Samm-Art Williams’ play ‘Home’ to be read nationwide on Monday

Samm-Art Williams’ play ‘Home’ to be read  nationwide on Monday
June 11
00:00 2015

In photo above: Playwright Samm-Art Williams

Playwright to be in Winston-Salem for reading

Special to The Chronicle

Project1VOICE, a national organization whose mission is to strengthen and promote African-American theater and playwrights, will present staged readings of “Home” by Samm-Art Williams of North Carolina to honor the 35th anniversary year of the play’s Broadway debut.

The North Carolina Black Repertory Company, 610 Coliseum Drive, Suite 1, in Winston-Salem, will participate in the staged readings on Monday, June 15. Call 336-723-2266 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for more information, or email Williams will be present at the reading in Winston-Salem.

The fifth annual 1VOICE/1PLAY/1DAY event will also commemorate another milestone — this one in civil rights — the 150th anniversary of the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This amendment ended slavery and involuntary servitude in America, officially making the United States of America home for any then-enslaved persons and their descendants.

This international theater experience, including over 30 black theaters, museums and diverse institutions throughout the world, will feature prominent actors including Negro Ensemble Company (NEC) alums and local enthusiasts.

Many NEC alums will return to their HOME-towns to participate in what Project1VOICE refers to as HOME-comings. These events will explore the meaning of home —Is it a place, a state of mind or both? The readings will be followed by a panel discussion with Negro Ensemble Company alumni and enthusiasts in select cities.

“Home” received great acclaim at NEC in 1979, transferring to Broadway’s Cort Theatre on May 7, 1980. The original cast starred Charles Brown, L. Scott Caldwell and Michele Shay with direction by NEC co-founder Douglas Turner Ward. The play ran for 278 performances.

About “Home”
“Home” is a brilliantly inventive, lyrically expressive play deals joyfully with the coming of age of a young black man from rural South Carolina. The action begins on the small farm in South Carolina that Cephus Miles, an orphan, has inherited from his family. Young and strong, he is content to work the land — until his childhood sweetheart rejects him and goes off to college. Not believing in the Vietnam War, Cephus is imprisoned as a draft evader for refusing to serve. By the time he is released, Cephus has lost his land to the tax collector so he heads north to build a new life. With a good job and a slinky new girlfriend, he finds the big city exciting and rewarding. But soon after, the dream begins to fade—Cephus loses his job and becomes involved in drugs and prostitution. Pulling himself together, he returns to South Carolina and settles back on the land with his old sweetheart. Despite all, he has never lost his joyous goodwill, his indomitable spirit and the conviction that one day his quest for fulfillment will be rewarded

About the playwright Samm-Art Williams
Samm-Art Williams was born in Burgaw, North Carolina. He is an American playwright and screenwriter, and a stage and film/TV actor. He entered New York City theater as an actor in 1973, performing with New York’s famed Negro Ensemble Company. Much of his work as writer concerns the African-American experience. He was nominated for a Tony Award and a Drama Desk Award for his play Home (1979), which moved from the Negro Ensemble Company to a Broadway production in 1980. Among his television credits Williams wrote the PBS productions Kneeslappers and Experiment in Freedom; episodes for the series Cagney and Lacey, The New Mike Hammer, Miami Vice and The Fresh Prince of Bel Air and the NBC special Motown Returns to the Apollo (1986), among other work. He received two Emmy nominations for his work for TV series. Among his other plays are The Dance on Widows’ Row, The Waiting Room and Montford Point Marin.

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