Essential Theatre to present ‘The Mountaintop’ through Sunday

The Essential Theatre will offer preview performances of “The Mountaintop” tonight and Thursday at 8 p.m. inside of the Charles Winter Wood Theatre. General admission for the previews is $8.

Luther Wells, associate director of the theater and department of visual arts chair, described his view of what the audience can expect.

“I think people can expect to see performances by two well-trained professional actors, James Webb and Marci Duncan,” Wells said. “They will get to see a side of Martin Luther King that we don’t know. We get a chance to see Martin as the man rather than the martyr that he has been made out to be.”

Duncan, assistant professor of theater and an actor in the “The Mountaintop,” said she came up with ways to relate to her character, Camae.

“Camae is very interesting,” Duncan said. “As you will see, and I don’t want to give away one of the major surprises in the play, but she is more than just a maid at the hotel.

“One of the things I like to do, and I also tell my students to do, is to make a list of how many ways you are like the character and how many ways you are unlike the character.”

Duncan said she’s been rehearsing every night for about five weeks.

“I also spent time at home doing character and play analysis and learning lines,” she said. “The research phase is the first phase.”

James Webb, a playwright and educator who plays King in “The Mountaintop,” said after studying King, he knows what it’s like to stand in the face of courage and fear and move forward.

“Although I haven’t walked in his shoes to the magnitude of what he’s done, I try to live according to my own creed, and that takes courage,” Webb said.

The audience, according to Webb, will see the playwright’s re-imagination of the night before King’s death.

“This is her interpretation of what could have or might have transpired that night,” he said. “And the play is based on magical realism, so that gives a wide range for her interpretation. People shouldn’t come expecting a history lesson. They should come expecting a playwright’s imaginative take on it, which hopefully will spark a dialogue.”

“The Mountaintop” will also be performed Friday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. and Sunday at 3 p.m. A post-show discussion will follow Saturday’s afternoon performance.

Admission is $15 for adults, $12 for senior citizens and Florida A&M employees with ID, $8 for students and children and $5 for FAMU students with ID.