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Common Ground Theatre Determined to Keep Dr. Floyd Gaffney’s Work and Dream Alive – Kicks Off New Shows on September 30th

The Common Ground Theatre's Board of Directors unanimously decided to move forward on the productions that the late Dr. Floyd Gaffney had been working on, including, “Awaiting Judgment,” by Art Cribbs; “Christmas is Comin’ Uptown,” by Udell and Rose; and “Jazz Queens Cast Blue Shadows,” by Anthony Drummond and Floyd Gaffney.

San Diego, CA, September 22, 2007 --( The Common Ground Theatre’s (CGT’s) Board of Directors met earlier this month to reaffirm their commitment to continuing the work of the late Artistic Director, Dr. Floyd Gaffney, who passed away on July 19th, 2007. Dr. Gaffney directed more than 80 productions for the Southeast Community Theatre (later renamed Common Ground Theatre), engaging artists and audiences in African-American stories and traditions. His vision was to produce quality performing arts events as a bridge to the diverse San Diego Community and to create a common ground where people from all walks of life could stand as one.

The fifteen-member board, chaired by Dr. Dorothy Smith, announced that seven new members have joined the board including actress Monique Gaffney, daughter of Dr. Floyd Gaffney. “The knowledge and experience that Monique Gaffney brings will help facilitate the fulfillment of Floyd Gaffney’s powerful influence and legacy,” states Dr. Smith. Other new board members are Katie Barnhill, Barbara Fielding, Kathee Christensen, Carl Hebert, George Harris III, and Mark Jenkins.

The board unanimously decided to move forward on the productions that Dr. Gaffney had been working on, including, “Awaiting Judgment,” by Art Cribbs; “Christmas is Comin’ Uptown,” by Udell and Rose; and “Jazz Queens Cast Blue Shadows,” by Anthony Drummond and Floyd Gaffney.

Written by Art Cribbs and directed by Floyd Gaffney, “Awaiting Judgment” was the last production Dr. Gaffney directed. He was responsible for every detail until his untimely death. “Awaiting Judgment” premieres in San Diego at the Christian Fellowship Congregational United Church of Christ on September 30th, 2007 at 3:00 p.m. It will then be presented at St. Paul’s Cathedral on October 5th and 6th. The “Awaiting Judgment” cast will travel out of town in November for performances in San Marino, California and Green Bay, Wisconsin.

“Awaiting Judgment” brings together two 20th Century theologians, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who share theology and social justice convictions as they raise serious debates about their decisions. It is a production set in prison that challenges people of faith to engage and address social injustice. King and Bonhoeffer are housed in isolation, and each is given a separate cell from which they exchange ideas, memories, and decisions. The cast includes veteran actors Anthony Drummond as Martin Luther King, Jr., Craig Huisenga as Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Rhys Green as Narrator, played by Lawrence Brown at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

The holiday production, “Christmas is Comin’ Uptown,” directed by Charles Patmon, will run from November 29th through December 16th, 2007. Discussions with Lincoln High School are under way to involve Lincoln’s students and facilities in the production. Cast members will be selected by early October. Patmon was Floyd Gaffney’s Assistant Artistic Director in the production of “Josephine Tonight” last May.

“Jazz Queens Cast Blue Shadows” was written by Anthony Drummond and Dr. Floyd Gaffney. It celebrates the work of renowned vocalists Billy Holiday and Dinah Washington. The show premiers April 24th and runs through May 18, 2008 at the Lyceum Theatre. T. J. Johnson, Executive Director of Black Ensemble Theatre, will be the guest director for this production. Candace Ludlow Trotter, who starred in “Josephine Tonight,” will play the role of Dinah Washington. The Billy Holiday role will be cast within the next few weeks.

CGT’s board members have also pledged to continue Dr. Gaffney’s work with underserved youth through his beloved Youth Academy and arts education programs. CGT’s Youth Academy programs are supported by patrons, artists, educators, public/private organizations, foundations, volunteers and community contributions. The Neighborhood Unity Project of the Jacobs Foundation has provided a grant for this year’s program. Participating youth will also have the opportunity to complete an educational project in connection with the “Awaiting Judgment” production. Study questions have been developed and collaborations with elementary, middle, and high schools are pending.

The Common Ground Theatre seeks to create new works by and about people of African descent that entertain, educate and connect with all ages, cultures and backgrounds.

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Common Ground Theatre
Murugi Ngige
Carol Rainey

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