His story has been framed by the media for decades. At one time he was one of the most controversial figures in sports and entertainment. April 26 and April 27, Mike Tyson brings his one man autobiographical show Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth to the Warner Theatre. Directed by Spike Lee the performance is described as a rare, personal look inside the life and mind of one of the most feared men ever to wear the heavyweight crown. From the streets, to the boxing ring, film, television and now the stage, Iron Mike Tyson is finally telling his story in his own words.
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This year, February is a month to explore and enjoy dance for arts lovers in the Washington. Friday, February 1 Ron K. Brown brings his Brooklyn-based dance company Evidence back to George Washington University’s Lisner Auditorium for a program that includes On Earth Together, comprised of Stevie Wonder songs. February 5 – February 10, now under the direction of Robert Battle, America’s cultural ambassador to the world, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Kennedy Center for its annual engagement featuring a combination of captivating new work and enduring classics. And not to be missed is the area debut of a new collaboration between choreographer Bill T. Jones and SITI Company’s Anne Bogart. In A Rite, these two artists have deconstructed the original score of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring to create a provocative meditation on the power of singular new works of art to alter the way we think.
The National Symphony Orchestra (NSO) is making U Street, Howard University, Shaw, and Logan Circle the focus of its free community engagement activities in January 2013. Between January 8 and 14, members of the NSO are breaking into small ensembles to perform chamber music and educational activities as requested by community organizations. The NSO has worked with approximately 20 partners in these communities, and has agreed to fulfill more than 30 activities requested by the neighborhoods. Venues include the Lincoln Theater, Florida Avenue Baptist Church, Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, Whole Foods and Dahlak Eritrean Restaurant.
The culminating event in the will be a concert by the full NSO at Howard University’s Cramton Auditorium, January 14, at 7 p.m. which will be led by NSO Music Director Christoph Eschenbach and NSO Principal Pops Conductor Steven Reineke. The celebrated soprano Jessye Norman, a graduate of Howard University, will perform, and the program will include the Washington premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia No. 4, co-commissioned by the NSO. Events are free but some do require registration in advance. View the full schedule here.
The fall 2012 arts season will bring a breath of fresh air to the Washington theater community, and also a number of works featuring African American actors. With a mixture of dramas and musicals, familiar favorites and new work, offerings that appeal to old and young, several theaters are offering five very good reasons to visit them during the first half of their season.
Ralph Ellison’s groundbreaking novel that shined a penetrating light on race in America, Invisible Man, first published in 1952, has been adapted for the stage by Oren Jacoby and opens September 5 at the Studio Theatre. The show was first mounted last season at the Court Theatre in Chicago receiving tremendous praise and attention from audiences and became the highest grossing drama in that theaters history. The Studio Theatre production is the Washington area’s premier and is being directed by Christopher McElroen, a co-founder of the Classical Theatre of Harlem.
In late September Fly, written by Trey Ellis and Ricardo Khan lands on the stage of Ford’s Theater. Directed by Mr. Khan, Fly explores the lives of four Tuskegee Airmen that helped to break barriers of segregation in the United States military during World War II. Fly is the second in a series of productions being presented through the Lincoln Legacy Project, an initiative by Ford’s Theater to use the stage in fostering dialogue around the issues of tolerance, equality and acceptance.
As the holiday season approaches, the musical reigns supreme. Arena Stage makes your foot tap and soul sing with the world premier of Pullman Porter Blues, written by Cheryl L. West, who also wrote Before It Hits Home, Jar the Floor and Holiday Heart. In Pullman Porter Blues three generations of men from the Sykes family are all porters on a train heading from Chicago to New Orleans in June 1937 and the audience gets to take that ride with them on a journey through conversations about race, hope and reality, laced with 14 original and classic blues songs.
The Broadway musical that made stars out of Jennifer Holiday, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Loretta Devine and an Oscar winner of Jennifer Hudson, for her film portrayal of Effie White, Dreamgirls comes to the Signature Theatre in November. An exciting score that everyone can sing along to with characters in search of success and love that everyone can relate to, Dreamgirls is an American theater jewel that always shines.
And because theater is truly for everyone, children can’t be left out. Imagination Stage’s popular production of P.Nokio: A Hip-Hop Musical will run again from September 29 – October 18. A modern take on the tale of Pinocchio with a hip-hop twist, P. Nokio learns the power of truth. Through fun music, rhymes and dance it is an incredible lesson any kid can cheer about and it is a great introduction to the theater for young arts lovers in the making.
The first sub-Saharan African to hold the position of Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan has led an extraordinary life of service to the global community. Wednesday, September 5 at 7:00pm at the Sixth and I Synagogue he will share some of his experiences and knowledge that he has memorialized in his new book, Interventions: A Life in War and Peace in conversation with David Ignatius. Immediately following Mr. Annan will sign books for a limited period of time. A single ticket for the event is $36 and includes one book. Two guests may attend for $45 and receive one book. This signing is being presented in collaboration with Politics & Prose. There will be no walk-up box office sales.
