Two of the most distinctive voices in civil rights history re-emerge to tell their own stories – Huey P. Newton, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, and abolitionist Frederick Douglass – when they are brought to life by award-winning writer and actor Roger Guenveur Smith. On March 3 at 7:00 pm Spike Lee’s film of Smith’s one-man show A Huey P. Newton Story will be screened at Collins Cinema, and a discussion with Smith will follow the film. And, on March 5 at 7:30 pm, Smith will perform live in his celebrated solo, Frederick Douglass NOW, at Alumnae Hall. Presented by the Newhouse Center for the Humanities, “Roger Guenver Smith – LIVE” is free and open to the public.
Roger Guenveur Smith is a writer, actor and director. His solo pieces for international stage include A. Huey P. Newton Story and Frederick Douglass NOW. Some of his other notable pieces for the stage are: Christopher Columbus 1992, In Honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Who Killed Bob Marley?, and Inside The Creole Mafia (with Mark Broyard).
His film roles include the stuttering hero Smiley in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in addition to an eclectic range of characters in Hamlet, Malcolm X, Get On the Bus, Eve’s Bayou, He Got Game, and American Gangster, which earned him a nomination for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. His featured performances for HBO include roles in K Street, Oz, and Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. He is a graduate of Occidental College and the Yale School of Drama.
A Huey P. Newton Story
March 3 / 7:00 PM / Collins Cinema
Roger Guenveur Smith will discuss A Huey P. Newton Story, which he wrote and performed. The Peabody Award-winning film based on his Obie Award-winning solo stage performance of the same name was documented with multiple cameras by Spike Lee in front of a live studio audience in New York. Scored by Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius) with featured instrumentation by Branford Marsalis, the film captures the vitality of Smith’s stage portrayal of the late Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The New York Times describes Smith’s portrayal as “dead-on … from the reedy voice to the posture of defiance” and the narrative (drawn mostly from the activist’s writings and interviews) as “a ride through the theme park of Newton’s strange life, a life full of sound andfury.”
Frederick Douglass NOW
March 5 / 7:30 PM / Diana Chapman Walsh Alumnae Hall
Frederick Douglass NOW is a monologue inspired by the life and work of the self-liberated abolitionist and pioneering feminist Frederick Douglass. Smith has edited Douglass’ classic 19th Century texts into a jazz-infused narrative, bookended by original writing of Beckettian force to produce the kind of edgy stylistic mash-up of which vital contemporary theater is made. Originally commissioned at the La MaMa Experimental Theater Club in New York, Smith’s Douglass has been continually refined in the tradition of Hal Holbrook’s ever-evolving Mark Twain Tonight. Smith has performed Frederick Douglass NOW at prestigious venues on both sides of the Atlantic, includingthe John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
ABOUT THE NEWHOUSE CENTER FOR THE HUMANITIES
Founded in 2003 by a generous gift from Susan Marley Newhouse ’55 and Donald Newhouse, the Newhouse Center for the Humanities generates and supports innovative, world-class programming in the humanities and arts. The Newhouse Center’s mission is to create a dynamic and cosmopolitan intellectual community that extends from Wellesley College to the greater Boston-area community and beyond.
For more information www.newhouse-center.org or call 781-283-2698.
ABOUT WELLESLEY COLLEGE & THE ARTS
The Wellesley College arts curriculum and the highly acclaimed Davis Museum and Cultural Center are integral components of the college’s liberal arts education. For decades, various departments and programs from across the campus have enlivened the community with world-class programming — classical and popular music, visual arts, theater, dance, author readings, symposia, and lectures by some of today’s leading artists and creative thinkers — most of which are free and open to the public.
Since 1875, Wellesley College has been a leader in providing an excellent liberal arts education for women who will make a difference in the world. Its 500-acre campus near Boston is home to 2,400 undergraduate students from all 50 states and 75 countries.