When: Sept. 18-Oct. 6 2013
We tend to do this thing with heroes and martyrs. In celebrating their accomplishments and sacrifices, we forget about their flaws and quirks. We don't humanize, we lionize, until what's left are icons defined by their accomplishments rather than who they are. That's part of why people loved Steven Spielberg's Lincoln: It transformed the heroic figure into an oddball raconteur willing to play dirty to get things done.
In Katori Hall's The Mountaintop, which premiered in London in 2009 and went on to a Broadway run starring Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett, it's Martin Luther King Jr. who gets the warts-and-all treatment. It's April 3, 1968, at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, the night before King's assassination. King has just returned to his room after delivering his "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech at Mason Temple when he meets Camae, a young woman working as a maid at the motel, and the two forge a connection. The King in this play is a flirt who lies to his wife and smokes too much, a particularly timely and startling depiction coming on the heels of the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. PlayMakers Repertory and Triad Stage collaborate as co-producers for the first time with this regional premiere. —Emma D. Miller