Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience
February 3, 2018 @ 7:30 pm - 9:30 pm| Free
Saturday, February 3, 2018; 7PM – 8:30PM
Forest Lawn Memorial Park—Hollywood Hills
**** FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC ****
HOLLYWOOD HILLS, CA—To honor Black History Month, Forest Lawn Memorial Parks is proud to present A WordTheatre® Production of Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience, a one-night-only music and hip hop-infused performance of stories by one of the America’s premier writers of fiction that explore the promise and peril of the African-American experience. An impressive list of film and television actors, dancers and musicians will take to the stage to give voice and expression to Wideman’s survey of the complicated intersections of love, loss, race, politics, family and violence.
Wideman will be in attendance for the performance created, produced and directed by WordTheatre® Artistic Director Cedering Fox, with music and dancers from Culture Shock Los Angeles. Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience will feature more than a dozen actors, among them: Gina Torres (Suits, Firefly), Okieriete Onaodowan (Original Cast of Hamilton on Broadway, Grey’s Anatomy spin-off, Station 19), Marla Gibbs (The Jeffersons, 227, Blackish), Gary Dourdan (Mistresses, CSI), Brent Jennings (Moneyball, Witness), Dohn Norwood (The Sinner, Hell on Wheels), James Pickens Jr., (Grey’s Anatomy), Roger Guenveur Smith (Rodney King, The Birth of a Nation),Jahking Guillory (Dope, The Chi), Tracie Thoms (Rent, Cold Case), Glynn Turman (The Wire, House of Lies), with narration by Dave Fennoy (Hulu.com, When Earth Erupts).
Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience was created from Wideman’s 2010 book “Briefs: Stories for the Palm of the Mind,” a groundbreaking collection of 100 short stories that fuse memories, reflections and narrative. Ranging from a relief worker’s Sudan bulletin to a jogger’s bullet-dodging daydreams, and an absent mother’s regrets, the accounts span geographically from Darfur to Manhattan to Wideman’s hometown of Pittsburgh.
Wideman, 76, who will travel from his home in Manhattan, is the author of 21 highly distinguished works of fiction and nonfiction, the recipient of a MacArthur ’Genius Grant,’ a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, a Rhodes Scholar, the first two-time winner of the International PEN/Faulkner Award and a professor emeritus at Brown University. His numerous other awards and honors include the Rea and O. Henry Awards, the American Book Award for Fiction, the Lannan Literary Fellowship for Fiction and the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award. The New York Times named Wideman “one of America’s premier writers of fiction.” His 1984 memoir “Brothers and Keepers,” in which he traces the psychic toll of poverty on his family, contrasting his own experience – at the University of Pennsylvania on a basketball scholarship — with that of his younger brother Robby, who was sucked into a life of criminal activity, continues to receive acclaim.
Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience marks the third public performance of an original WordTheatre Production for Forest Lawn. Last year, the company performed another theatrical collage, A WordTheatre® Tribute to Langston Hughes: Stories, Poems, Jazz & the Blues, for a standing-room-only audience and rave responses in honor of Black History Month.
“We are proud to present once more the outstanding work of WordTheatre and their exceptional lineup of actors and musicians to celebrate the achievements and contributions that black Americans have played in our country’s history,” said Darin Drabing, Forest Lawn’s President and CEO. “Each year, our Black History Month commemorations are an important part of our ongoing commitment to our community to offer events and programs that engage, entertain and educate.”
Added WordTheatre’s Cedering Fox: “From the moment I got my hands on the galley for John Edgar Wideman’s ‘Briefs,’ I knew these powerful stories had to be brought to life on stage with actors, musicians and dancers. I have been honored to be working with John since 2008 and it is a privilege to be entrusted with his exquisite and provocative writing. These extraordinary artists and artists are equally committed to WordTheatre’s mission to sharing John Edgar Wideman’s work with the world.”
Wideman’s most recent book is nonfiction, the highly praised Writing to Save a Life: The Louis Till File. His highly anticipated new book American Histories will be published by longtime publisher Scribner in March 2018. His articles on Malcolm X, Spike Lee, Denzel Washington, Michael Jordan, Thelonious Monk, and women’s professional basketball have appeared in The New Yorker, Vogue, Esquire, Harpers, The Atlantic and The New York Times Magazine.
Witness: The John Edgar Wideman Experience takes place on Saturday, February 3, 2018, at 7PM, inside the Hall of Liberty at Forest Lawn— Hollywood Hills, 6300 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, 90068.
Admission and parking are FREE. Visit www.forestlawn.com for more information.
About Forest Lawn Memorial–Parks & Mortuaries
For more than a century, Forest Lawn has been an integral part of Southern California. Since its founding, Forest Lawn has committed itself to providing outstanding service and beautiful environments for family outings, remembering loved ones and commemorating holidays. Forest Lawn’s locations in the Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties serve all faiths and cultures, and offer a wide range of celebrations and special events with competitively priced cremation and traditional funeral services throughout Southern California. ForestLawn.com Hollywood Hills – FD 904
WordTheatre gives voice to great writing. Founded in 2003 by Artistic Director Cedering Fox, this internationally renowned, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization is dedicated to keeping language and literature alive through the age-old tradition of oral storytelling. WordTheatre creates and produces powerful and engaging performances, both live and recorded, featuring esteemed authors, actors and musicians, to ignite the imaginations of diverse audiences — from sophisticated cultural enthusiasts to underserved middle and high school students. Each WordTheatre production is crafted to illuminate great writing as well as our collective understanding of the human condition, to deepen our sense of community, and inspire empathy, curiosity, and conversation. www.WordTheatre.com