Sidney Poitier’s life story to be a new Broadway play
By Charles Randolph-Wright
Based on The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier
Directed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson
The legendary life of Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, activist and human-rights trailblazer Sidney Poitier set to be a new Broadway play produced by Ron Gillyard (Born for This, Mr. Soul); Poitier’s daughter, filmmaker Anika Poitier; and Barry Krost.
Chosen by the Poitier family, Charles Randolph-Wright (author of Blue, director of Roundabout Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed revival of Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind, and the upcoming American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words) has penned SIDNEY, based on Poitier’s best-selling autobiography The Measure of a Man.
The family has also selected Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (author, director and star of Lackawanna Blues, director of the Tony-winning Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s Jitney, director of the upcoming Broadway premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew) to direct.
SIDNEY dramatizes Mr. Poitier’s life, from his upbringing on Cat Island in the Bahamas to his rise to become America’s most revered actor and activist. With his unique career, Sidney Poitier helped change many racial attitudes that had persisted in this country for centuries. He built the bridges and opened the doors for countless artists in succeeding generations. He is an actor who stood for hope, for excellence, and who has given happiness to millions of people around the world. Paying tribute to Sidney Poitier in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He is a man of great depth, a man of great social concern, a man who is dedicated to human rights and freedom.” The play explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, pride and humility and the price for artistic integrity. Poitier has inspired many artists in multiple fields including encouraging Alice Childress to begin writing when they were both members at American Negro Theatre.
Playwright Charles Randoph-Wright says, “The first time I met Sidney Poitier was decades ago when he saw a show I co-wrote and directed in Los Angeles. We went to dinner and I literally could not speak. He said to me, ‘If in any way I have inspired you, you have more than paid me back with what I saw this evening.’ I have held onto those words my entire career. And now to place his astonishing life on stage is the ultimate challenge and the ultimate joy. To have the trust of Mr. Poitier and his family is one of the greatest gifts I have been given – what an honor to get to dramatize the true measure of this monumental man. I look forward to the world discovering the astounding person that is behind one of our most prodigious heroes, a man who continues to inspire.”
Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson says, “Sir Sidney Poitier is clearly one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. His integrity and standard of excellence set the bar for generations to come. It is an honor to be a part of celebrating the incomparable Sidney Poitier’s monumental career in this play but also the man and his extraordinary life.”
Published in 2000, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography spent several weeks on The New York Times’ list of best sellers, and the audio edition, narrated by Mr. Poitier, won a Grammy Award for best spoken word album. In 2007, Oprah Winfrey relaunched her Book Club with the memoir.
Casting, creative team and production timeline will be announced at a later date.
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Sidney Poitier is known the world over for his sensitive and powerful portrayals in such socially charged films as Cry, the Beloved Country, Something of Value, The Defiant Ones, Pressure Point, A Patch of Blue, To Sir With Love, In The Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Lilies of the Field, and many others.
As an Academy Award-winning actor, director, producer, best-selling author and diplomat, Sir Sidney Poitier’s career of more than 60 years has garnered him many honors and awards, among them, being knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009, the Spingarn Award in 2015 by the NAACP and the 2016 BAFTA Fellowship Award. His second book, a spiritual autobiography titled, The Measure of a Man, reached New York Times Bestseller status when originally published in 2000 and achieved that rank again in 2007 when chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. His third literary work, Life Beyond Measure: Letters To My Great-Granddaughter was released Spring 2008. He completed his fourth literary work, Montaro Caine, a novel, in March of 2013, which has been lauded by critics and fans alike with wonderful reviews and accolades.
The recipient of four honorary doctorate degrees from institutions of higher learning, he was honored in 2006 at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, when the country of France designated him a Commander of Arts and Letters.
His second Oscar for “extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style and intelligence” was awarded in 2002. Other awards include the BAFTA, three Golden Globes (among them the Cecil B. DeMille Award), an American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement; the Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement; the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement; five NAACP Image Awards, a Grammy Award for best spoken word album and two Golden Bear Awards from the Berlin Film Festival as well as the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award in 2011. In 2007 he resigned his ambassadorships to Japan from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Sir Sidney is president and CEO of Verdon Cedric Productions. He is married to Joanna Shimkus Poitier and is a father to six daughters, grandfather to nine grandchildren and a great grandfather to three great-grandchildren.
