Ford’s Theatre Director Paul R. Tetreault announced the cast and creative team for the world premiere of Pearl Cleage’s Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard, directed by Seema Sueko (Silent Sky). Cleage has crafted an evocative examination of the impact of Mayor Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr., Atlanta’s first Black mayor, through the voices of Atlanta citizens past and present. The production features an ensemble cast of DMV locals. Performances of the new play begin September 22 and continue through October 15, 2023.
Tickets for performances of Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard are now on sale and range from $18 to $48. Discounts are available for groups, senior citizens, military personnel, and those between the ages of 21 and 40. The production is recommended for ages 10 and older.
“We continue our tradition as America’s Theatre as a place for historic storytelling with the world premiere of Pearl Cleage’s Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard,” said Tetreault. “We are proud to be the first in the nation to bring this work to life and share Pearl’s ‘blueprint’ that makes it easier for us to create better lives and communities for ourselves.”
Playwright, author, activist, and Atlanta poet laureate Pearl Cleage, who was Maynard’s speechwriter and Director of Communications, says that her own experiences of the moment were life-changing, as she had an up-close seat at a historic moment. She instantly knew she wanted to write about Maynard when commissioned for The Ford’s Theatre Legacy Commissions, through which this play received a developmental workshop and reading in January-February 2023.
“I wanted to look at that moment as a time when many different communities in Atlanta came together in a way they never had before to elect this man we all felt was absolutely the right person to lead us through this transition period,” Cleage said. “I wanted to write a play that allowed me to create characters that would represent all the different constituencies that came together to elect Maynard our mayor. I wanted to ask myself (and my audience) what makes a great leader. I wanted to explore what we as citizens owe those leaders once we identify them. In these turbulent times when there is so much distrust of politicians and politics, I wanted to look back at a moment when we trusted the process and had great hopes invested in the outcome of every election. Maynard Jackson was elected less than 10 years after the Voting Rights Act. What did that kind of change mean for a city and its people?”
About Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard
This timely and poignant world premiere production is part of the ongoing Ford’s Theatre Legacy Commissions program. Playwright Pearl Cleage explores the election of Maynard Jackson, Atlanta’s first Black mayor. Cleage sets the play in present-day Atlanta, but soon the story travels back 50 years as citizens of the city recollect and reflect upon the significance of the once-in-a-lifetime election that turned Atlanta into a progressive example of the New South. Cleage’s unique theatrical voice turns Atlanta into a full-blooded character while allowing her audience to feel what it was like to be part of a true historic moment in the Southern capital city. As we mark the 50th anniversary of Jackson’s election of a lifetime, explore Cleage’s evocative depiction of this monumental moment, directed by Seema Sueko (Silent Sky).
Pearl Cleage is a playwright, novelist, poet, and political activist. Cleage’s plays and novels deal with themes of racism, sexism, and feminism. Her plays, novels, poems, and essays have been anthologized and are the subject of scholarly analysis. Her best-known plays, Flyin’ West (1992) and Blues for an Alabama Sky (1995), have been performed in regional theaters across the United States. In 1996, Blues for an Alabama Sky was performed during the Atlanta Summer Olympic Games as part of the Cultural Olympiad. She is the Playwright in Residence at Atlanta’s Alliance Theatre.
Leading the creative team is the artistic mind of director Seema Sueko, who previously directed Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard for The Ford’s Theatre Legacy Commissions: A First Look in January 2023. Audiences have seen her work at Ford’s in the 2020 production of Lauren Gunderson’s Silent Sky. According to Sueko, this play exemplifies the magic of everyday people. “Something Moving is a play with magic. Not the abracadabra kind of magic, but the alchemy of ordinary people doing an extraordinary thing through the election of Maynard Holbrook Jackson Jr.,” said Sueko. “I hope that bearing witness to this magic will ignite joyful action in the hearts of our audience.”
Seema Sueko grew up in Honolulu with a Pakistani father and a third-generation Kona-Japanese-American mother. She received her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Chicago. Between 2004 and 2020, Seema served as Deputy Artistic Director of Arena Stage in Washington, DC, Associate Artistic Director of The Pasadena Playhouse in Pasadena, California, and Co-Founder and Executive Artistic Director at Mo`olelo Performing Arts Company in San Diego. Currently, she is studying Solidarity Economy and exploring ways to make theater that maximizes social profit. She received the TCG Alan Schneider Director Award in 2022 and balances work as a freelance theater artist and consultant with caregiving for her parents. She is a Co-Curator with DNAWORKS as well as an “Immortal” with Kaimera Productions, and she is adapting the novel Song of the Exile by Hawaiian writer Kiana Davenport into a play with jazz music. Seema volunteers as board president of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Foundation (SDCF) and as a member of the executive board of the union, SDC. She believes that in addition to having one’s basic needs met, art, exercise, and love are daily essentials. More information about Seema’s work can be found at www.seemasueko.com. She is represented by Max Grossman at A3 Artists Agency.
The talented ensemble cast of DMV locals includes Billie Krishawn (Arena: Angels in America, Mosaic: The Till Trilogy) as the Witness, Kim Bey (Ford’s: A First Look-Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard, Second Stage: Zooman and the Sign) as Citizen 1, Doug Brown (Ford’s: Fences, Jitney, The Member of the Wedding, A First Look- Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard) as Citizen 3, Derek Garza (Baltimore Center Stage: Our Town) as Citizen 9, Shubhangi Kuchibhotla (Arena: Right to be Forgotten; Olney: Dance Nation) as Citizen 8, Alina Collins Maldonado (Shakespeare: Everybody, Much Ado About Nothing; GALA Hispanic Theatre: Jardín Salvaje) as Citizen 7, Susan Rome (Arena: Angels in America, Theater J: Brighton Beach Memoirs) as Citizen 5, Shaquille Stewart (1st Stage: Mlima’s Tale, The Rainmaker) as Citizen 4, Tom Story (Ford’s: The Glass Menagerie, Our Town, A Christmas Carol, 1776, A First Look- Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard) as Citizen 6 and Constance Swain (American Shakespeare Center: As You Like It, Eurydice) as Citizen 2.
