Theater program tours with ‘The Orphan of Chao’


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville African American Theatre Program will present “The Orphan of Chao&#8221: this summer at two venues. Premiered in February at UofL, the play will be performed at the Kentucky Shakespeare Festival and at the National Black Theatre Festival.

    The Kentucky Shakespeare Festival performances are free and begin at 8:30 p.m. July 19-24 in Central Park, 1340 S. Fourth St., in Old Louisville.

    AATP Director Lundeana Thomas said the adaptation provides audiences with a fresh look at the 13th century Chinese classic drama, calling it “the Chinese ‘Hamlet’ as seen through the eyes of African Americans. The story introduces elements of hip-hop and Yoruba themes of color, music and movement.” The Yoruba culture of West Africa is known for its distinctive traditions involving drumming and dance.

    “We will take a play from its Yuan Dynasty China setting to an ecosphere dome surrounded by a toxic wasteland of biological and electronic waste,” Thomas said. “It is a story about family, sacrifice, loyalty, murder and redemption.”

    “The play has evolved from the earlier performances at UofL,” Thomas said. “The audience will see a greater focus on the power of a mother’s love for her child that reaches from the grave.”

    Thomas and a cast of 13 players, mostly students, then will take to the road to perform at the National Black Theatre Festival as a featured original production at 3 p.m. Aug. 2 in Winston-Salem, N.C., and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. Aug. 3 at Winston-Salem State University’s Anderson Center.

    The AATP is part of the university’s theatre arts department. For more information, contact Thomas at 502-852-8442 or