Charles Randolph-Wright (Playwright) has built a dynamic and diversified career in writing, directing, and producing for theatre, television, and film. He is the director of the critically acclaimed production of Alice Childress’ Trouble In Mind, currently running on Broadway. He directed the smash hit Motown The Musical on Broadway and the West End as well as the US and UK national tours, and is the director and co-writer of American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words, which will premiere at Arena Stage in 2022. Charles wrote the award-winning play Blue (which starred Phylicia Rashad at Arena Stage and the Roundabout). Ms. Rashad also starred with Diahann Caroll and Clifton Davis in the acclaimed Pasadena Playhouse production. He also wrote The Night Is A Child (starring JoBeth Williams), Cuttin’ Up, co-wrote Just Between Friends: Bea Arthur On Broadway, and co-wrote (with gospel legend Bebe Winans) the new musical Born For This, which Charles also directed. Other theatre directing credits include Love/Life at Lincoln Center starring Brian Stokes Mitchell, Cabaret Verboten at the Mark Taper Forum starring Bebe Neuwirth and Roger Rees, Ruined at Arena Stage, Tartuffe at ACT, The Diva Is Dismissed at the Public Theater starring Jenifer Lewis, and the 50th anniversary National Tour of Guys And Dolls as well as the world premiere of Frank Loesser’s Señor Discretion Himself. In television, Randolph-Wright was Producing Director and Executive Producer with Oprah Winfrey of OWN’s series “Delilah,” and has directed the series “The Big Leap,” “Greenleaf,” “Katy Keene,” and “Lincoln Heights,” among others. He directed the award-winning feature film Preaching to the Choir and is an Executive Producer of the documentary Maurice Hines: Bring Them Back, which won the Grand Jury Prize at the DOC NYC festival. Randolph-Wright is a resident artist at Arena Stage, an associate artist at The Young Vic, and is the recipient of the Paul Robeson Award. A native of York, South Carolina, he is a graduate of Duke University where he was an A.B. Duke Scholar and received the Distinguished Alumni Award. Charles serves on the Advisory Committee of the American Theatre Wing, the Board of Directors of the Roundabout Theatre, and the board of the Frederick Douglass Family Initiatives. www.Randolph-Wright.com
Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Director). Tony, Drama Desk, and Obie Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson is the Author, director and star of the recent Broadway production of Lackawanna Blues and the director of the recent Tony Award-winning Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Jitney which also garnered the Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award, Drama League Award and the NY Drama Critics Circle Award, along with six Tony nominations. Mr. Santiago-Hudson won a Tony Award as Featured Actor for his performance in August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and later went on to direct the play himself to critical acclaim. Other directing credits include: The Piano Lesson, Skeleton Crew, Othello, Gem of the Ocean, Paradise Blue, My Children! My Africa!, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Cabin in the Sky, The Happiest Song Plays Last, Two Trains Running, Things of Dry Hours, The First Breeze Of Summer and Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, among many others. He made his Broadway acting debut alongside Gregory Hines in Jelly’s Last Jam. Other Broadway credits include Stick Fly and Gem of the Ocean. The multi-award winning director and actor most recently adapted August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom for producer Denzel Washington and Netflix starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman. Ruben wrote, executive produced, and co-starred in the HBO film Lackawanna Blues based on his OBIE Award-winning play. The movie received several honors including Emmy, Golden Globe, NAACP Image Award, Humanitas, National Board of Reviews, Black Filmmaker’s Foundation and Christopher Awards. Recently, Ruben co-starred in BET’s drama The Quad and played the role of Captain Roy Montgomery on the hit show Castle for three seasons on ABC. Ruben currently co-stars in Tarell Alvin McCraney’s new series “David Makes Man” for Oprah Winfrey’s OWN network. Ruben has been seen in over three dozen movies. Among his favorites are Lackawanna Blues, American Gangster, Their Eyes Were Watching God, Coming to America, Forgotten Genius and The Devil’s Advocate. Ruben earned his MFA in acting from The Hillberry Classical Repertory Theater at Wayne State University, his BA in theatre from Binghamton University and he also holds Honorary Doctorate degrees from both Wayne State University and Buffalo State College. In a career that spans over four decades, Ruben considers opening The Ruben Santiago-Hudson Fine Arts Learning Center in 2014 in his hometown of Lackawanna, NY as one of his proudest and most cherished accomplishments.
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