Black Caesar

February 22nd-April 1st

This world premiere production of acclaimed Chicago Playwright David Barr’s Black Caesar is an African-American adaptation of the Orson Wells film classic Citizen Kane. Black Caesar chronicles the life of C.J. Caesar; a black newspaper mogul who builds a media empire through playing the ‘race card’ and exacerbating racial tensions. Upon Caesar’s death, reporter T. Darryl Heggans, is assigned the task of piecing together who the real CJ Caesar was. Black Caesar explores the lives of the African-American elite and how even among our most noble leaders power can corrupt.

Artists

David Barr, III (Playwright) has been a playwright since his first full length work, The Death of the Black Jesus, was produced in 1986. The play received numerous awards and earned him a 1995 Illinois Arts Council Fellowship. Black Jesus was first produced at Kansas City, Missouri’s Unicorn Theatre and made its Windy City debut in 1996 at the Chicago Theatre Company. It was printed that same year by Dramatic Publishing Company.

David’s stage adaptation of the Walter Mosley novel, A Red Death had its world premiere in 1997, also at the Chicago Theatre Company. The play won the Edgar Allan Poe Award for Best New Play in 1998. His two-act drama Black Caesar, the story of a controversial African-American newspaper publisher, became the first piece published for the New Plays Series in PerformInk, Chicago’s foremost entertainment paper. He also received a second Illinois Arts Council Fellowship for Playwriting/ Screenwriting and won the Unicorn Theatre Company’s National Award for Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit, a musical about the legendary American contralto Marian Anderson. That project had its Chicago premiere in 2000 with Pegasus Players and is also published by Dramatic Publishing Company. In 1999, David was fortunate enough to have two more productions make their world premieres in Chicago. The first, The State of Mississippi vs. Emmett Till, was written with Mamie Till Mobley and based on the life and tragic death of her son Emmett Till. Working again with Pegasus Players, its production in 1999 won wide-ranging acclaim, both regionally and nationally.

David’s other 1999 premiere was a work he co-adapted entitled The Journal of Ordinary Thought. Drawn from poems and monologues by authentic inner-city voices, Journal was produced by the Chicago Theatre Company and was named one of the Best Plays of 1999 by both the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun-Times.

His latest plays include, The House that Rocked! and was based on the musical legacies of Fats Domino, Chuck Berry, and Little Richard. It completed a successful run at Chicago’s Black Ensemble Theatre. David’s most recent Chicago production, The Upper Room, premiered at Pegasus Players and it won the 2005 Joseph Jefferson Award for Best New Play. He is currently adapting Alex Kotlowitz’s award winning novel “There Are No Children Here” (for Pegasus Players) and Charles Johnson’s sweeping epic “Middle Passage” (Congo Square Theatre 2008). His next Chicagoland production will be Memphis Soul Stew: The Story of STAX Records (Black Ensemble—Winter 2007)

The JENA Company (New York, New York) produced his Civil Rights docudrama My Soul Is A Witness, where it completed two very successful national tours in 2005 and 2006. David’s most recent play with them is another theatrical docudrama titled Jackie, Vi, and Lena and is also produced by the JENA Company. Jackie, Vi, and Lena is also having a successful national tour throughout the first quarter of 2007.

David worked as a sports journalist/intern for the Daily Press-Virginian Pilot (Newport News, Virginia) during his college years. He also was a feature writer for Chicago’s own EM-EBONY Man Magazine from 1996-1998; a Johnson Publishing Company property. He has worked for EBONY Magazine since 1992 and was a consultant on the award-winning 2005 documentary Paper Trail: 100 Years of the Chicago Defender.

Ronald Conner (Theodore Travis) is a St. Louis native, currently residing in Chicago. He’s happy to be making his second appearance on Pegasus’ stage. Chicago credits include: Taming of the Shrew (Chicago Shakespeare), African Company Presents Richard III, and Deep Azure (Congo Square), Short Eyes (urban theatre company), and the 2005 Young Playwrights Festival (Pegasus Players). Other regional credits include: Macbeth, The River Niger, and Joe Turner’s come and Gone (St. Louis Black Repertory). “To all the African-American actors who paved the way, on your shoulders I stand.”

