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In "The Mountaintop," MLK is More Man Than Myth
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February 4, 2013
"Katori Hall chose to depict King as--in her words--'the man, not the myth'." - J. Wynn Rousuck
On April 3, 1968, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his famous last speech often known as "The Mountaintop speech." The next day he was assassinated on the balcony of the Lorraine Motel in Memphis.
The setting of the play The Mountaintop is King's room at the Lorraine Motel on the night of April 3.
As Maryland Morning theater critic J. Wynn Rousuck explains, The Mountaintop playwright Katori Hall was inspired to write the play from her mother's inability to see King speak for the last time in Memphis.
While the setting is grounded in history, the interaction between King and Camae--a maid at the Lorraine Motel--is purely fictional. Hall also created her own interpretation of the civil rights leader.
"Her vision of Martin Luther King is a man who smokes, who's not averse to taking a drink, who's a little flirty and who even curses a bit," Rousuck says. "It's a choice that hasn't always set well with theatergoers."
Hall's artistic choices have set well with some critics. The play and versions of the cast have been honored with numerous awards.
CENTERSTAGE's production of "The Mountaintop" is the play's Baltimore premiere.
"The Mountaintop" continues at CENTERSTAGE through Feb. 24.
by Katori Hall
directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
Dr. King......Shawn Hamilton