Stage Door News
Toronto: Cahoots Theatre presents “Three Ordinary Men” by Steven Elliott Jackson June 14-26
Thursday, May 5, 2022
June, 1964. The Civil Rights Movement rages in the southern United States. Hundreds of college students, Black and white alike, board buses despite warnings of grave danger and descend on the state of Mississippi, for what they have dubbed ‘Freedom Summer’. The dream is to ignite a widespread African-American voter registration and liberation campaign. The nightmare, however, is close at hand for Three Ordinary Men.
Cahoots Theatre’s first production since pre-pandemic days reunites the company’s artistic director, Tanisha Taitt, with award-winning playwright Steven Elliott Jackson. Directed by Taitt and starring Tristan Claxton, Jamar Adams-Thompson and Jack Copland, Three Ordinary Men is inspired by the real-life circumstances met by civil rights workers Michael Schwerner, James Chaney, and Andrew Goodman, whose disappearance on June 21st, 1964 would indelibly etch their names into the memory of a movement and the conscience of a nation.
After winning the Hamilton Fringe’s Best New Play honour in 2020, Three Ordinary Men was set to debut at that year’s festival before COVID-19 shot it down. It will premiere two years later in Toronto this June, produced for Cahoots by its co-leader and managing producer, Lisa Alves. The production will be stage managed by Lily Chan, production managed by Maya Royer, and features a creative & design team consisting of Shawn Henry, Michael Fillier, Claudia Tam, Christopher-Elizabeth, and Tiffany Ledesma. Three Ordinary Men opens on June 14th and runs to June 26th in the Incubator at The Theatre Centre. Tickets go on sale Monday May 16th.
Jackson says about the piece, “What struck me while researching this event was that the majority of books and articles focused on the aftermath, which of course was an interesting story. But what appealed most to me was the connection these three men had and the incredible risk that they took in order to protect the rights of Black citizens in the South – the right to vote, the right to be safe, the right to walk in the light of day without harm.”
A Black woman and a queer white man, respectively, the show’s director and playwright first forged a creative kinship as collaborators on Jackson’s reverberant and acclaimed 2017 hit, The Seat Next To The King. Taitt, who has been “shaken and stirred” by the Schwerner-Goodman-Chaney story for two decades, says she was stunned when Jackson sent her a first draft without previously telling her anything about it.
“I opened the file and saw the character names, first names only. My eyes landed on each one – ‘Mickey. James. Andy.’ I immediately knew and I gasped. My heart leapt into my throat. I couldn’t call Steven fast enough.”
Jackson shares her deep affinity for the profoundly affecting story. “I wanted to focus on the three men, three ordinary men, who were just like any person who steps outside of their own relative ‘comfort’ to do something great, without the glory. It takes a much bigger leap to offer ourselves up and learn to care about more than ourselves. I wanted people to know who these men were, and how much we could be like them.”
THREE ORDINARY MEN
Written by Steven Elliott Jackson | Directed by Tanisha Taitt
Featuring: Tristan Claxton, Jamar Adams-Thompson, Jack Copland
The Incubator at The Theatre Centre - 1115 Queen St. West, Toronto
Tuesday June 14th to Sunday June 26th, 2022
Tuesday to Saturday @ 8 pm; Sunday @ 2 pm (No Mondays)