The University of Louisville Theatre Arts Department’s African American Theatre Program is celebrating its 25th year with the opening of “The Mountaintop” by Katori Hall on Sept. 20. 

Director Johnny Jones, who serves as head of the African American Theatre Program, leads audiences to “the promised land” by honoring a moment in history that forever changed the nation — the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

UofL graduate students LaShondra Hood and Xavier Harris lead the production, which is the Department’s first of the season. Hood, a third-year MFA Performance candidate, will perform her thesis role of Camae alongside Harris, a second-year MFA candidate who plays Dr. King.

“The Mountaintop” reimagines the night before the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, on April 3, 1968. During the night, King receives a visit from Camae, a motel maid, as he wrestles with the idea of leaving earth before seeing his dream of freedom and equality for all people come to fruition. King wonders who will pick up the baton once he passes on. He soon realizes that the legacy that he leaves behind is more significant than he could ever imagine.

The theme for the Theatre Arts Department’s mainstage season is “Stories from the Past, Lessons for the Future.” Per the 50th-year anniversary of King’s assassination, the assassination of Robert Kennedy, and the Protests of 1968, “The Mountaintop” is a fitting production for an ideal time to ask ourselves, “Where do we go from here?”

“Dr. King said anybody can be great because anybody can serve,”  said Professor Johnny Jones. “There are still people in this world who are serving and doing just that for the sake of others. This play speaks to that particular opportunity of us being able to help each other, being able to uplift each other, and to be able to give each other testimony and to share our joys, our pains, and our sorrows with one another as we overcome.”

“The Mountaintop” opens Sept. 20 and runs through Sept. 30. Ticket prices are $20 General Admission; $15 for Faculty/Staff/Seniors (65+)/non-UofL Students (with Student ID) and $10 for Current UofL Students (with Student ID). Tickets may be purchased online or by contacting the box office at 502-852-6814. 

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