Ep. 79: The Black Emperor of Broadway

In 2017, Adrienne Earle Pender’s play “N” premiered at Theatre in the Park. Inspired by the true story of her distant cousin, Charles S. Gilpin, and his relationship with Eugene O’Neill, the play chronicles the relationship with two men who, according to Pender, were “brilliant, temperamental, opinionated, and alcoholics.”

Pender’s play inspired a movie, The Black Emperor of Broadway, which premieres this week on video on demand. Ian Bowater wrote the screenplay and appears in the film. Hear what Pender and Bowater have to say about reclaiming history and the significance of sharing Gilpin’s story now.

The Black Emperor of Broadway will be available to view on video on demand September 15th. For more information visit: https://www.theblackemperor.com/.

About the Guests

Adrienne Earle Pender began her writing career in 2001. Her first play, The Rocker, was a finalist in the Dayton Playhouse Future Fest 2002 Festival of New Works in Dayton, Ohio. The Rocker made its world premier in February 2004 at Theater in the Park in Raleigh, North Carolina. Her play, Stone Face was a selection in the Reader’s Theater at the 2003 National Black Theater Festival, and was an alternate selection for the 2004 Edward Albee 12th Annual Last Frontier Theatre Conference in Valdez, Alaska. Her short play, The Murder of Love was selected for the Short Play Lab at the same conference. Additionally, Banana Split Lady made its debut at the 1st Annual Great Plains Theatre Conference in Nebraska. Her play, Somewhere In Between, had a staged reading at the Drama Book Shop in New York in 2010; a staged reading at Wordsmyth Theater in Houston, TX in May, 2014; and Somewhere In Between received a full production from Theater in the Park in Raleigh in September 2014. Her most recent play, “N,” about African-American actor Charles S. Gilpin, was a finalist in the Dayton Playhouse 2016 Future Fest competition. “N” received a workshop and a staged reading at the Eugene O’Neill Festival in Danville, CA in September 2016, and made its world premiere in February 2017 at Theatre in the Park in Raleigh, NC. The play inspired the independent film, The Black Emperor of Broadway. Pender received a Tao House Fellowship by the Eugene O’Neill Foundation in September 2015. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University, and is a member of the Dramatist Guild.

Ian Bowater is an actor, writer and director. He began in Theatre-in-Education and later became Associate Director at Theatre Royal, Stratford East in London. Moving to the Shaw Theatre in London he was its director for five years. Another move took him to L.A. where he spent twenty-four years working in the film industry. He was Director of Creative Affairs at Odyssey, before plying his trade as a screenwriter. He has written over thirty screenplays for producers in the U.S., England, France, Germany and the Netherlands. including “Murder On The Cape” which will be on Netflix next year. Since relocating to Chapel Hill five years ago, he’s worked with Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern, the Arts Center Carrboro and Theatre in the Park.

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