Avant Bard Theatre announces world premiere of ‘Billy and George’

A dramatic portrait of the nation's first president and his closest companion, the enslaved person named William 'Billy' Lee.

Arlington’s Avant Bard Theatre launches its 2023 season with a world premiere, Billy and George, written by Ken Jones and Daryl L. Harris, critically acclaimed American playwrights. Directed by Avant Bard Producing Partner DeMone Seraphin, Billy and George plays January 19 through February 11, 2023, at Gunston Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA.

Billy and George takes place on December 25, 1776, just hours before General George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River to defeat the Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey. Washington and his closest companion, the enslaved person William “Billy” Lee, prepare for the crossing while discussing, arguing, and challenging the concepts of freedom, war, and love.

“I couldn’t have dreamed of a better group to produce the premiere of Billy and George than that of DeMone Seraphin, director, and the Avant Bard Theatre team,” Jones shared. “In writing the play, Daryl and I wanted to give Billy Lee a voice, a sound, a body, and to make sure that the soul of the man, joined with George’s, is still fighting for freedom, for love, and for life.”

Theatergoers will be given a nuanced portrait of the nation’s first president and his unexpected confidante who influenced Washington’s perspective on peace, freedom, and independence.

DeMone Seraphin

Pointing to the contemporary relevance of Billy and George, Seraphin said: “Sankofa is an African word and symbol from the Akan tribe in Ghana. Its literal translation is ‘It is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind,’ and is derived from the words san (return), ko (go), and fa (look, seek, and take). The symbol Sankofa embodies the Akan people’s quest for knowledge based on critical examination and intelligent and patient investigation.

“Ken and Daryl’s remarkable play provides us with a thought-provoking look at a key moment in our country’s history via the relationship between our first president, George Washington, and his slave, William ‘Billy’ Lee. My sincere hope is that this journey back will propel us forward into our greater selves, so that yesterday’s missteps don’t remain tomorrow’s pitfalls.”

Billy and George begins previews on January 19, 2023, and will run through February 11, 2023, at Theatre Two of the Gunston Arts Center, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA. For tickets and details visit Avant Bard’s website at avantbard.org.

Avant Bard provides students and veterans and servicemembers (and their families) with 50 percent ticket discounts. All previews and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m. are considered Pay What You Can, which means patrons can name their ticket price, with no set minimum and no limit on the number of tickets purchased.

Avant Bard is committed to making theater accessible and affordable. Gunston Arts Center is wheelchair accessible. Additionally, the following performances will feature ASL interpretation:
Sunday, January 22, 2023, 2 p.m.
Sunday, January 29, 2023, 2 p.m.
Thursday, February 2, 2023, 7:30 p.m.
Saturday, February 4, 2023, 7:30 p.m.

COVID Safety: We strongly request folks wear masks to protect our cast and crew. We will continue to ask to see vaccination cards.

Avant Bard Theatre is an Arlington-based performing arts organization dedicated primarily to producing classic works, both time-tested and contemporary classics; emphasizing a provocative, bold approach in an intimate setting; and training and showcasing the best emerging talent in the region, mentored by seasoned, professional theater artists. Avant Bard’s mission is expressed through its commitment to artistic excellence, collaboration, talent development, and promoting educational and social outreach. Learn more at avantbard.org.


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