New York, NY -- New York's SteppingStone Theatre Company presents the world premiere of REFLECTIONS OF A HEART - a new play written and directed by Christopher G. Roberts, based on the true story of Isaac Woodard, Jr., at one time the most highly decorated African-American WWII veteran whose 1946 beating and subsequent blinding by police, hours after being discharged from the US Army, ignited a heated civil rights battle in South Carolina and around the nation - with previews beginning June 11, prior to its official press opening June 17, at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street) in Manhattan.
Between the Scottsboro Boys and Rosa Parks, there was Isaac Woodard, Jr. Filled with humor and heartbreak, REFLECTIONS OF A HEART is based on true events in America's history that were almost lost in time. Set between 1946 and 1951, the play takes place in the Bronx and South Carolina. Shifting between times, African-American WWII veteran Isaac Woodard, Jr. finds himself under siege by hard-hearted detectives, social injustices, racial prejudices, and his own missing memories. America welcomes back its native son, as a highly decorated war hero, with plans of starting a family. Things go horribly awry when he begins traversing his past and present. The fight for his country is over, as the fight for his life begins.
In February 1946, Sergeant Isaac Woodard, Jr. (1919-1992) was beaten by police in Batesburg, South Carolina, following an innocuous incident on a Greyhound bus. Blinded during the assault, Woodard became the first national symbol in the fight against racial injustice, and garnered support from the likes of President Harry S. Truman, Lena Horne, Harry Belafonte, Orson Welles, and the NAACP. Although Woodard's story is nearly forgotten today, he inspired folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie to write the deeply moving ballad "The Blinding of Isaac Woodard," using some of Mr. Woodard's own words: "It's now you've heard my story, there's one thing I can't see. How you could treat a human like they have treated me?" This thrilling American story might have been lost, had it not been for a chance meeting between Roberts and the son of Isaac Woodard Jr.
The ensemble cast of REFLECTIONS OF A HEART includes Mary Ruth Baggot, Reginald L. Barnes, Gail Merzer Behrens, Chanel Carroll, Mark Ellmore, Gillian Glasco, Kevin Green, Jim Heaphy, Heather Massie, Jonathan Miles, Avery Pearson, Christopher G. Roberts, Robert Spence, David Wirth, and Jerry Zellers. REFLECTIONS OF A HEART features scenic design by Raffaele Castaldo; costume design by Sarah Cubbage; lighting design by Kayla J. Goble; and sound design by David M. Lawson.
Christopher G. Roberts is a New York-based actor and director. The author of several one-act plays, REFLECTIONS OF A HEART is his first full-length play. He was the Head Accessibility Consultant for the recent Broadway revival of THE MIRACLE WORKER, and assisted director Israel Hicks on the acclaimed production of August Wilson's JOE TURNER'S COME AND GONE. As an actor, he has appeared on the HBO series "Oz" and "Sex in the City." Roberts' training began in community-based theatres in Brooklyn, New York. Christopher earned his Bachelors of Arts in Theatre from the University of Buffalo. He attended Brooklyn College to pursue his Masters of Fine Arts in Acting. After several years working as an actor and teacher, in theatres such as Manhattan Theatre Club, McCarter Theatre, Samuel Beckett Theatre, and Henry Street Theatre, Roberts did post-graduate work at The School at Steppenwolf's Acting Program.
He is featured, along with such artists as Sidney Poitier, Gene Hackman, Laura Linney, Edward Norton, Billy Crudup, and his long time mentor, Tony-nominee Stephen McKinley Henderson (FENCES), in the groundbreaking book, "Acting Teachers of America: A Vital Tradition."
In 2005, inspired by Steppenwolf and his experiences there, Roberts began SteppingStone Theatre Company (SSTC) -- a theatre company dedicated to the ensemble and the unearthing of new and old stories to tell. He is the Producing Artistic Director of SteppingStone Theatre Company. Built on the efforts of a collective of talented and passionate artists, SSTC seeks to bring an innovative and unique perspective to theatre in the new millennium.
REFLECTIONS OF A HEART runs June 11-27 at Theatre Row's Clurman Theatre (410 West 42nd Street): Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 7pm; Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm; and Sundays at 3pm (with an additional 3pm matinee on Saturday, June 12).
Tickets are $18. For reservations, call TicketCentral at 212-279-4200 or visit www.TicketCentral.com