San Francisco, CA to the World – The Great Kahn, veteran actor and playwright Michael Gene Sullivan’s latest play, speaks to the many facets of an ugly issue: racism.
“As we searched the world for a play to open our 19th Season that would look unblinking into the face of racism and shed light on the maelstrom of our splintered nation, we needed look no further than Bay Area legend Michael Gene Sullivan,” said Bill English, Artistic Director of the San Francisco Playhouse. “That he embraces such troubling issues by taking us on an odyssey across millennia with wit and laughter, feels like a miracle we desperately need.”
“I wanted to write a drama about growing up Black in a ‘Land of the Free’ founded by slave owners,” Michael Gene Sullivan says, “but I also wanted to write a comedy about someone struggling to squeeze into a stereotypical mold created by those that hate them.”
“Luckily,” Sullivan adds, “Genghis Khan showed up to save me.”
Wait- what? Yes, Sullivan reaches back through time for writing in our time about a young Black teenager, Jayden, who just wants to be his “game-playing, nerdy self.” However, after he saves a girl (Ant) from a sexual assault, he and his mother become the targets for the aggression of the boys who attacked Ant. They have to keep moving in order to stay safe. While Ant develops a “tough” exterior in order to survive- but then begins to reject it- Jayden also struggles with the notion that he, too, must “toughen up.” Both characters try to figure out how to define themselves in a culture that assumes them to be dangerous. Directed by Darrel V. Jones, The Great Khan is a National New Play Network rolling World Premiere.
ABOUT THE PLAYWRIGHT
Michael Gene Sullivan is an award-winning playwright, director, and actor based in San Francisco. Sullivan’s plays have been produced and performed at theaters throughout the United States, and in Greece, England, Scotland, Spain, Columbia, Ukraine, The Netherlands, Argentina, Canada, Mexico, as well as at the Melbourne International Arts Festival (Australia), the International Festival of Verbal Art (Berlin), The Spoleto Festival, (Italy), and The Hong Kong Arts Festival. Sullivan is Resident Playwright for the Tony and OBIE award-winning (and despite its name never, ever silent) San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he has written or co-written over 20 plays, including Tales of the Resistance, Freedomland, Schooled, Red State, Posibilidad, Making A Killing, and 1600 Transylvania Avenue. He was also a Resident Playwright for the Playwrights Foundation, and was awarded a 2017 artist residency at the Djerassi Arts Center. Sullivan’s non-Mime Troupe plays include the award-winning all-woman political farce Recipe, A Red Carol, his critically-acclaimed one person show, Did Anyone Ever Tell You-You Look Like Huey P. Newton?, and his stage adaptation of George Orwell’s 1984, which opened at Los Angeles’ Actors’ Gang Theatre under the direction of Academy Award winning actor Tim Robbins. 1984 has since been produced nationally (most recently at the Alley Theatre in Houston and national tour with New York’s Aquila Theatre) and in 14 countries around the world, translated into 5 languages, and is published in the United States, Canada, and Spain. For more information about Michael Gene Sullivan, please visit his web site here: www.michaelgenesullivan.com.
Cast has been chosen as follows:
Velina Brown* as Crystal
Jamella Cross* as Ant
Leon Jones as Jayden
Kina Kantor* as Gao-Ming
Adam KuveNiemann as Mr. Adams
Brian Rivera* as Temujin
About the San Francisco Mime Troupe
The always radical, never-ever silent Tony and OBIE award-winning San Francisco Mime Troupe is a democratically run, multi-ethnic, multi-generational, multi-cultural, gender-balanced theater of social justice that by its very existence sustains a vision of community governance of, by, and for The People. For over 60 years The Troupe has created and produced theater with a working-class analysis of the events that shape our society, used theatre to expose social and economic injustice, and to demand revolutionary change on behalf of working people. And to reach the broadest possible audience most of its shows are presented at a price every worker can afford, at a place they can all attend: free, and in the parks. (Or, for the two pandemic summers, as radio plays!) www.sfmt@org. *Actors appear courtesy of Actors’ Equity Association, the Union of Professional Actors and Stage Managers in the U.S.
About San Francisco Playhouse
Founded by Bill English and SusiDamilano in 2003, San Francisco Playhouse has been described by the New York Times as “a company that stages some of the most consistently high-quality work around” and deemed “ever adventurous” by the Bay Area News Group. Located in the heart of the Union Square Theater District, San Francisco Playhouse is the city’s premier Off-Broadway company, an intimate alternative to the larger more traditional Union Square theater fare. San Francisco Playhouse provides audiences the opportunity to experience professional theater with top-notch actors and world-class design in a setting where they are close to the action. The company has received multiple awards for overall productions, acting, and design, including the SF Weekly Best Theatre Award and the Bay Guardian’s Best Off-Broadway Theatre Award, as well as three consecutive Bay Area Theatre Critics Circle Awards for Best Entire Production in the Bay Area (2016-2018). KQED/NPR recently described the company: “San Francisco Playhouse is one of the few theaters in the Bay Area that has a mission that actually shows up on stage. Artistic director Bill English’s commitment to empathy as a guiding philosophical and aesthetic force is admirable and by living that mission, fascinating things happen onstage.” San Francisco Playhouse is committed to providing a creative home and inspiring environment where actors, directors, writers, designers, and theater lovers converge to create and experience dramatic works that celebrate the human spirit.
WHEN: In-person performances: October 13 – November 13, 2021
Wednesdays and Thursdays at 7:00 P.M., Fridays at 8:00 P.M., Saturdays at 3:00 and 8:00 P.M., Sundays at 2:00 P.M.
On-demand video stream: October 16 – November 13, 2021 (tickets valid throughout the run)
WHERE: San Francisco Playhouse
450 Post St., San Francisco CA 94102
Streaming video at sfplayhouse/org (tickets required)
TICKETS: For tickets or more information, the public may contact the San Francisco Playhouse box office at 415-677-9596, or online at https://www.sfplayhouse.org/sfph/2021-2022-season/the-great-khan/
Text taken by Michele Caprario from publicist’s press release
Images courtesy of publicist; used with permission