Willie B. Goodson (Solomon Conyers) is a native of Cleveland, Ohio (where he started his acting career at the Karamu House Theater). He was last see in Conversation on a Dirt Road at ETA. Other work includes Before It Hits Home and A Soldier’s Story (Congo Square); Father and Son Night, The Last Apple, Riffs, Dream of Ophelia and The Lifting (ETA); Wendell Greene (understudy), The Horn, and Master Harold and the Boys (Steppenwolf Studio); East Texas Hot Links and Sty of the Blind Pig (Onyx Theater); Of Mice and Men (Organic Theater); The State of Mississippi vs. Emmett Till and Bronzeville (Pegasus Players). TV work includes Angel Street and Early Edition. Movies include Barbershop and Dark. Mr. Goodson thanks his wife and family for their support and GOD for the talent and always love to Rian, Jazmyne, Angel, Korina, and Elijah.

Heather Ireland (Rena) is thrilled to be back with Pegasus after appearing here last season as Othellia Potts in BLACK CAESAR. She was most recently seen in Live Bait’s production of ESCAPE. Other stage credits include MPAACT, Healthworks, and Redmoon and understudying THE GIFT HORSE at The Goodman Theatre. Heather was featured in the independent film Love Shorts which garnered several awards at Black film fests across the country. She is the founder of The People’s Jazz Theatre, a non-profit that brings arts opportunities to children and their communities. Her children’s play, A MERMAID’S TALE was chosen to be read for Chicago Dramatists’ first ever Saturday series focusing on theatre for young audiences. She also wrote Aesop & The Fabulous Fable Sisters, which was produced by The University of Chicago Summer Camp. As an administrator, Heather managed arts community and education programs for The Chicago Park District, The Jazz Institute of Chicago, Marwen, Jazz Unites and currently After School Matters. Heather holds a Master of Fine Arts degree in Acting from Theatre School at DePaul University.

Denise Karczewski (Lighting Designer) is happy to be back at Pegasus with this production of Pantomime. Previous shows here include Still Life, Two Trains Running, The Upper Room, The Chicago Young Playwrights Festival, Broadway Bound, The One-Eyed Man is King and The Fantasticks. Other credits include A Chorus Line and Singin’ in the Rain for Theatre at the Center; Caught in the Net at Drury Lane Evergreen Park; and The Jackie Wilson Story for BET. Denise is currently the resident lighting designer for the Black Ensemble Theatre where she received a BTAA award for her design of Indigo Blues and an AAAA award for Ella: the First Lady of Song. She is the Assistant Technical Director at UIC Theatre.

Christopher Kriz (Sound Design) has recently designed sound for Pegasus productions of THE FROGS, BLACK CAESAR, PANTOMIME, STILL LIFE and TWO TRAINS RUNNING. Past Pegasus credits include sound design for THE UPPER ROOM, BROADWAY BOUND and AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW Other recent credits include sound design for A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and JOE TURNER’S COME AND GONE (Loyola Theatre). Selected past credits include sound design for TURN OF THE SCREW and LA VAGABONDE (City Lit Theatre),NELSON AND SIMONE (Live Bait Theater) and ANGELS IN AMERICA (Buffalo Theatre Ensemble).

Alex Levy (Director/Artistic Director) has been with Pegasus for over nine years. In that time he has directed several productions including Black Caesar, Still Life, The Upper Room (winner of the Joseph Jefferson Citation for “Best New Work”), Broadway Bound (Jeff nominated for four citations including “Best Production” and winner of the After Dark Award for “Best Ensemble”), The One-Eyed Man is King, Kid Kuisine, An Evening with the Living Dead, Waking Up, Portrait of an Exile, Insert Title Here and Free Will. He has also directed several of the Young Playwrights Festival touring productions. Since joining Pegasus, the theatre has won ten Joseph Jefferson Citations, seven After Dark Awards, and Pegasus became the first arts organization to win The Chicago Community Trust’s “James Brown IV” award (which included a $50,000 grant) and the City of Chicago’s “Human Relations Award.” Alex has led Pegasus on international tours in 20 and 2002 through the Middle East sponsored by The United States State Department. He was chosen to serve on the Theatre Communications Group’s Literary Manager’s advisory panel in New York and to serve as entertainment coordinator by the alderman for the “Uptown Unity Festival.” He has also worked with Smoke and Mirrors, Chicago Dramatists, Theatre Building Chicago, Oakton College, Loyola University, The Studio Theatre in Washington D.C. and Geva Theatre in Rochester, N.Y.

