Enter the Pacific Theater production of THE MOUNTAINTOP

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After delivering a prophetic speech during the Memphis sanitation workers’ strike, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. returns to his hotel, exhausted and frustrated. When Camae, a hotel maid, arrives with coffee and probing questions, she draws King into a conversation that spans time and space. With vivid theatrical imagination, Pulitzer-winning playwright Katori Hall shapes the last night of Dr. King’s life into an intimate fantasy and gives us a window into his hopes, vulnerabilities and fears. Powerful and surprisingly funny, The Mountaintop has garnered critical and audience acclaim since its London premiere in 2009.

“The greatness of Martin Luther King Jr., cultural icon and civil rights leader, is undeniable. His founding legacy has been repeatedly covered by mainstream historians and cultural documentarians,” said director Omari Newton. “The Mountaintop offers the opportunity to delve into the subtle inner workings of born man Michael King Junior. I am grateful to have the opportunity to lead both our exceptional creative team and the devoted audience of the Pacific Theatre, through an exhilarating journey to understand a sometimes flawed, frightened, yet ever resilient champion of social justice.”

The Mountaintop is a dream production for Shayna Jones, who has played Camae, since her days as an apprentice at the Pacific Theater. Ten years after first sharing the script with now-AD Kaitlin Williams, Shayna – a playwright and storyteller last seen in Pacific and Neworld Theatre’s Gather: Stories In Nature – steps into Camae’s apron. Kwesi Ameyaw, a familiar Vancouver face in film and television, will portray King. Playwright Katori Hall’s mother grew up around the corner from the Lorraine Motel and had begged to see King speak at Mason Temple that night in 1968.

But her mother – Hall’s grandmother – refused to let her go. “Big Mama…was like, ‘You know they’re going to bomb this church, girl. You gotta sit down and you’re not going to this church,'” Hall recounted in an interview. His mother stayed home, and the next day King was murdered. “It was the biggest regret of his life,” Hall says of his mother. It was this family history that gave Hall the idea for his play, even naming the maid Camae, after her mother, Carrie Mae. “I wanted to put them both in the same room and give my mom that opportunity that she didn’t have in 1968,” Hall said.

The show runs from May 20 to June 11. 8 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday with 2 p.m. Saturday morning at the Pacific Theater, 1440 W 12th Ave. 3 p.m. Sunday morning May 29 and June 5. Pay-what-you-can preview on May 19 at 8 p.m. For tickets ($15 to $36.50), call 604.731.5518 or visit pacifictheatre.org.

Performers Shayna Jones and Kwesi Ameyaw. Photo: Kathryn Nickford Photography.

Photos: Go inside the Pacific Theater production of THE MOUNTAINTOP
Performers Shayna Jones and Kwesi Ameyaw. Photo: Kathryn Nickford Photography.

Photos: Go inside the Pacific Theater production of THE MOUNTAINTOP
Shayna Jones. Photo: Kathryn Nickford Photography.

Photos: Go inside the Pacific Theater production of THE MOUNTAINTOP
Kwesi Ameyaw. Photo: Kathryn Nickford Photography.

Photos: Go inside the Pacific Theater production of THE MOUNTAINTOP
Performers Shayna Jones and Kwesi Ameyaw. Photo: Kathryn Nickford Photography.

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