Kennie Playhouse Theatre presents August Wilson’s Jitney & Shakespeare’s Twelth Night

The cast of JITNEY: (L – R) Elliott Robinson, Kenny Dozier, Kamal Bolden, Pierre Johnson, Brian A. Wilson, Jarvis Bynum, Kyra Davis, Gerold Oliver, Clark A. Harris. (Photo by Michael Gomez)

Kennie Playhouse Theatre (KPT), a company that has focused on producing the works of Black playwrights and hiring Black artists for the past 15 years, joins Nashville Shakespeare Festival (NSF) for Summer Shakespeare 2021. The popular, 33 year-old, annual festival will be live, on the outdoor stage at oneC1TY from August 12 – September 12, and outdoors in Franklin from September 16 – 19. All current COVID-19 safety guidelines will be closely followed.

“Theater has the uncanny ability to change people’s minds,” says Kenny Dozier, new Producer at Nashville Shakes and the Artistic Director of Kennie Playhouse Theatre.

This will be the second year that Summer Shakespeare will be in its new location at oneC1TY, Nashville, after a 32-year run in Centennial Park. OneC1TY is located just off the 28th-31st Avenue connector and Charlotte Avenue in Nashville’s Midtown District.

“We are very excited to share these shows by two master playwrights and hope everybody makes plans to see both of them,” says NSF Artistic Director Denice Hicks.

August Wilson’s JITNEY, a snapshot of Black life in 1977 Pittsburgh through the lens of a tight-knit group of independent cab drivers, featuring an all-Black cast, plays Thursdays – Sundays, August 12 – 22, at 7 pm. Shakespeare’s TWELFTH NIGHT, a comedy of mistaken identity, with a diverse cast, plays Thursdays – Sundays, August 26 – September 12 and on Labor Day Monday, September 6 at 7 pm at oneC1TY, Nashville. Both shows play an encore weekend at Williamson County Performing Arts Center at Academy Park in Franklin, TN from September 16 – 19.

Directing JITNEY is award-winning, veteran director Chuck Smith, a 30-year Resident Director at the Goodman Theatre in Chicago, a Resident Director at the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in Sarasota, Florida, and a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company. Five-time Grammy Award-winning bassist Victor Wooten, a songwriter and record producer who was ranked among the Top 10 Bassists of All Time by Rolling Stone Magazine, will compose original music for the show. Get detailed information at: www.kennieplayhousetheatre.com

Each evening begins at 5:30 pm with “INSIGHT,” free scholarly discussions at Sump featuring guest experts on August Wilson and Shakespeare. At 6:00 pm the nightly pre-show concert begins, featuring local entertainment. At 6:45 pm, the children participating in Elf & Fairy Camp will perform, followed by the Apprentice Company, leading straight into the main performance at 7:00 pm. Food trucks will be on-site and adult beverages will be available for purchase. Dogs on a leash are welcome, and while 12th NIGHT is a family-friendly show, JITNEY is rated MA for Mature Audiences.

The Festival is free, but a $10 donation is strongly encouraged to help provide the best outdoor theatre experience in Nashville. This year there will also be reserved “Noble” seating available for $40. VIP Royal Packages, which include reserved parking, comfortable reserved seating, and dinner catered by Bacon & Caviar Gourmet Catering, are $100 each and support the Festival’s programming. Go to ticketsnashville.com to purchase. More information is available at nashvilleshakes.org.

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