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Topdog/Underdog

By Suzanne Lori-Parks

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Topdog/Underdogis one of the most powerful dramas of our time. Acclaimed for its taut theatricality and surprising humor, the play tells the story of two brothers, Lincoln and Booth—names given to them as a joke by their father. Each day, Lincoln puts on a top hat and a fake beard and goes to work in a seedy arcade, where tourists come for the chance to shoot Honest Abe. Booth is obsessed with a street con game, three-card monte. Striving for a better life, bound by their love for each other, they are haunted by their own pasts—and our country’s history.

WATCH

Preview Trailer

Inside the Rehearsal Room

PHOTOS

CRITICAL ACCLAIM

Explosive, chilling, and unforgettable.

JOHN BATHKE, EMMY AWARD0WINNING JOURNALIST

You don’t want to miss this.

STAGE MAGAZINE

Poignant and entertaining.

THE STAR-LEDGER

MEET THE ARTISTS

THE CAST

Brandon J. Dirden

Brandon J. Dirden is truly grateful to be returning to Red Bank.  Wine in the Wilderness marks his fourth time directing for Two River Theater. Previously, Brandon made his directorial debut with August Wilson’s Seven Guitars and followed that up with King Hedley II and last season’s Radio Golf.  As an actor, he has been seen in the Two River Theater acclaimed productions of Topdog UnderdogJitney, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, the world premiere of Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine by Ruben Santiago Hudson and A Raisin in the Sun. Brandon most recently appeared on Broadway starring in the Tony Award-winning production of Take Me Out and Skeleton Crew for which he received a Drama Desk nomination.  He also appeared on Broadway as Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Tony Award-winning production of All the Way, with Bryan Cranston, as ‘Booster’; the Tony Award-winning revival of August Wilson’s Jitney; Clybourne Park; Enron; and Prelude to a Kiss. Off-Broadway, he has appeared in The Piano Lesson, for which he won Obie, Theatre World and AUDELCO awards; The First Breeze of Summer and Day of Absence at Signature Theatre; Detroit ’67 at the Public Theater and Classical Theatre of Harlem; Peter and the Starcatcher at New York Theatre Workshop and as ‘Brutus’ in TFANA’s production of Juilius Caesar. On screen he has appeared in The Good Wife, For Life, Evil, The Big C, Public Morals, Mainifest, The Get Down, The Accidental Wolf, Blue Bloods, The Quad, the FX miniseries Mrs. America and four seasons of FX’s The Americans as Agent Dennis Aderholt.  Brandon is an Associate Arts Professor on the faculty of Tisch Grad Acting at NYU; a frequent volunteer at the 52nd Street Project; and a proud member of Actor’s Equity Association. 

Jason Dirden

Jason Dirden This moment is truly an overflow of blessings! I get to work with my brother and sister-in-law on an August Wilson play all while returning to Two River Theater. Credits include: Broadway: A Raisin in the Sun, Fences. Off-Broadway: The First Breeze of Summer (Signature Theatre). Regional: Topdog/Underdog (Two River Theater); A Raisin in the Sun (Ebony Repertory Theatre); August Wilson’s Century Cycle (The Kennedy Center); Every Tongue Confess (Arena Stage); Stick Fly (Huntington Theatre). Training: Morehouse College and University of Illinois. Twitter/Instagram: @jasondirden

