male title. She wielded her power through a persona of alpha-masculinity, which was tolerated only while she was alive. The images and statues that portrayed Hatshepsut as a masculine pharaoh were defaced and destroyed during her son-in-law’s reign. Her enemies almost succeeded in erasing the legacy of a woman who ruled the superpower of the ancient world.

With a timely opening just a few short weeks before the U.S. Presidential election, “Fit For a Queen” brings up questions we are still struggling with as a modern society, particularly as we watch Hillary Clinton grappling with the challenges of being the United States’ first female presidential candidate from a major party.

Is it effective for a woman to use the tropes and mannerisms of masculinity to assert her right to power? Why have women like Hatshepsut been largely wiped out from our cultural memory? How might we, as men and women, have evolved differently if a story of a powerful, effective, cross-dressing female pharaoh was a part of our history lessons on ancient civilizations?

Few stories onstage will feel as provocative, illuminating, and exciting as Fit for a Queen at this moment in our nation’s history.

Tickets: The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Fit For a Queen is showing at 3LD Art & Technology Center, 80 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10006.

Tickets can be purchased online via The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s website

Price: $20 – $40

Shows will continue from October 8 – 30. Sunday performances are at 2:00PM. All other shows begin at 8:00PM. Please note, there are no performances on Mondays.

Playwright Betty Shamieh is the author of fifteen plays.

Shamieh was awarded a 2016 Guggenheim Fellowship in Drama and Performance Art. Her off-Broadway premieres are The Black Eyed (New York Theatre Workshop, Director: Sam Gold), and Roar (The New Group, Director Marion McClinton). Roar is currently being taught at universities throughout the United States. The Machine (Director: Marisa Tomei) was produced by Naked Angels at the Duke Theatre. Her European productions in translation include Again and Against (Playhouse Theater, Stockholm), The Black Eyed (Fournos Theatre, Athens), and Territories (a co-production of the Landes Theatre and the 2009 European Union Capital of Culture Festival). A graduate of Harvard College and the Yale School of Drama, she was selected as a Clifton Visiting Artist at Harvard College and a Playwriting Fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies. Shamieh was named a UNESCO Young Artist for Intercultural Dialogue in 2011. Her works have been translated into seven languages.

Director: Tamilla Woodard is a theatre director working nationally and internationally. Currently, she is serving as the Artistic Director of The Five Boroughs/One City Project, a multiyear initiative of The Working Theater. She is co-founder of PopUp Theatrics, a partnership creating site specific and immersive productions and collaborations around the world. She is a recent Time Warner Directing Fellow at the Women’s Project Theater, a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, alumnus of The Lincoln Center Directors Lab and former Audrey Fellow at New Georges. She graduated from The Yale School of Drama’s Acting program and is the recipient of The Josephine Abady Award from The League of Professional Theatre Women and The Charles Bowden Award from New Dramatists.

Female Lead: Hatshepsut played by April Yvette Thompson

April Yvette Thompson is a Tony-winning producer/writer/actor working across media. Film/TV credits include Blue Caprice, Gotham, Blue Bloods, Babylon Fields, The Exonerated (w/Susan Sarandon & Delroy Lindo), Accidental Husband, Backwards, Babylon Fields, Law & Order & Third Watch, etc.

Broadway/Off Broadway credits include Clybourne Park, (Pulitzer & Tony); Vassar Voices (w/Meryl Streep), Good Bread Alley, Liberty City, The Exonerated (w/Gabriel Byrne, Richard Dreyfuss), Medea, King Lear, Macbeth, Antigone & Light Raise the Roof.

As SimonSays Entertainment Director of Development, April produced Sundance features: Blue Caprice (w/Isaiah Washington), Mother of George (w/Danai Gurira), Gun Hill Road (w/Esai Morales). April was on the Tony-winning producing team of Porgy & Bess starring Audra MacDonald (Tony).

April wrote/produced & starred in her Miami Trilogy of plays: Good Bread Alley & Liberty City (Drama Desk, Outer Critics, Lortel noms & Jeff Award) at New York Theatre Workshop, The Arsht, etc. Her latest play, Black Lives is in development at NYTW.

Education: Vassar College & Rutgers University

The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) is an American theatre company that tells stories as seen through the lens of the African diaspora and does work that honors the cultural legacy of the neighborhood in which it was founded.

CTH combines original adaptations, music, and dance to present great classics of world literature as well as contemporary works that will stand the test of time while being truly reflective of the diversity of ideas and racial tapestry that is America.

Connect with CTH on Twitter (@classicalharlem), Instagram (@classicalharlem), and Facebook (CTH Facebook).

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