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Griot Theatre Presents 'Julius Caesar,' With a Hint of 'Game of Thrones'

Shakespeare's Roman classic is reimagined with women playing non-traditional roles.

[The following information was taken from a press release for Griot Theatre].

Griot Theatre of the West Valley presents as its inaugural production, William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, directed by Malik B. El-Amin, produced by Sabah El-Amin and Malik B.

This re-imagining of the classic explores the notion, “What if the assassination of the world’s most powerful man were orchestrated and executed by a woman – in touch with her passions and certain of her destiny?”

This production is set against the backdrop of GAME OF THRONES, stories which ask a similar question. Employing women and artists of color in non-traditional roles, this production creates a fresh and compelling take on this classical work. 

ABOUT  Griot Theatre

Griot Theatre was founded in 2011 to create a professional resident company presenting live theatre in the West San Fernando Valley.  Griot (pronounced GREE-oh) is a term of French origin and is used throughout West Africa to describe a story teller who preserves the history and culture of a village or community. These story tellers keep an oral tradition which allows for the histories, myths and culture of a people to be passed on to each new generation.

It is this company’s mission to create a forum for professional theatre artists from under-represented groups - including women, artists of color and artists with physical disabilities - to interpret theatre in new ways with focus on the classics, established plays, and new plays. 

In addition, Griot Theatre is intent on making productions accessible to deaf and hard-of-hearing audiences with the use of captioning, sign language interpretation and "hearing loop" technology.

Julius Caesar is Griot Theatre’s inaugural production.

Production Team

Malik B. El-Amin (Director/Producer) MFA in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University.  Cincinnati Entertainment Award winner and LA Weekly Theater Award and NAACP Theatre Award nominee for A Lesson Before Dying.  Regional Credits:  Indiana Repertory Theatre, Penumbra Theatre, Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Commonwealth Shakespeare Festival, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, and Organic Theatre Company. LA Theatre: Actors Group Theatre, Pacific Resident Theatre, Stella Adler Theatre. Directing credits include the short films, The Week and Socialist Poker and the play A Woman Called Truth

Sabah El-Amin (Producer) BFA in Drama from New York University.  NAACP Theatre Award Winner for Sojourner.  Regional Credits:  45 Bleeker Theatre, Paul Robeson Theatre, P.S. 122, Nyuorican Poets Café, Tupukweli Theatre Company, New Perspectives Theatre Company.  LA Theatre:  Husdon Theatre, Donald B. Welch Production, The Lounge Theatre.  Film:  The Bus Stop.  TV:  Shameless, Southland.  Theatre Producing Credits:  Spilling Black Ink - NY, Tisch Actor’s West Monologue Slams 1 & 2 – LA,  House Rules – LA, Three Women. Three Ways. – LA, Daheli Live – LA.  Film Producing Credit:  The Bus Stop

www.SabahEl-Amin.com

Cast

Daniel Ball (Mark Antony) Trained at Circle in the Square.  Regional Credits:  Metropolitan Opera, Goodlight Theatre Company, Crescent Players, Hubbard Hall-Cambridge, Impact Theatre Company – Munich.  Films:  Seragnoli's W.A.R. Trilogy and Nick Peterson's experimental short Drained. www.dball.me

Cynthia Beckert (Cassius): MFA in Acting from UC Irvine; MA in Theatre from Florida State University; BA in Music from University of the South. REGIONAL: Alabama Shakespeare Festival, Georgia Shakespeare Festival, Brooklyn Stage Company, Orlando’s Theatre Downtown, Orlando Civic Theatre. LOS ANGELES: A Noise Within, Laguna Playhouse, Colony Theatre, Los Angeles Women’s Shakespeare Company, Pasadena Shakespeare Company, Mechanicals Theatre Group, Sacred Fools, Porters of Hellsgate, Rangeview Productions, West Coast Ensemble. TV: She Spies, Malcolm in the Middle, MadTV, Guilty or Innocent, I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, Mystery E.R. www.CynthiaBeckert.com

