Lupita Nyong’o to make New York Stage Debut in Danai Gurira’s ‘Eclipsed’

Posted on September 3, 2015 /Theater

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The Public Theater (Artistic Director, Oskar Eustis; Executive Director, Patrick Willingham) announced complete casting today for the New York premiere of ECLIPSED, written by Danai Gurira. Directed by Obie Award winner Liesl Tommy and featuring Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o in her New York stage debut, this powerful story of survival and resilience begins previews at The Public Theater Tuesday, September 29 and runs through Sunday, November 15, with an official press opening on Wednesday, October 14.

Public Theater Member tickets can be accessed now. Single tickets, starting at $80, can be accessed now by calling (212) 967-7555, www.publictheater.org, or in person at the Taub Box Office at The Public Theater at Astor Place at 425 Lafayette Street. The Library at The Public is open nightly for food and drinks, beginning at 5:30 p.m., and Joe’s Pub at The Public continues to offer some of the best music in the city.

Making her New York stage debut, Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o will play “The Girl” in this powerful story of survival and resilience, directed by Obie Award winner Liesl Tommy. The complete cast of ECLIPSED includes Pascale Armand (Bessie), Akosua Busia (Rita), Zainab Jah (Maimi), Lupita Nyong’o (Girl), and Saycon Sengbloh (Helena).

Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave) comes to The Public in the New York premiere of ECLIPSED, the stunning, deeply moving play by award-winning Zimbabwean-American Playwright/Actress, Danai Gurira (co-author of In the Continuum and Michonne on AMC’s hit series “The Walking Dead”). Amid the chaos of the Liberian Civil War, the captive wives of a rebel officer band together to form a fragile community – until the balance of their lives is upset by the arrival of a new girl. Drawing on reserves of wit and compassion, ECLIPSED reveals distinct women who must discover their own means of survival in this deeply felt portrait of women finding and testing their own strength in a hostile world of horrors not of their own making. South African born Liesl Tommy (Appropriate and The Public’s The Good Negro) directs this magnificent story of survival and resilience.

ECLIPSED features scenic and costume design by Clint Ramos, lighting design by Jen Schriever, original music and sound design by Broken Chord, and voice and dialect by Beth McGuire.

DANAI GURIRA (Playwright) is an award-winning playwright and actress. As a playwright, her works include In the Continuum (Obie Award, Outer Critics Award, Helen Hayes Award), Eclipsed (NAACP Award; Helen Hayes Award: Best New Play; Connecticut Critics Circle Award: Outstanding Production of a Play), and The Convert (six Ovation Awards, Los Angeles Outer Critics Award). Gurira’s newest play Familiar received its world premiere at Yale Rep in 2015 and will premiere in New York at Playwrights Horizons in February 2016. She is a recipient of the Whiting Award, a Hodder Fellow, and has been commissioned by Yale Rep, Center Theatre Group, Playwrights Horizons, and the Royal Court. She is currently developing a pilot for HBO. As an actor, she has appeared in the films The Visitor, Mother of George, she also played Isabella in The Public’s Measure for Measure (Actor’s Equity Callaway Award). She currently plays “Michonne” on AMC’s The Walking Dead. She holds an MFA from Tisch, NYU. She is the co-founder of Almasi Arts, which works to give access and opportunity to the African Dramatic Artist.

LIESL TOMMY (Director) is an award winning international theater director whose work for The Public includes The Good Negro and The Urban Retreat (Public Studio). Her world premieres include A Melancholy Play by Sarah Ruhl and Todd Almond; Kid Victory by John Kander and Greg Pierce; Appropriate by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins; Party People by Universes, The White Man – A Complex Declaration of Love by Joan Rang; Peggy Picket Sees the Face of God by Roland Schimmelpfennig; Eclipsed by Danai Gurira; A History of Light by Eisa Davis; Angela’s Mixtape by Eisa Davis; Bus and Family Ties. Tommy’s additional credits include award-winning re-interpretations of Les Miserables, Hamlet, A Raisin in the Sun, Piano Lesson, and Ma Raney’s Black Bottom as well as a four-city tour of Ruined. She has worked at DTC, California Shakespeare Theater, Centerstage, Sundance East Africa, Berkeley Rep., Oregon Shakespeare Festival, La Jolla Playhouse, and Huntington Theatre Company, among others. Tommy is Associate Director at Berkeley Rep, serves as a Program Associate at Sundance Institute Theatre Program and as an Artist Trustee with the Sundance Institute’s Board of Trustees. Tommy facilitated the inaugural Sundance East Africa Theater Director’s Lab in In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She’s earned an Obie award, Pioneer of the Arts Award, Lillian Hellman award, Alan Schneider award, the inaugural Susan Stroman Award, an NEA/TCG Directors Grant, and NYTW Casting/Directing Fellowship. She has taught or guest directed at Yale Rep, Juilliard, NYU, and Brown University. Tommy is an alum of Trinity Rep Conservatory and a native of Cape Town, South Africa.