THE CREATIVES

Playwright and Director

Suzan-Lori Parks
Suzan-Lori Parks

Suzan-Lori Parks won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog, becoming the first African-American woman to do so. Her work is the subject of the PBS film TheTopdog Diaries. Named one of Timemagazine’s “100 Innovators for the Next New Wave,” her plays include TheBook of Grace,Father Comes Home from the Wars,Fucking A,In the Blood (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus(Obie Award), The America Play,The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World, andImperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (Obie Award for Best New American Play). She adapted the book of the classic opera The Gershwins’Porgy and Bess, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. In 2007, her project 365 Days/365 Playswas produced in more than 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. A student of James Baldwin, with whom she credits the launch of her interest in playwriting, Parks is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient and has been awarded grants by the National Endowment of the Arts, Rockefeller Foundation, Ford Foundation, and New York State Council on the Arts. She is the recipient of a Lila-Wallace Reader’s Digest Award, CalArts/Alpert Award, and Guggenheim Foundation Grant, and she is an alumna of Mount Holyoke College and New Dramatists. She’s written screenplays for Brad Pitt and Denzel Washington, Girl 6for Spike Lee, and she adapted Zora Neale Hurston’s classic novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, which premiered on ABC’s “Oprah Winfrey Presents.” Parks’ first novel, Getting Mother’s Body(Random House, 2003) is set in the west Texas of her youth; she is currently at work on her second novel. In addition to her writing, she had a lead acting role in The Making of Plus One, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival. She teaches at NYU, and is currently performing her experimental solo show, Watch Me Work, at The Public Theater, where she serves as Master Writer Chair. Please visit suzanloriparks.com.

Set and Lighting Designer

Christopher Akerlind
Christopher Akerlind

Christopher Akerlind has designed lighting, and occasionally scenery, for over 650 productions at theater, opera and dance companies across the country and around the world. He returns to Two River where he designed the set and lighting for Suzan-Lori Parks’s production of her play Topdog/Underdog. Recent work includes the Broadway productions of Waitress, The Last Ship, Rocky, The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, and Superior Donuts; Martha Clarke’s new productions Angel Reapers and Cheri for the Signature Theatre Company; the world premiere operas The Golden Ticket and Champion

for Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Appomattox and Dolores Claiborne for San Francisco Opera, and Everest for Dallas Opera. His extensive credits in opera include productions at the Opéra National de Bordeaux, Boston Lyric, Chicago Lyric, Dallas, Glimmerglass, Hamburgische Staatsoper, Houston Grand, Los Angeles, Metropolitan, Minnesota, New York City Opera, Nissei, San Francisco, Santa Fe, Seattle, and Washington National operas, and over 45 productions for Opera Theatre of Saint Louis where he has been Resident Lighting Designer for 15 years. He is the recipient of the Tony Award for The Light in the Piazza, an Obie Award for Sustained Excellence, the Michael Merritt Award for Design and Collaboration, two Chicago-area Joseph Jefferson Awards, as well as numerous nominations for the Drama Desk, Lucile Lortel, Outer Critics Circle, and Tony Awards.

Costume Designer

ESosa
ESosa

ESosa Broadway: The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (Tony nom), Topdog/Underdog. Off-Broadway credits include By the Way, Meet Vera Stark(Lucille Lortel Award), Trust, Crowns (Second Stage); Break of Noon(MCC; also Geffen Playhouse); The Capeman (Delacorte);Juan and John,Father Comes Home from the Wars,Romeo and Juliet (Public Theater);The Misanthrope, All That I Will Ever Be (New York Theatre Workshop).La Jolla/Center Theatre Group: American Night; Arena Stage: Ruined, Cuttin’ Up, Senor Discretion Himself (Helen Hayes Award nominee); Alliance: Twist; Pasadena Playhouse: Twist(2011 Ovation Award); A.R.T.: Best of Both Worlds; Geva Theatre: Fences; Berkeley Rep: The Blue Door; Bay Street Theatre: Big Maybelle: Queen of the Blues, Turandot: The Rumble for the Ring, Ain’t Misbehavin’; Centerstage: Once on This Island, Gleam. Williamstown Theatre Festival: Whaddabloodclot!!!.  http://esosadesign.com/

