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Benefit Performance of Tony Kushner’s “The Henry Box Brown Play” Will Support NYU’s Graduate Acting Program

April 27, 2011

The Graduate Acting Program at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts will present a special one-time-only benefit concert staging of playwright and alumnus Tony Kushner’s play The Henry Box Brown Play:  Political-Historical-Doggerel-Vaudeville.  Directed by the chair of the program, Mark Wing-Davey, it will be performed Sunday, May 15 at 5:00 P.M. at the Fifth Floor Theatre, 111 Second Avenue, New York City. 

This will be a unique opportunity for fans and completists of Kushner’s work to see a largely unknown work by America’s premier playwright.  The benefit is a remount of Graduate Acting’s sold-out engagement last fall of the previously unproduced 1992 play.  The honorary chair of the event is actor and alumnus Philip Seymour Hoffman.  Proceeds from the performance will be used for Graduate Acting student scholarships.

All tickets for the event are priced at $250.00 and are tax-deductible.  Tickets can be ordered by phone at 212-998-1921, or e-mail Hannah Smith at

The Henry Box Brown Play, set in England’s industrial north in the 1850s, is based on the true story of a Virginian slave who found his way to freedom by shipping himself in a box delivered into the hands of Philadelphian abolitionists.  Brown made a career for himself touring Great Britain in a musicalized version of his story, while promoting a boycott of Southern cotton.  Kushner’s play explores the repercussions of one particular performance in the Northern mill town of Todmorden, when Brown’s extraordinary entertainment excites an unpredictable outburst of political passion.

Performing will be members of Graduate Acting’s graduating class of 2011.  Included will be songs with lyrics by Kushner and music by Wing-Davey and student Matt Citron (’11).  A post-show discussion will immediately follow the performance and feature Kushner, Wing-Davey, and Mary Schmidt Campbell, dean of the Tisch School of the Arts.

Laurence Maslon, associate arts professor in Graduate Acting, noted: “The Henry Box Brown Play will serve as the perfect exclamation point to the celebration of Tony Kushner in New York City, highlighted by the ‘Tony Kushner season’ at the Signature Theater Company, which produced the acclaimed revival of  Angels in America, and the New York premiere of a new play (co-produced with the Public Theater), The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures and the forthcoming The Illusion, Kushner's adaptation of Pierre Corneille.”

The collaboration between Graduate Acting and Tony Kushner has been the result of an ongoing relationship, begun when Kushner was an MFA directing graduate of Tisch (’85) and continuing when Wing-Davey directed the A.C.T. production of Kushner’s Angels in America in 1994.


For more than 40 years, Tisch School of the Arts has drawn on the vast resources of New York City and New York University to create an extraordinary training ground for the individual artist and scholar of the arts. As one of the nation's leading centers of undergraduate and graduate study in the performing and cinematic arts, Tisch offers programs of study that incorporate state-of-the-art facilities; a collaboratively oriented community of award-winning faculty members; internship opportunities with established professionals; and the incomparable artistic and cultural resources of New York City. Illustrious Tisch alumni include Alec Baldwin, