“American Griot,” a play that debuted at Moraine Valley Community College, has been selected for inclusion in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival Thursday, Jan. 9, and Friday, Jan. 10, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Exploring the shared history of Islam and the blues in Africa and America, the play was directed by Dr. Craig Rosen, theater professor and Academic Theater Program coordinator, and written by Reginald Edmund and Ronnie Malley, a Moraine Valley alumnus.
“American Griot” premiered at Moraine Valley in 2019 as part of the Mosaics: Muslim Voices in America project and was made possible in part by a grant from the Association of Performing Arts Professionals’ Building Bridges: Arts Culture and Identity, a component of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art with additional funding provided by the National Endowment for the Arts. This play is one of only six two- and four-year college productions selected from the four-state region to participate in this national theater festival.
This play is one of only six two- and four-year college productions selected from the four-state region to participate in this national theater festival.
“This is quite an honor,” Rosen said. “We’re thrilled for everyone involved. When we commissioned this play, we thought about entering it for consideration in the festival. Then, when we saw it lived up to everything we had hoped it would, we knew this show needed to be entered.” Rosen said this is the first full production the college has entered in nearly 20 years.
Rosen will direct the play in Madison and has reassembled the original cast substituting a few roles originally played by students who have graduated. Sean McIntosh, technical director for the college’s Fine and Performing Arts Center, and his crew will rebuild a portable version of the set to bring to Madison.
“The cast and crew are very excited about this opportunity to present this production to a larger audience,” said Dr. Lisa Kelsay, assistant dean of Liberal Arts and director of Academic Arts. “Dr. Rosen has done a fantastic job working with the students and staff, and we look forward to taking the show to Madison.”