Mar. 25-Apr. 3: New Victory to Present New York Premiere of Nambi E. Kelley’s JABARI DREAMS OF FREEDOM Featuring Verdale Vjhall Stinson Jr., Rantea Thompson, Colette Ambo, Marcus Siler, Joshua Perry, and Kevin Allen

New Victory is presenting the New York Premiere of Nambi E. Kelley’s Jabari Dreams of Freedom from March 25 through April 3, 2022 at The New Victory Theater, 209 W. 42nd St. in New York. Click here for tickets.

Nambi E. Kelley and Daniel Carlton. Photo by Lia Chang

Helmed by Daniel Carlton, Jabari Dreams of Freedom uses rap, freedom songs, hip-hop dance, history and humor to tell the story of a young Black boy from the South Side of Chicago who is afraid to leave the house. With his Forever President Barack Obama as a guide, Jabari escapes the violent reality of an encounter with the police through his colorful paintings where he meets children from the past who teach him how to be fearless. Written by New Victory LabWorks Artist Nambi E. Kelley (Toni Morrison’s Jazz, Native Son at The Duke on 42nd Street) and produced by First Woman, this play explores through the lessons of the children of the Civil Rights Era what it means for Black boys, and Black children, to live freely.

Photo by Abboye Lawrence
Verdale Vjhall Stinson Jr. in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence

Award-winning playwright Nambi E. Kelley was chosen by literary legend Toni Morrison to adapt her novel Jazz for the stage (Baltimore Center Stage, Marin Theatre Company). Her adaptation of Richard Wright’s Native Son has played across the country and premiered off-Broadway at The Duke on 42nd Street (The Acting Company). Nambi is a former playwright-in-residence at the National Black Theatre, Goodman Theatre and New Victory Theater. Awards include this year’s NNPN annual commission, the Prince Prize 2019 and a Dramatists Guild Foundation Writers Alliance Grant 2018-19. Nambi is a staff writer for a new show on Fox and for Showtime’s The Chi.

The cast features Verdale Vjhall Stinson Jr., Rantea Thompson, Colette Ambo, Marcus Siler, Joshua Perry, and Kevin Allen.

Reginald Keith Jackson as DAD, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI, and Colette Ambo as MOM. MOM and DAD try to get JABARI to go to school. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Reginald Keith Jackson as DAD, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI, and Colette Ambo as MOM. MOM and DAD try to get JABARI to go to school. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
 Colette Ambo as CLAUDETTE COLVIN refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Reginald Keith Jackson as A COP, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Colette Ambo as CLAUDETTE COLVIN refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Reginald Keith Jackson as A COP, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Verdale Vjhall Stinson Jr. in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
 Reginald Keith Jackson as BARACK OBAMA giving a speech with Colette Ambo in the background as MOM in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Reginald Keith Jackson as BARACK OBAMA giving a speech with Colette Ambo in the background as MOM in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Colette Ambo as CLAUDETTE COLVIN refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Reginald Keith Jackson as A COP, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Colette Ambo as CLAUDETTE COLVIN refusing to give up her seat on the bus, Reginald Keith Jackson as A COP, Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Verdale Vjhall Stinson Jr. in Jabari Dreams of Freedom. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI and Reginald Keith Jackson as BARACK OBAMA dancing together in Jabari's livestream. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Verdale Stinson Jr. as JABARI and Reginald Keith Jackson as BARACK OBAMA dancing together in Jabari’s livestream. Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Colette Ambo as RUBY BRIDGES steps forward into time becoming the Norman Rockwell painting "The Problem We All Live With." Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography
Colette Ambo as RUBY BRIDGES steps forward into time becoming the Norman Rockwell painting “The Problem We All Live With.” Photo by Abboye Lawrence Photography

The production team includes: Line Producer Alverneq Lindsay, Production Manager: Margaret Jumonville, Production Stage Manager Michaella Craver, ASM/Company Manager: Rantea Thompson, Scenic Designer Jessica Wardell, Media Designer Leo Lei, Lighting Designer David Lander, Music Director Joe Plummer, Costume Designer Yu’seph Cornish, Choreographer Cedric Greene, Casting Director Lawrence Evans, and Photographer Jane Feldman.

Purchase tickets for Jabari Dreams of Freedom at NewVictory.org.

The show will also be available on demand as of the first performance.

About the Company

First Woman is named for the East African creation story from which playwright and founder Nambi E. Kelley’s first name comes, and the digital version of Jabari Dreams of Freedom was the inaugural production. Nambi E. Kelley first developed Jabari Dreams of Freedom at Chicago Children’s Theatre in 2016, then continued developing it during her time as a New VictoryLabWorks Artist.

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