Featuring Johnny Lee Davenport (The Whipping Man) as Justice Thurgood Marshall, the first African-American to sit on the Supreme Court, Thurgood spans Marshall’s impressive career as a lawyer, arguing such landmark cases as Brown v. Board of Education. Presented during the final month of the Obama Administration, Thurgood is a tribute to Marshall’s enduring legacy.
JOHNNY LEE DAVENPORT* (Thurgood Marshall, Thurgood) returns to New Repertory Theatre after performing in The Whipping Man and A House with No Walls. Other area credits include The Unbleached American (Stoneham Theatre); It’s A Wonderful Life, A Radio Play (Wheelock Family Theatre); Water by the Spoonful and Broke-ology/Elliot Norton Award, Best Actor (The Lyric Stage Company); Driving Miss Daisy and Master Harold…and the Boys (Gloucester Stage Company); and Invisible Man/Helen Hayes Award, Best Ensemble (Studio Theatre Washington, D.C. and The Huntington Theatre Company). Mr. Davenport has played more than 50 roles in 24 of Shakespeare’s plays including Richard III (Commonwealth Shakespeare Company); Pericles (Actors’ Shakespeare Project); and Richard II (Shakespeare & Company). Film credits include Ted, The Fugitive, U.S. Marshals, and Ascendants. He was named Best Actor in Boston Magazine (2011). johnnyleedavenport.com
GEORGE STEVENS, JR. (Playwright, Thurgood) George Stevens, Jr’s interest in Thurgood Marshall began with a miniseries he wrote and directed, Separate But Equal, the story of the Brown vs. Board of Education school desegregation case on which Marshall was the lawyer for the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. Thurgood is his first play. Stevens is the founder of the American Film Institute and a writer, director, and producer. Motion pictures: The Thin Red Line; George Stevens: A Filmmaker’s Journey; John F. Kennedy: Years of Lightning, Day of Drums; The Diary of Anne Frank. Television: Separate But Equal (Sidney Poitier , Burt Lancaster), The Murder of Mary Phagan (Jack Lemmon, Peter Gallagher, Kevin Spacey), The Kennedy Center Honors (1978 – 2007), The American Film Institute Life Achievement Awards (1973 – 1998), America’s Millennium, D-Day to Berlin. Alfred A. Knopf recently published his book, Conversations With the Great Moviemakers of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Awards include eight awards from the Writers Guild of America, two George Foster Peabody Awards, and two Emmys.
BENNY SATO AMBUSH (Director, Thurgood) returns to New Repertory Theatre after directing The Whipping Man. He is the Senior Distinguished Producing Director-In-Residence, Department of Performing Arts at Emerson College, is on the Executive Committee for the National Alliance of Acting Teachers, and has directed numerous productions throughout the nation’s professional regional theatres. Boston area credits include When January Feels Like Summer (Underground Railway Theater); Lettice and Lovage, Driving Miss Daisy, and MASTER HAROLD…and the Boys (Gloucester Stage Company); Tough Titty (American Repertory Theater Institute); The Story (Harvard University Office of the Arts); Broke-ology (Lyric Stage Company); Black Pearl Sings! (Merrimack Repertory Theatre); No Parking, and A Ballad for Peggy (Boston Theatre Marathon); O Beautiful, Anything To Declare?, Fathers and Sons, Tartuffe, Twilight: Los Angeles, 1992, The Golden Age, and Incorruptible (Emerson Stage).
RYAN BATES (Scenic Designer, Thurgood and Brecht on Brecht) returns to New Repertory Theatre after managing props on Fiddler on the Roof and Good and designing The Testament of Mary, Via Dolorosa, and The Snow Queen. Recent scenic design credits include Blasted (Off the Grid Theatre Company); The Last Five Years (Arts After Hours); The Launch Prize (Bridge Repertory Theatre); That Time the House Burned Down (Fresh Ink); Academy Fight Song (Centastage); A Visit with Marie Curie (Parity Productions); Angels in America (Boston University Opera Institute); 4000 Miles and Jacques Brel is Alive and Well and Living in Paris (Gloucester Stage Company); Big Love and Pacific Overtures (Boston University School of Theatre). Mr. Bates received his MFA in Scenic Design from Boston University and a BA in Theatre and Art History from Middlebury College. Originally from Danvers, he currently resides in Brighton. Upcoming projects include Dear Elizabeth and Melancholy Play (The Umbrella).
BRIDGET K. DOYLE (Lighting Designer, Thurgood and Brecht on Brecht) returns to New Repertory Theatre after designing Good and Baltimore. Previous design credits include The Birds and the Bees (Sleeping Weazel); Don’t Ask Me (Concord Academy); Aurora Borealis, Rosmersholm, Rabbit Hole, and Vinkensport (Boston University); Twelfth Night and Metamorphoses (Gordon College); Cabaret and Dog Sees God (Salem State University); A Behanding in Spokane and Betrothed (Wellfleet Harbor Actors Theater). Assistant design credits include The Merry Widow and Greek (Boston Lyric Opera); Can You Forgive Her? (Huntington Theatre Company); Saturday Night Fever, Dreamgirls, Les Miserables, and Chicago (North Shore Music Theatre). She earned her Associate’s Degree from Cape Cod Community College, BFA from Salem State University, and is now pursuing her MFA at Boston University. Ms. Doyle will next design Labyrinth of Desire at Boston University. Originally from the Cape, she now resides in Somerville.