Antonio D. Charity (Julius Caesar) BFA in Theatre from Howard University.  Regional Credits:  Florida Studio Theatre, St. Luke’s Theatre, Playwrights Horizons, The Negro Ensemble Company, New Federal Theatre, the National Black Theatre, Billie Holiday Theatre. LA Theatre:  The Lillian Theatre, Beverly Hills Playhouse/Skylight Theatre.  FILM:  Carnal Innocence, The Corner, Hydra, The Salon, Something the Lord Made, It Runs in the Family.  TV:  Numb3rs, Law & Order SVU, Law & Order, Charmed, House, The Shield, As The World Turns, Law & Order, The Corner, The Wire, All My Children, Nip/Tuck, Something The Lord Made, True Blood, Southland, Medium, Bones, Sons of Anarchy and many more.

Devereau Chumrau (Metellus, Lucilius, Flavius, Servant 2) MFA in Acting at the FSU Asolo Conservatory in Sarasota, Fl.  Regional Credits:  Asolo Repertory, Barishnikiv RAIF:  LA Theatre:   Independent Shakespeare Company.  Member of 3 of A Kind Theatre Company in NoHo. www.devereauchumrau.com

Vincent J. Isaac ( Casca, Strato, Messenger) Drama Critic Circle Award winner for Distant Fires by Kevin Neely, Dramalogue Award winner, NAACP Award nominee.  LA theatre Credits:  Los Angeles Theatre Center, Crossroad Theatre, International City Theatre, Odyssey Theatre, Pan Andreas Theatre, Inner City Cultural Center.  Film: Five Heart Beats, Wildcats, St. Elmos Fire, Twilight Zone: The Movie, Kiss Me Goodbye, Best Friends, Firefox, Sid & Nancy, Dr. Detroit, Vice Squad, Savage Harvest and more.  TV: Frank's Place, What's Happening Now,  Cagney & Lacey, Night Court, The Fall Guy, Hill Street Blues, St. Elsewhere, Knots Landing, Roots II: The Next Generation to name a few.

Holiday Kinard (Calpurnia, Trebonius, Lepidus, Pindarus) BFA in Theatre from the University of Florida.  Studied at John Rosenfeld Studios and iO West.  Webseries Freelancers, That’s what She Said, Oppie’s Friend, Gene  Film:  Secretarial Wars.  Favorite Shakespeare credits include: Adriana in Comedy of Errors and Olivia in Twelfth Night.

Erica Mathlin (Portia, Messala, Servant 1, Cobbler) Studied acting at Arizona State University & Arizona Actors Academy.  Regional Theatre:  Arizona State University, New Carpa Theatre, Stray Cat Theatre, Vintage City Entertainment, portrayed Frida Kahlo in Frida! (Teatro Bravo), originated the role of Rosa in Don Coyote, (Arizona State University) in which she was the recipient of the Best in Festival Award at the American College Theatre Festival. Film:  It Is What It Is.  Webseries:  The Magickal.  TV: Life Alone

Kevin Nichols: (Decius, Titinius, Marullus) Studied acting at USCLA Theatre: A Raisin In The Sun - The Renaissance Project, In The Blood -  Edison Theatre, Transition - Sexson / Harbor Theatre and P.I.C. – 24th Street theatre.  Film: The Blindside, The Conspirator, Something is Killing Tate, S.E.R.E.  TV: The Shield, Vampire Diaries, Zoey 101.

Erica Peeples (Octavia, Lucius, Soothsayer) Graduate of The Juilliard School.  Regional Theatre:  Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at Berkeley Rep directed by Delroy Lindo,  A Raisin In The Sun at the  Weston Playhouse, Crippled Sisters at the New York Theatre Workshop and Drip a play by Christina Anderson at Ars Nova. Film Credits: Seven to the Palace and short film Fighter.  TV: Law & Order: Criminal Intent.