Sound Design

Brendan Connelly
Brendan Connelly

Brendan Connelly is a sound designer and composer, splitting time between Brooklyn and New Orleans.  In 1998, he co-founded the Obie-winning theater company TheTwo-headed Calfwith director Brooke O’Harra, and has composed scores for all of its productions including Drum of the Waves of Horikawa, Trifles,The Life and Death of Tom Thumb the Great,Major Barbara(NYIT Award for Best Original Score) and the recent You, My Mother(a collaboration with Karinne Keithley Syers, Kristen Kosmas, Rick Burkhardt, and the new-music ensemble Yarn/Wire). His work has been seen/heard at La MaMa E.T.C., PS 122, HERE Arts Center, Soho Rep, Ontological-Hysteric Theater, LAByrinth Theater, Perishable Theatre, and others. Besides his work with the Two-headed Calf, he has created sound and music for directors such as Pam MacKinnon, Seth Bockley, Roger Babb, Gisela Cardenas, Ian Belton, David Levine, Lisa Jo Epstein, and Kip Fagan, and has assisted composer Joshua Schmidt. His non-theatrical compositions have been performed by the S.E.M. Ensemble, Wet Ink, Yarn/Wire, Hunter-Gatherer and great musicians such as Sam Hillmer, Alex Mincek, Matthew Hough, Charlie Looker, Erin Lesser, Aurora Nealand, Sean LaRocca, and Jacob Garchik. He has received three Meet-The-Composer grants and two NYSCA composer commissions, and he was a participant in the 2009-11 TCG/NEA Career Development Program in Sound Design. Brendan received his MFA from Bard College.

Fight Director

Thomas Schall
Thomas Schall

Thomas Schall has served as fight director on over 70 Broadway shows, among them Six Degrees of Separation, Groundhog Day, Jitney, The Present, The Front Page, The Crucible, Blackbird, War Horse, Of Mice and Men, Romeo and Juliet, Death of a Salesman, Venus in Fur, A View from the Bridge. He has worked extensively at Lincoln Center Theater (Disgraced, Blood and Gifts), The Public Theater (Hamlet, King Lear, Mother Courage), MTC (Ruined, Murder Ballad), New York Theatre Workshop (Red Speedo, Othello) and the Met Opera (Nozze di Figaro, Il Trovatore).

Casting

Heidi Griffiths
Heidi Griffiths

Heidi Griffiths has worked for more than 25 years at the Joseph Papp Public Theater in NYC, where she has cast over 200 productions Off-Broadway and at the Delacorte Theater in Central Park, including Shakespeare, new plays, and musicals. On Broadway: The Girl From The North Country; The Inheritance; The Iceman Cometh; Sweat; Shuffle Along; The Crucible, Eclipsed; A Delicate Balance; A Raisin in the Sun; Lucky Guy; Chinglish; The Motherf**ker with the Hat; The Merchant of Venice; Hair; Passing Strange; Caroline, or Change; Take Me Out (Tony Award, Best Play 2003); Topdog/Underdog (Pulitzer Prize, 2002); The Wild Party; Bring in ’Da Noise, Bring in ’Da Funk; On the Town; and The Tempest. She also cast the films The Incredibly True Adventures of Two Girls in Love, MURDER and murder, Saving Face and Ladybird. Radio Golf is her 12th collaboration with Two River Theater.

Production Stage Manager

Bertie Michaels
Bertie Michaels

Bertie Michaels (Stage Manager) Broadway: Be More Chill, Come From Away, Beautiful – The Carole King Musical, Thérèse Raquin, A Bronx Tale. Off-Broadway/NYC: Encores! Mack & Mabel, Signature Theatre, Lincoln Center/LCT3, 2ndStage. Regional: Buck’s County Playhouse, Paper Mill Playhouse, Williamstown Theatre Festival, Two River Theater, Dallas Summer Musicals, Shakespeare on the Sound, Folger Shakespeare Theatre, Shakespeare Theatre of NJ. Other: August Wilson’s American Century Cycle with WNYC. Love and thanks to my family and to Sean.

Dates and tickets

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