Composer & Sound Designer
DEWEY DELLAY (Composer & Sound Designer, Thurgood) returns to New Repertory Theatre after composing and designing The Testament of Mary, Via Dolorosa, The Whipping Man, Rancho Mirage, and Long Day’s Journey into Night. Other credits include Duet (Greenwich Street Theatre, Off Broadway); The Countess (Criterion, London’s West End); and Casa Valentina (SpeakEasy Stage Company). He received an Elliot Norton award for Outstanding Design for his music and sound design and an IRNE Award for Best Sound Design. Television credits include compositions for national commercials and the Emmy-nominated China’s Mystery Mummies (National Geographic). He was the composer for five seasons of Our America with Lisa Ling (Oprah Winfrey Network) and is now contributing music to This is Life with Lisa Ling (CNN).
Performance Stage Manager
BECCA FREIFELD* (Performance Stage Manager, Thurgood) returns to New Repertory Theatre after serving as Assistant Stage Manager on Fiddler on the Roof, and Good and Production Assistant on Freud’s Last Session, The Testament of Mary, The Snow Queen, A Number, Broken Glass, Scenes From an Adultery, The King of Second Avenue, and Closer Than Ever. Other area stage management credits include Shoes On, Shoes Off (Brandeis Department of Theater Arts); Romeo & Juliet and Evil Dead: the Musical (Arts After Hours); Hamlet (Wax Wings Productions); Bully Dance (Argos Productions); and Hamlet (Bay Colony Shakespeare Company). Ms. Freifeld is a graduate of Brandeis University, and currently resides in Newtonville.
Rehearsal Stage Manager
JACLYN FULTON* (Rehearsal Stage Manager, Thurgood) returns to New Repertory Theatre after stage managing Good. Recent local credits include WUNDER, What Moves You?, and Gym Dances (Harvard Dance Program); Il Campanello, L’amico Fritz, and Martha (Boston Midsummer Opera); Barefoot in the Park (Moonbox Productions); and West Side Story (Fiddlehead Theatre Company). Regional credits include festival seasons with Sarasota Opera and Opera Theatre of Saint Louis. Jaclyn is a proud graduate of Boston University’s School of Theatre where she received the Sidney Friedman Prize. This January, Ms. Fulton will return to Sarasota as Assistant Stage Manager. She is a native Bostonian and currently resides in Jamaica Plain.
*member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional Actors and Stage Managers in the United States
◊ member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society
“Davenport has the kind of ineffable stage presence that can’t be adequately described but needs to be experienced…. [A] passionate portrayal… the actor thoroughly inhabits the character of Marshall.”
“As you watch this piece, and you understand what Thurgood Marshall did and what he experienced, you can’t help but tie it to our times today.”
“There is much in the script that resonates in the racial, social, and political zeitgeist of 2017… Thurgood serves as a powerful reminder that one man can make a difference.”
“Johnny Lee Davenport delivers a commanding, compelling portrait of the first African-American to serve as a justice on the United States Supreme Court.”
Free and open to the public! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your complimentary spot!
The following performances are followed by a talkback discussion with members of the cast and New Rep staff:
Sunday 1/15, 2pm
Sunday 1/15, 7:30pm
Thursday 1/19, 7:30pm
Sunday 1/22, 2pm
Thursday 1/26, 2pm
Sunday 1/29, 2pm
Professor Meltsner was first assistant counsel to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund in the 1960s and served as dean of the law school from 1979 until 1984. His memoir, The Making of a Civil Rights Lawyer, was published in 2006 (University of Virginia Press). Among his other writings are: Cruel and Unusual: The Supreme Court and Capital Punishment; Public Interest Advocacy; Reflections on Clinical Legal Education; and Short Takes, a novel. His most recent book, Rape, Race and Injustice tells the story of a group of law students sent secretly to the South during the 1960s to collect proof of discrimination. His 2011 play “In Our Name: A Play of the Torture Years” has been performed in New York and Boston to great acclaim.
In 1977, Professor Meltsner, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist, was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship. He has served as a consultant to the US Department of Justice, the Ford Foundation and the Legal Action Center and has lectured in Canada, Egypt, Germany, India,the Netherlands and South Africa. In 2000, he was named a fellow of the American Academy in Berlin and conducted research on German constitutional law. He returned to the School of Law in 2005 after five years as a visiting professor and director of the First-Year Lawyering Program at Harvard Law School. In 2010, he received the Hugo Bedau Award for excellence in death penalty scholarship. In 2012, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by John Jay College (CUNY) and described as the “principal architect of the death penalty abolition movement” in the United States.
Professor Meltsner is currently teaching a seminar on constitutional litigation and a course on the law governing freedom of speech. He is a regular contributor to the press on a range of legal topics.