The 40th anniversary production of Jamaican playwright Easton Lee’s “The Rope and The Cross” will be staged on Easter Sunday, April 21, at The New Vibe Lounge, in Rockville Centre, Long Island.
According to Rachel Damarr Williams, public relations coordinator of Sure Thing PR, the four-decade-old play, considered a classic in the pantheon of Caribbean literary works, is being revived as a “Staged Concert reading,” directed by award-winning Jamaican playwright and producer, David Heron (“Against His Will”).
There will be oneperformance of the production, at 3 pm on Easter Sunday.
Damarr Williams said the casting includes Nixon Cesar (Paul Calderon’s “Master of The Crossroads”) as Jesus; Emilio Evans (Layon Gray’s “Black Angels Over Tuskegee”) as Judas; Candice McKoy (“Intimate Apparel,” Portland Stage) as Mother of Judas; and Fleurette Harris (Heron’s “Against His Will”) as Mary, Mother of Jesus.
They will be joined by Lincoln Brown as narrator / shepherd; Kevin Elden as High Priest Annas; Fulton Hodges as The Blind One; Hector Lincoln as High Priest Caiphas; Fitgi Saint-Louis as Sarah’ and Osombu Thambo as John the Disciple.
Rounding out the cast are: Marsha-Ann Hay as Pontius Pilate and Joanna Pickering as Herod, representing the play’s gender-neutral casting of roles that have historically been portrayed by men,” Damarr Williams.
Set in both rural Jamaica and ancient Jerusalem, she said Lee’s “sweeping epic breaks with traditional presentations of Christ’s passion, humanizing Jesus and Judas as modern-day Jamaican men — young, angry and determined to overturn the status quo to create an equal and more just society for the world they live in.
“But, when the authorities around them intervene with deceptive and divisive tactics, the two young rebels tragically discover that the autocracy will stop at literally nothing to prevent change we can believe in,” Damarr Williams said.
Heron – a recent Caribbean Life Impact awardee, who appeared as Caiphas in a revival of the play several years ago — said “The Rope and The Cross” is a milestone in the history of theatre in Jamaica.
“Easton Lee, the playwright, initially wrote the piece as a small Easter production for his church in Siloah, Jamaica, the small rural village in which he grew up,” he said. “But something magical happened the first time it was performed on Easter weekend 1979.
“It was a life-changing, transformative experience,” he added. “The audience responded in a way not even Lee himself could have imagined.
“And for many years after that, ‘The Rope and The Cross’ became a Jamaican Easter season tradition, performed all over Jamaica and eventually overseas, and by a cast of some of the most iconic Jamaican actors of the time,” Heron continued.
Among those who appeared in “The Rope and The Cross” in various productions and revivals over the years were Leonie Forbes, Rooney Chambers, Fae Ellington, Bobby Ghisays, Grace McGhie, Alwyn Scott and Munair Zacca.
Heron said he is confident that the new generation of actors chosen for this New York revival will do the piece “very, very proud.”
The New Vibe Lounge is located at 60 North Park Ave. in Rockville Centre, Long Is. 11570.
Damarr Williams said there will be an audience talk-back and a complimentary Caribbean Easter buffet, courtesy of Golden Krust Caribbean restaurant, immediately after the performance.
Tickets for “The Rope and the Cross” are available at: thero