The design promises to provide a vibrant picture of Atlanta then and now, bringing Cleage’s vision of Atlanta to life. This production features scenic design by Milagros Ponce de León (Ford’s: Silent Sky, Into the Woods, Jefferson’s Garden, Ragtime), lighting design by Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew (Broadway: Kimberly Akimbo, Shakespeare: King Lear), costume design by Ivania Stack (Ford’s: The Trip to Bountiful, Silent Sky, Jefferson’s Garden), sound design by André J. Pluess (Ford’s: Silent Sky, Broadway: The Minutes, 33 Variations, I Am My Own Wife, Metamorphoses), projection design by Shawn Duan (Broadway: Chinglish, Off-Broadway: Letters of Suresh, The Chinese Lady) and hair and makeup design by Danna Rosedahl (Ford’s: The Trip to Bountiful; My Lord, What a Night; Fences).
Rounding out the team is dialects/voice director Lisa E. Nathans (Ford’s: Silent Sky, Shakespeare: King Lear), dramaturg Faedra Chatard Carpenter (Mosaic: The Till Trilogy; Fabulation: Or the Re-Education of Undine; Queens Girl in Africa), production stage manager Brandon Prendergast (Ford’s: more than 25 productions including Silent Sky, Twelve Angry Men, Come From Away, Fly, Parade) and assistant stage manager Julia Singer (Ford’s: The Trip to Bountiful; My Lord, What a Night; Silent Sky; Fences; Twelve Angry Men).
Accessibility and Special Performances
Ford’s Theatre is committed to ensuring visitors of all abilities can experience the performances, exhibits, history, and programs its site has to offer. Ford’s Theatre is accessible to persons with disabilities, offering wheelchair-accessible seating in the rear orchestra, accessible restrooms, and audio enhancement. For more, visit the accessibility page on its website.
Audio-described performances of Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard are Wednesday, October 11 at 7:30 p.m. and Saturday, October 14 at 2 p.m. An ASL sign-interpreted performance is scheduled for Thursday, October 12 at 7:30 p.m. Accessible seating is available in the rear orchestra.
Beginning Wednesday, September 27, 2023, all performances of Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard will be captioned via the GalaPro App. GalaPro is available from the App Store or Google Play and allows patrons to access captioning on demand through their phone or tablet device. Patrons set their phones to airplane mode and connect to the local GalaPro WiFi network before the performance begins. More information at www.fords.org/visit/
An Introductory Experience to Something Moving: September 16, 2023, at 1 p.m.
A walking tour of Washington, DC inspired by the show and run by Ford’s Theatre Education will be on Saturday, September 16 at 1 p.m. Ford’s hopes to introduce Something Moving to a local audience by working with relevant partners to provide a live walking tour of spaces on Capitol Hill that historically connects the civic work of Maynard Jackson to Black civic activists of President Abraham Lincoln’s time. This event is limited to 35 people and is free with suggested donation. More information will be available on the Ford’s Theatre website at a later date.
Free First Preview: September 22, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
Ford’s Theatre partners with TodayTix to give out free tickets for the first performance of each mainstage production in its theatrical season. Tickets are available via the TodayTix app, beginning at 10 a.m. ET on September 15 for the September 22 at 7:30 p.m. performance of Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard. Visit www.fords.org/whats-happening/
Teacher Preview Workshop: September 26, 2023, at 7:30 p.m.
A Teacher Preview Workshop will be on Tuesday, September 26, 2023, at 7:30 p.m. Student matinees for Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard are on Friday, September 29, 2023, October 5, 2023, and October 12, 2023, at 12 p.m. Learn more on the Ford’s Theatre website.
Generation Abe Night: October 5, 2023
Generation Abe Night for Something Moving: A Meditation on Maynard will be on October 5, 2023. Join our community for young professionals between the ages of 21-40 who love theatre and history! Stay after the show for a reception. Use the discount code UNDER4024 when purchasing your ticket for the October 5 performance to take advantage of GenAbe rates.
Ford’s Theatre Society
One of the most visited sites in the nation’s capital, Ford’s Theatre reopened its doors in 1968, more than a hundred years after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Operated through a partnership between Ford’s Theatre Society and the National Park Service, Ford’s Theatre is the premier destination in the nation’s capital to explore and celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s life and legacy.
Ford’s Theatre Society was founded under the guidance of executive producer Frankie Hewitt, who, during her 35-year tenure, established Ford’s as a living, working theatre producing performances that highlighted the diversity of the American experience. Since the arrival of Paul R. Tetreault as Director, critics and the theater-going public have recognized Ford’s for the superior quality of its artistic programming. With works from the Tony-nominated Come From Away and the nationally acclaimed Big River, to the world premieres of Grace, Meet John Doe, The Heavens Are Hung In Black, Liberty Smith, Necessary Sacrifices, The Widow Lincoln and The Guard, Ford’s Theatre is making its mark on the American theatre landscape. Under the current leadership of Board of Trustees Chairman Phebe N. Novakovic and through the lens of Lincoln’s leadership and legacy, Ford’s today endeavors to advance Lincoln’s “unfinished work” with programs and performances that cultivate empathy, encourage dialogue and bridge divides in American life.
For more information on Ford’s Theatre and the Ford’s Theatre Society, please visit www.fords.org.