Jake Suffian (Brutus) MFA in Theatre Arts from Brandeis University.  Helen Hayes Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor in Richard Greenberg’s Take Me Out.  Regional Credits:  Lead in Tony Award winning director Mary Zimmerman’s national tour of Argonautika, Studio Theater-D.C, New Rep Theatre, Commonwealth Shakespeare Company, Irondale ensemble.  Self-produced and starred in the LA Weekly “GO!” production of the play K2.  Film Credits:  The Alpha System, Tick Tock, Finesse, What Comes Around and more. TV Credits:  Rescue Me, One Life to Live, All My Children, As the World Turns, ABC Primetime, Got Home Alive Empire.

Design Team

Kis Knekt (Set Design) M.F.A. in Design for Stage and Film from NYU - Tisch School of the Arts. After working for a decade in New York City as a freelance designer and assistant on Broadway, regional opera, network television and industrials, she relocated to Los Angeles where she has branched out to designing theme parks, events, retail interiors, illustration, and performing in a vocal jazz ensemble.  Her design credits include: Rock & Roll, Travesties, The Dead at the Open Fist Theatre, Baby it’s You! at the Coast Theater, The Birthday Present 2050 at the Skylight Theater, Animation Celebration for Universal Studios Japan, and Sony Playstation II’s debut at the E3 convention.  www.kisknekt.com.

Paul Sheargold (Co-Set Designer) is a Los Angeles based interior designer who began his theatrecareer in his native Australia working in the art department of the renown, Sydney Theatre Company. Since that time he has been involved with various film and theatre projects here and abroad working with people such as Megan Mullaly, Tori Spelling and Tyra Banks. His collaboration with Kis Knekt has spanned over a decade and include the shows 'Becoming Cuban', 'I Sing 4 Luv' and ‘Someone Who’ll Watch Over Me’. He has a rich history of creative endeavors from painting to singing and is currently developing a line of interior design products for men.

A. Jeffrey Schoenberg (Costume Designer) Ovation Award Winner for The Malcontent at Anteaus Company.  Recent designs include The SeagullKing Lear, and Tonight at 8:30, for Antaeus; Elmina’s Kitchen for Lower Depth Theatre Company; Moon Over BuffaloRoom ServiceTravesties, The Devils (Ovation winner),The Time of Your Life, and Threepenny Opera for the Open Fist Theater.  Other shows include Children of the Night for the Beverly Hills Playhouse, Bach at Leipzigfor the Odyssey Theater, and the NoHo Arts Center’s Elizabeth Rex (Ovation winner).  For the Colony Theater he has designed over 30 productions, includingDames at SeaFree Man of ColorCeledine, Side Show (Ovation winner), Trying, The Ladies of the Camellias, and The Laramie Project

Anna Cecelia Martín (Lighting Designer) MFA in Lighting Design at CalArts. B.A from Wesleyan University with a concentration in lighting and acting. Anna’s recent CalArts designs include Purgatory in Inglostadt, Prosper Springs, Life is a Dream, Cherry Jam, SUN: A Poem for Malcolm X, and The Opening Ceremony to the Wild Beast. She recently designed Cloud 9 with the Moving Art Collective at the Setkani Festival in Brno, Czech Republic. Anna toured with Look What I Don’t Understand to Armenia, New York, Chicago and LA. Anna recently assisted on broadway for Don Holder on Arcadia. She is currently working as an ALD for Thinkwell.

Julius Caesar at Bethel Encino, 17500 Burbank Blvd., Encino 91316. Preview on Thursday, October 4 at 8pm; opens:  Saturday, October 6 at 8pm (reception to follow). Runs: October 6 – November 11 (Dark 10/5, 10/19, & 11/2). For tickets, visit www.plays411.com/juliuscaesar. 

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