Sat April 6, 2019

West Coast Premiere of The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams

Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s (LHT) West Coast Premiere of The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams, resident playwright with New Dramatists and former writer for NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is presented in the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco from March 23 to April 6, 2019.

The dead don’t stay so in The Urban Retreat, directed by Darryl V. Jones. If you threw Hamilton, Empire, and Hamlet into a crockpot, you might catch a whiff of what this contemporary tragicomedy is cooking. A mid-twenties hip-hop mogul in his prime (Trench Deep) reaches out to his slumping but brilliant high school English teacher (Chaucer Mosley) to ghostwrite his memoir. Between them, their haunted pasts, their beefs, and their generational language barriers reveal Black masculinity at its tautest.

Surrounding them, a cast of agents, producers, and groupies push their own needs, desires, and premonitions through Trench Deep’s platinum fingers. As the pressures of publication dates and deadlines loom closer, old alliances (and archetypes) wither and the heart of black art demands our attention. “Blackness is doin for yuh’self,” Trench says, but The Urban Retreat asks: When all’s said and done, what have we got except for each other? And can the spirit of hip-hop truly ever be chopped, shipped, and sold?

In this funny, gripping, raw and powerful play, A. Zell Williams gives much to consider regarding the power of words to heal or to destroy. He invites us to consider the personal fortitude it takes to be your authentic self, when hiding behind a mask can give you fame and fortune beyond your wildest dreams. But notoriety of this type comes at a price, and sometimes it means selling out and sacrificing your integrity and that of others. Using hip hop dance and rap music lyrics, The Urban Retreat appeals to audiences across generations who will relate to the characters’ soul-searching to be true to themselves.

WHAT: The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams and directed by Darryl V. Jones
WHO: West Coast Premiere Presented by Lorraine Hansberry Theatre
WHEN: March 23 – April 6, 2019 (12 Performances)
VENUE: Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
TICKET COST: Tickets $15 - $35 (15% discount for groups of 10 available through LHT’s Box Office.)
PURCHASE ONLINE: Click Get Tickets at
CONTACT: [email protected], (415) 474-8800

ABOUT LORRAINE HANSBERRY THEATRE (LHT) Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the Lorraine Hansberry Theatre is the premiere African American theatre company in the San Francisco Bay Area. LHT has produced more than 140 plays, including west coast and world premieres, experimental works, classics in the African-American canon, lively musicals, and poignant socio-political dramas. The Lorraine Hansberry Theatre presents plays by both emerging and established African American and multicultural playwrights and provides employment and career building opportunities for actors, directors, designers, and technicians from the African American and multicultural communities. LHT draws from the cultural and economic resources of the San Francisco Bay Area to enrich and strengthen the Performing Arts by actively seeking and participating in collaboration with Bay Area arts institutions and performing arts organizations.

A. Zell Williams is a Resident Playwright with New Dramatists and was a writer for NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. He has served as a National New Play Network Playwright-in-Residence at Philadelphia's InterAct Theatre Company, the Tow Foundation’s Emerging Playwright-in-Residence at the Public Theater, as a Featured Writer with the Lark Play Development Center, as a member of The Civilians' R&D Group, and Ars Nova’s Play Group. Productions: In A Daughter’s Eyes & Down Past Passyunk (InterAct Theatre, Philadelphia.) Awards: Marin Theatre Company Emerging American Playwright Prize, The Terrence McNally New Play Award, NYU’s Goldberg Playwriting Award, National New Play Network's Smith Prize. Nominations: The Williamstown Theatre Festival’s L. Arnold Weissberger Award, The Playwright of New York (PoNY) Fellowship. Finalist: Yale Drama Series for Emerging Playwrights and Kitchen Dog Theatre's New Works Festival. His plays include The Biggest Valley, Slay & Eat, and The Urban Retreat.

Darryl V. Jones (LHT Acting Artistic Director) is Professor and Chair of Theatre and Dance at Cal State East Bay. Last season he directed and co-choreographed the Aurora Theatre production of The Royale which won the BACC Award for Entire Production-East Bay and this year he opened their season with Detroit 67. Directing includes: Off Broadway/National Tour We Are Your Sisters (AUDELCO Award Outstanding Production), A View From The Bridge (Theatre Lobby Award Outstanding Direction) and Spunk (Helen Hayes Award Nominee). Other credits include: The Minneola Twins (Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.) and The Brothers Size (Theatre Rhino). Jones was Directing Associate at Arena Stage where he choreographed Candide and Dance of Death and directed and produced new plays for PlayQuest. He is an active member of Actors Equity Association and a 2017 TBA Award nominee for outstanding supporting actor in the musical Priscilla. He has performed with theatre companies such as Arena Stage, The Old Globe and Ford’s Theatre. Jones was Head of the B.F.A. Directing Concentration at the University of Michigan and Foundation Advisor for their BFA Acting Program. He also currently teaches acting in the American Conservatory Theatre MFA Acting Program. Jones holds a Bachelor of Music, Vocal Performance from The Catholic University of America, and an MFA in Directing from Boston University. He is a certified Meisner Acting Technique instructor from Larry Silverberg’s True Acting Institute.
Lorraine Hansberry Theatre’s (LHT) West Coast Premiere of The Urban Retreat by A. Zell Williams, resident playwright with New Dramatists and former writer for NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, is presented in the Buriel Clay Theater, 762 Fulton Street in San Francisco from...
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