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"American Moor" Comes to Tallahassee

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Tallahassee’s Southern Shakespeare Company kicks off a new year of performances this week. The first show features a famous artist who is bringing to the stage his unique and personal take on a Shakespeare classic.

The announcement came from Laura Johnson who is the Southern Shakespeare Company's executive director.

"As a nationally-acclaimed and Emmy-nominate actor, Keith Hamilton Cobb I think brings an extraordinary thing and his message to Tallahassee with his production 'American Moor,'" she said.

Cobb's acting credits include roles in "Andromeda", "All My Children", "The Young and the Restless" and "Noah's Arc." Over the years he's also been cast in the title role of Shakespeare's play "Othello" numerous times. And he said that is what led him to create his original production entitled "American Moor."

"I'm drawing parallels between the plight of this particular character because I've had to look at him so long and so often in my life and the situation that black American men are in in this country in general."

Cobb said that Includes the persistent inability of so many white people to look beyond the superficial characterizations of people of color. Cobb will perform "American Moor" this Thursday and Friday evening (1/12-13) on the stage of Florida A&M University's Lee Hall Auditorium. Luther Wells who heads FAMU's Essential Theatre Program said Cobb will also spend many hours this week working with the school's drama students, sharing his techniques and vision for making the stage a crucible for change.

"Those things are always very important to us as artists to speak to the community and to issues that are happening in our society so that art is speaking to things that are happening in life," Wells remarked.

Cobb said this takes his production of "American Moor" to a level even he never envisioned.

"This in Tallahassee with Southern Shakespeare and FAMU is the first time we've done anything quite like this and I'm very excited about it."

Cobb added he's also excited about a third performance of "American Moor" being hosted by the Village Square at The Moon. Liz Joyner is Village Square executive director.

"When we found out what Southern Shakespeare was doing with FAMU, we were really excited about the possibility of teaming it up with our series with Leon County 'Created Equal' Wednesday evening at The Moon,” Joyner said. “It'll be a conversation (and a) preview performance of the Thursday and Friday night full performances at FAMU."

Cobb hoped his creation will spark an ongoing dialog about race in Florida's Capital City.

"This is a thing that people need to see and I'm thrilled that Ms. Johnson and Southern Shakespeare and Mr. Wells at FAMU are giving me this opportunity and working with us to engender this discussion."

And after Wednesday's Village Square presentation at The Moon, Southern Shakespeare's Laura Johnson said the action moves to FAMU.

"The full performances of 'American Moor' will be at Lee Hall Auditorium on Thursday, January 12 and Friday, January 13 at 7:30 p.m."

Friday's performance will be preceded by a special reception hosted by Tallahassee Community College at FAMU's Meek-Eaton Black Archives. The website: southern-shakes-dot-org has more information about all of the happenings connected with Keith Hamilton Cobb's visit this week.

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Tom Flanigan has been with WFSU News since 2006, focusing on covering local personalities, issues, and organizations. He began his broadcast career more than 30 years before that and covered news for several radio stations in Florida, Texas, and his home state of Maryland.

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