April 3rd, 1968. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. had just given his famous, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” speech to striking sanitary workers in Memphis. Though the speech’s intention was to rally and support the workers, King felt he had to address the mounting number of threats against his life. He told the workers: “Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land.”
We all know what happened the next day. Katori Hall’s play, The Mountaintop imagines Dr. King’s last night on Earth—alone in his room at the Lorraine Motel, save for the presence of a maid—the charming (and, we should say, rather flirtatious) Camae. Despite its simple structure (two characters, one evening, one room) The Mountaintop promises a much bigger picture. We get to see Dr. King as a human—a great man, but a complicated one.
Directed by Center Stage’s new artistic director (the much-hailed Kwame Kwei-Armah), this production of The Mountaintop has been called “A must see theater event” by Chesapeake Taste and “Thrilling” by the City Paper. DC Metro Theatre Arts gave it Five Stars. With fantastic performances from two seasoned actors, this play is a great pick. Whether you’re looking for a way to honor Dr. King’s memory this month, or simply for a powerful night at the theater, you’re unlikely to leave disappointed.
The Mountaintop is playing at Center Stage through February 24th. For tickets and more information, visit www.centerstage.org. View the “Insights” video below for thoughts from director Kwame Kwei-Armah.
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