PASCALE ARMAND (Bessie) has appeared on Broadway in The Trip to Bountiful as well as Off-Broadway in Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon. She has originated roles in premieres of contemporary pieces including Jupiter in Kia Corthron’s Breath, Boom; Jekesai/Ester in Danai Gurira’s The Convert; and Amina in Belleville by Amy Herzog. Her additional credits include Pericles, Hamlet, As You Like It, A Raisin in the Sun, The Piano Lesson, Jitney, Gem of the Ocean, and Ruined. Her television credits include “American Odyssey”; “The Blacklist”; “Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”; “Law & Order: Criminal Intent”; and “Strangers with Candy.” She is an alumna of NYU’s Graduate Acting Program.

AKOSUA BUSIA (Rita) made her Broadway debut starring as Daisy in Mule Bone and her London, West End debut as Edna in Gloo Joo (Evening Standard Award); Tanya in The Talented at Manhattan Theater Club; Veronica in the West Coast premiere of Valley Song by Athol Fugard at La Jolla Playhouse; Annetta in Eden at Los Angeles Theater Center; and Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at Klaxon Theater, Oxford, England. Her film and television credits include in Nettie The Color Purple; Bessie in Native Son; “A Special Friendship”, and “Babies Having Babies,” earning her a Youth in Film Award. Her writing credits include the screenplay Beloved; and the best-selling novel “The Seasons of Beento Blackbird.” She is the also the lyricist of “Moon Blue,” sung by Stevie Wonder. Born in Ghana and trained in England at the Central School of Speech and Drama, Busia is a Women in Film International Award recipient.

ZAINAB JAH (Maimi) has appeared in The Public Theater’s In Darfur and her recent credits include the title role in Hamlet at The Wilma Theatre; Antony & Cleopatra; Romeo N Juliet; The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner; the roles of Titania and Hippolyta in A Midsummer Night’s Dream; Prudence in The Convert (Los Angeles Stage Alliance Ovation Award and Philadelphia Critics Award for Best Featured Actress); Josephine in Ruined (San Francisco Bay Area Critics’ Circle – Oustanding Performance Female Featured Role); A Doll’s House at Williamstown Theatre Festival; Eclipsed; Helen of Troy in Trojan Women at the Classical Theatre of Harlem); and Peter Sellars’ European tour of Children of Herakles. Her film and television credits include Outliving Emily with Andre Braugher and Phylicia Rashad; Along Game Love; and “Law & Order SVU.”

LUPITA NYONG’O (The Girl) will next be seen in J.J. Abrams’ highly anticipated Star Wars: The Force Awakens, as the motion capture character “Maz Kanata.” The film will be released by Disney on December 18, 2015. She additionally just wrapped production in Uganda on Mira Nair’s The Queen of Katwe opposite David Oyelowo, and lends her voice to Jon Favreau’s upcoming Jungle Book as “Raksha,” set for release next April. Nyong’o made her feature debut in Steve McQueen’s 12 Years a Slave, which earned her the Academy Award and SAG Award for “Best Supporting Actress”. A graduate of the Yale School of Drama’s acting program, Nyongo’s stage credits include playing Perdita in The Winter’s Tale (Yale Repertory Theater),Sonya in Uncle Vanya, Katherine in The Taming of the Shrew, as well as part of the cast in the original production of Michael Mitnick’s Elijah.

SAYCON SENGBLOH (Helena) appeared at The Public in Hair and most recently in Marley at Centerstage Theater in Baltimore. Her Broadway credits include Holler if Ya Hear Me; Motown the Musical; Fela!; Hair; The Color Purple; Wicked; Aida as well as the national tour of Rent and Hurt Village and Once On This Island Off-Broadway. She has been seen in film and television in Finding Fela; American Gangster; Across the Universe; Funny Valentines; “The Good Wife”; “Criminal Justice”; and “Law & Order.”