This fall, the New York International Fringe Festival hit Unspeakable - described as "a dramatic fantasia inspired by the life of comedic icon Richard Pryor" - will come to Chicago on the Royal George Theatre Main Stage, 1641 N. Halsted, in a limited eight-week engagement beginning Tuesday, October 2, 2012. The official opening night performance is Monday, October 8, at 7:30 p.m.
Unspeakable is presented by Executive Producer Susan Batson (Broadway revival of Raisin in the Sun), Creative Mind Entertainment, OBC DreamTheatre, and in association with Kenneth Schapiro/ Enlightenment Productions.
Unspeakable is an unflinching look at the life and times of an iconic comedic genius. Covering a span of sixty one years, and focused on the period between 1967 and 1982, audience members travel through the emotional landscape that is Richard Pryor. Growing up in a Peoria brothel, where his mother toiled as a prostitute that his grandmother owned and operated, Pryor faced situations that forever shaped and scarred his sensitive soul. Coping with the reality of being born to a prostitute, his imagination allows him to escape and ultimately leads him to comedy. From his rise to super stardom in the shadow of Bill Cosby to his blazingly self-destructive love affair with cocaine and women, Unspeakable captures the duality of his success with the number of internal and emotional demons he battled throughout his life. At the center of Unspeakable is the humanity that connects us all through our vulnerability, intimacy and truth.
The cast of seven - many taking on multiple roles – features television and film star Isaiah Washington making his Chicago stage debut in the role of “Moody,” and James Murray Jackson, Jr. as “Richard Pryor,” a role he originated at the 2005 New York International Fringe Festival that earned him a New York Times rave for his “magnetic lead performance.” Additional casting will be announced shortly.
Unspeakable is directed by Rod Gailes OBC, based on a script by Gailes and Jackson, Jr. Given the strong language and adult situations inherent in this story, this production is recommended for theatergoers 16 years of age and older.
“Richard Pryor broke down barriers and stereotypes once thought unimaginable, said the unspeakable and did the unthinkable. He taught us by holding a mirror to the conscience of America, while self-destructing, and imploding on his own pain and grief. Though flawed in life, he lived uninhibited onstage. He was part preacher, social commentator, political activist, addict and a whole lot of devil. Richard ushered in a groundbreaking style which paved the way for a generation of comedians. He was able to convert his painful personal experiences and searing political observations into mainstream comedy,” said Gailes.
Whether in his professional life as an actor and producer or his personal role as a husband, father and activist, Isaiah Washington passionately commits himself to all ventures. As an actor, critics have lauded Isaiah's ability to effortlessly disappear into each role. Winner of two NAACP Image Awards and a Screen Actors Guild Award, Washington most recently appeared in Jeymes Samuel's They Die By Dawn starring Michael Kenneth Williams, Harry Lennix, Erykah Badu, Jesse Williams, and Rosario Dawson; and he will produce and star in the upcoming films The Undershepherd and Blue Caprice in theaters this Fall and Summer 2013, respectively. Washington has also produced and starred in Tony Abulu's film Dr. Bello; recently co-starred with Kate Beckinsale and Nick Nolte in The Trials of Cate McCall, also due out in 2013; and co-starred in John Sayles Go For Sisters starring LisGay Hamilton, Yolonda Ross, Edward James Olmos and Hector Elizondo. He is currently producing five other films: Africans vs African Americans, Precipice, Live Or Die, One Last Pimp Out/Waiting for Nick, and God Gave Us Tomorrow.. Washington also completed his first memoir, A Man From Another Land: How Finding My Roots Changed My Life, (Hachette/Centre Street Publishing) and is now producing the Audiobook version for iTunes.