A Free Man of Color
By John Guare
Originally produced at Lincoln Center Theater , New York, NY.
October 21, 2010 through January 9, 2011
About the Premiere Production: In fall 2010, Lincoln Center Theater (LCT) will present the world premiere of John Guare’s A Free Man of Color. This high-spirited work is a raucous romp through 1801 New Orleans, a freewheeling, free-loving city whose inhabitants proudly celebrate the different shades of their skin. Bursting with Guare’s distinctive mix of outrageous comedy, sharp satire, and scintillating turns of phrase, the play breathlessly follows the randy escapades of Jacques Cornet—self-styled playwright, fashion plate, sexual adventurer, and New Orleans’ richest citizen—as he hops in and out of the beds of his best friends’ wives. When husbands discover that they are cuckolds, they give chase. But it is historical forces that eventually catch Cornet and enslave him. Guare introduces into his narrative real-life figures—Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon and Josephine, Talleyrand, King Carlos IV, Meriwether Lewis, among others—whose actions ultimately shape America’s destiny and, in so doing, annul the freedoms of New Orleans’ non-white populace.
Scheduled for an 11½-week engagement in our 1,050-seat Vivian Beaumont Theater, A Free Man of Color will be directed by George C. Wolfe. The production will be designed by David Rockwell (set), Ann Hould-Ward (costumes), Jules Fisher & Peggy Eisenhower (lighting), and Scott Stauffer (sound). Composer Jeanine Tesori will write the show’s original music. The Theater will announce casting this summer.
Artistic Statement: A Free Man of Color strikes me as playwriting on a large scale that is ideally suited to LCT and our inventive and varied use of the Beaumont stage. John’s focal character, Jacques Cornet, is A Free Man of Color living in 1801 New Orleans—a mixed-race playwright whose extraordinary sexual prowess has him satisfying all of his best friends’ wives—and his play encompasses real-life notables as it dramatizes the machinations among France, America, and Spain that led to the Louisiana Purchase. Only John Guare could have written this multilayered fantasia on race, politics, history, and sexuality—themes that have preoccupied him over the course of his 40-year career—and write it partly in verse, partly in prose. A Free Man of Color is uniquely John’s: a freewheeling sex romp and sprawling American saga infused with style, wit, and deeply serious issues.
We have a longstanding relationship with John Guare. Over the past 25 years LCT has produced four of his plays (The House Of Blue Leaves, Six Degrees Of Separation, Four Baboons Adoring The Sun, Chaucer In Rome). He is also one of the Executive Editors of our magazine, the Lincoln Center Theater Review. It is a pleasure to welcome John back to the Beaumont, the scene of a number of his past successes, with his most ambitious and, we think, his best play in years. And I believe he has a perfect partner for this project in George C. Wolfe. - From Artistic Director Andre Bishop
Additional Funders: The National Actors Theatre Foundation
Clybourne Park Wins 2011 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Playbill, April 18, 2011