Fund for New American Plays

Ascension Day

The Working Theatre, New York, NY

Ascension Day tells the story of the Nat Turner slave rebellion in 1831. Based on the original confessions of Nat Turner, Ascension Day depicts the evolution of Turner from a docile, well-kept slave to a rebellious, vengeance-seeking man. The impetus of his evolution is his conversion from the peace of the New Testament to the wrath of the Old Testament; from martyr-saint to an avenging angel. His spiritual evolution culminates in his physical evolution that begins the rebellion and the vain fight to free the slaves from their bondage. Without judging either the actions of Turner in the name of freedom or his spiritual rationalizations, Ascension Day is an optimistic exploration of the revolutionary spirit and its unquenchable thirst.

Michael Henry Brown was born in the Bronx, and graduated with honors from Lehman College with two fellowships and two awards. Mr. Brown received an MFA from the Columbia University School of the Arts, Hammerstein Center for Theatre Studies. He has written 15 plays, including Generations of the Dead or Into the Abyss of Coney Island Madness, which was produced at the Long Wharf Theatre and ran at the Penumbra in Minnesota in 1996. He has also had workshop productions at the Mark Taper Forum and the Ensemble Studio Theatre. He was recently commissioned by the Ensemble Studio Theatre to write a play about the abolitionist John Brown. A member of New Dramatists and the Ensemble Studio Theatre, he wrote Ascension Day under the Kennedy Center's Jack Morrison Fellowship, which enabled him to attend the Shenandoah Playwrights Retreat in Staunton, Virginia. Mr. Brown has received grants from the New York Foundation for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. He is currently co-creating and writing the series Shelton Avenue with HBO and Elsboy Productions. The workshop production of The Day the Bronx Died will be produced at the Long Wharf Theatre in March 1997. Mr. Brown has recently received a grant from the Charles Revson Foundation to write a play for Playwrights Horizons.

Director: L. Kenneth Richardson
Set Designer: Tavia Ito
Lighting Designer: R. Stephen Hoyes
Costume Designer:
Lance Kenton
Sound Designer: Rob Gorton
Music: Olu Dara
Featured Performers: Michael Beach, Jesse Bernstein, Betty K. Bynum, Matthew C. Cowles, Andre De Shields, Arthur French, Jack Gwaltney, Novella Nelson, Collenn Quinn, Ving Rhames, Jeremy Stuart, Earl Whitted, Rozwill Young
Running Dates: February 5-March 8, 1992

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