Jack Magaw (Scenic Designer) Jack works as a professional scenic and lighting designer and also teaches design at The Theatre School of DePaul University in Chicago. Recent design credits include Red Herring and Tom, Dick & Harry at Peninsula Players, Loving Repeating directed by Frank Galati for About Face Theatre, Julius Caesar for Illinois Shakespeare Festival, The Illusion at Berkshire Theatre Festival, Our Town and Topdog/Underdog, at Madison Repertory Theatre, Lettice and Lovage and Fences at Court Theatre, and Steppenwolf Theatre’s production of The Fall to Earth as well as The Chosen and Bus Stop at Writers’ Theatre, Grace at Northlight Theatre and Two Trains Running for Pegasus Players for which he was awarded a Jeff Citation. He received a Joseph Jefferson Award nomination and a Black Theatre Alliance Award for his design of Congo Square Theatre’s production of Seven Guitars and an Outstanding Season After Dark Award in recognition of his work over the 2004-05 season. Upcoming projects include Anna Christie at Madison Repertory Theatre and Frozen at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre.

Christine Pascual (Costume Designer) is delighted to be back at Pegasus Players for Young Playwrights Festival 2007. Previously at Pegasus, she designed costumes for Two Trains Running. Recent design credits include The African Company Presents Richard III,Stickfly and Seven Guitars for Congo Square, Elliot A Soldier’s Fugue a co-production with Teatro Vista, Rivendell and Steppenwolf Theatre, Another Part of the House, Blind Mouth Singing, Living Out for Teatro Vista. Other theaters she has designed for include Victory Gardens, American Theater Company, Timeline Theatre, Apple Tree Theatre, A Red Orchid, Goodman Theatre, Onyx Theatre, Lifeline Theatre, Steppenwolf Theatre, Next Theatre and Defiant Theatre. She received a Black Theater Alliance Award for Best Costume Design for Seven Guitars. Upcoming projects include Flyin’ West for Court Theatre, Joe Turner’s Come and Gone and Massacre at the Goodman. For more information go to www.ChristinePascual.com.

Ron Quade (Moyshe Litrofsky) is new to Pegasus, but not new to the Chicago Theatre scene having appeared at Chicago Dramatists in Grande Hysterie, Voyeurs de Venus, and The Prophet of Bishop Hill. He has appeared in nine shows at Raven Theatre including A Few Good Men, A Hat Full of Rain, Social Security, A View from the Bridge, A Streetcar Named Desire, Golden Boy, You Can’t Take It With You, and others. Ron has also appeared in Pyewacket’s The Conversation. Ron is a Texas native, but now considers Chicago his home base.

André Teamer (T. Darryl Heggans) “I’m back!” André had a wonderful time on the Island of Tobago portraying Jackson Phillip in this season’s inaugural show Pantomime and is pleased to once again collaborate with David Barr and Alex Levy in Black Caesar. Other Pegasus Players credits include; Wolf, everybody’s friendly numbers runner, in last season’s critically acclaimed, multi-nominated Two Trains Running, Jerome in Breath, Boom, and John Biggers in The Upper Room. He is an artistic associate with MPAACT (Ma’at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre). His MPAACT credits include; Joe in Kiwi Black (North Park University), Ashen in Kosi-Dasa, Red in Fascia, Josiah in The Glow of Reflected Light, and Big Time in Relevant Hearsay… (Theater on the Lake). He has been blessed with the opportunity to work with other Chicago area theater companies such as Famous Door, Red Hen, ETA, Chicago Shakespeare, Black Ensemble, Steppenwolf, TimeLine, Bowen Park, Victory Gardens, Chicago Actors Ensemble, Chicago Children’s Theatre, Congo Square, The Hypocrites, Chocolate Chips, Apple Tree, Attic Playhouse, The Viaduct, Stage Left, Chicago Dramatists, and Urban Underground Media. “Many thanks to the Creator for all things. To my wife, and three sons for the love and support that helps to keep me going. I would like to especially dedicate my performance to the memory of John Crewdson and to extend my love and support to the Crewdson Family.”

Sandra Watson (Kasha Conyers Caesar) is pleased to return and to work with Pegasus Players and David Barr once again. A couple of her previous productions were the premier of An Unobstructed View and the historical production of The State of Mississippi and the Face of Emmett Till. Sandra has worked with many theater companies around Chicago including Bailiwick Repertory, Illinois Theater Center, Organic Theater, Steppenwolf, National Pastime and Chicago Theater Company (Shakin’ the Mess Outta Misery (Jeff & BTAA nominated Best Production); Do Lord Remember Me (Jeff Award: Production). Thanks to God for many blessings. Much love to family, friends, cast and crew.

Alfred H. Wilson (Becker) is happy to be working with Pegusas Players once again. His last Pegasus production was BLACK CAESAR written by David Barr. Other Pegasus productions: August Wilson’s TWO TRAINS RUNNING, for which he received a Jeff Citation and AN UNOBSTRUCTED VIEW by Alex Kotlowitz.