Thursday September 20 at 7:30pm international recording artist, actor and activist Wyclef will also appear in conversation at Sixth and I promoting his memoir Purpose: An Immigrant’s Story. His Washington stop on the book tour is one of the very few in which he will also perform a set of his latest music before signing books. Tickets are $35 and include 1 copy of the book. Doors for this event open at 6:30pm.
There is no place like home and Step Afrika!, DC’s renowned dance company is proving that to local audiences during its annual Home Performance Series through Sunday July 1 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. This year, Step Afrika! is using this showcase to show off its world premiere of nxt/step, an all new production that remixes the power and international influence of stepping with hip hop, multimedia and rhythm. The show highlights the very best of the artistic and athletic company, which includes the striking finesse of Andrew Vinson Jr.
This year’s Smithsonian Folklife Festival kicks off with the free “Bring Back the Funk” concert presented by The National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall, Wednesday, June 27, from 6 pm to 9 pm in the Festival’s “Panorama Room” performance tent between 12th and 14th Streets. “Bring Back the Funk” will open the Folklife Festival’s evening concert series and will take place within view of the future site of the museum. Music legend George Clinton will be joined by Meshell Ndegeocello, Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk. Tom Joyner who will serve as emcee for this summer spectacular. The concert is part of a year-long series of events celebrating the groundbreaking of The National Museum of African American History and Culture and Black Music Month.
Abbi Crutchfield is heading back to Washington, DC. The first time she came to the District she was all about hitting the books. A native of Indiana, she lived in Washington for several years while earning her degree foreign service from Georgetown University. Now she is coming to DC because she and a group of other up and coming female comedians have been booked for a show Sunday June 24 at the Busboys and Poets at 5th and K Street, NW as part of their Pink Collar Comedy Tour.
Q: Before performing as a standup comedian what were you doing?
A: I worked as an office temp throughout Manhattan, an internal auditor at Bear Stearns and an executive assistant at American Express before I finally became a full-time comic. I saved money to move to The Big Apple by working part-time (simultaneously) as a substitute teacher, cocktail waitress, restaurant server and a dinner theater actress. Every week day was devoted to public service. So in a way I was using my degree.
Q: What made you make the switch from that to pursuing comedy full time?
A: I planned to be a comedian when I left college. The other jobs I worked were a means to reach that goal.
Q: What makes the Pink Collar Comedy Tour special/different?
A: The term “Pink Collar” refers to low-status wage work for women. One of the common themes that unites all of the performers is our rejection of an unsatisfying 9-5 lifestyle. But there’s more to the show than tales of office life. We are four different voices speaking to our experiences as comedians, women, friends, failed baristas, reluctant bridesmaids, disgruntled humanitarians and irreverent pranksters.
Q: Did you ever think on graduation day from Georgetown that you’d return to Washington as a comedienne?
A: Ever since I saw GU alum Mike Birbiglia perform at Gaston Hall I plotted to return to campus as a professional comedian to do the same.
Q: Describe your brand of wit.
A: My sense of humor errs on the fun, relatable side. My earliest comedic influences were Ellen DeGeneres and Sinbad, before we stopped getting free HBO.
Q: The funniest thing about Washington is?
A: The best thing about Washington, DC is that it has been affectionately dubbed, “Chocolate City,” a nickname I love so much I use it to describe every town I play. Including Farmersburg, IN where all residents look like the cast from American Chopper.
This week a treasured venue of Washington, DC cultural life will re-open its doors after a $29 million dollar renovation. The stage of the historic Howard Theatre where the careers of Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Marvin Gaye and many others were launched has been restored her glory. It is only fitting that the new generation of performers who will be presented at the venue are direct descendants of such legacy. Acts booked in coming weeks include Wale, Chaka Khan, Yaasin Bey and The Roots.
As important as the music being performed in the venue is the fine detail in the resurrection of the external façade of the building and the newly unveiled statue of Duke Ellington that sits outside. The statue is a captures the spirit of the most remarkable cultural ambassador and favorite son of the District. Inside and out the Howard Theatre gives Washingtonians an opportunity to pay homage to the music of yesterday and the artists of today.
No one on this planet does it like he does and soon he’ll be back in DC doing it again. Saturday, March 31 at 8:00pm at the Warner Theater Savion Glover will be doing a special, one-night only performance. Glover is a world-renowned hoofer –star of Broadway’s Bring in ‘Da Noise, Bring in ‘Da Funk and the film Happy Feet. He will present an evening inspired by song and interpreted through his innovative rhythms of footwork.