‘The Mountaintop’ portrays fictional event before MLK’s death


The Actors’ Warehouse production of “The Mountaintop” portrays an imagined conversation between Lorraine Motel maid Camae, played by Amanda Edwards, and Martin Luther King Jr., played by George Whitehead, on the night before King was assassinated.

Courtesy of Steven H. Butler
Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 at 11:20 a.m.

‘The Mountaintop,” an award-winning play that fictionalizes the final hours of the life of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. through an imagined conversation between King and a fictional maid at the Lorraine Motel on the night before King’s assassination April 4, 1968, in Memphis, Tenn., debuts Friday at Actors’ Warehouse.

Facts

‘The Mountaintop’

What: Play by Katori Hall portrays a fictional conversation between a maid at the Lorraine Motel and Martin Luther King Jr. on the night before he was assassinated
When: Opens Friday and runs 8 p.m. Thursdays-Saturdays, 3 p.m. Sundays through Feb. 9
Where: Actors’ Warehouse, 608 N. Main St.
Tickets: $15, $10 for students and seniors ages 65 and older
Info: 222-3699, www.actorswarehouse.org

“The Mountaintop” is directed by local artist Steven H. Butler, artistic director of Spirit of Soul Repertory, the adult theater company housed at Actors’ Warehouse, and written by Katori Hall, a playwright and performer from Memphis, Tenn. Hall received the 2010 Olivier Award for Best New Play for “The Mountaintop,” which ran on Broadway from October 2011 to January 2012 at the Bernard Jacobs Theatre and starred Angela Bassett and Samuel L. Jackson.

Butler said “The Mountaintop” is a one-act play that takes place on the evening of April 3, 1968, in Room 306 at the Lorraine Motel. Local artists Amanda Edwards plays Camae, a hotel maid at the Lorraine Motel, and George Whitehead portrays King. Butler points out that Camae is not a real person, and the interaction between Camae and King is imagined by Hall.

Butler said the play explores how King may have felt after delivering his famous, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech with Camae acting as a sounding board.

“Camae comes into King’s life and he connects with her,” Butler said. “Sometimes you can open up to a complete stranger easier than to friends and family.”

Butler said he hopes those who see the play reflect on the great work King did during his lifetime, the great work done by those who carried the baton, and to also reflect that there is still much work to be done.

“There was great work being done during King’s lifetime and just like society has evolved so has the civil rights movement,” Butler said. “But there is still much work to be done.”

Rhonda Wilson, founder and artistic director of the Actors’ Warehouse said the play centers around what the playwright imagines could have happened on the night before King was assassinated.

“‘The Mountaintop’ is moving and well-written,” Wilson said. “It’s thought-provoking and will encourage conversation whether you agree or not. And that’s what theater should do.”

The production, which is s production has some cigarette smoking and strong adult language, and is not recommended for children under 15 years of age.

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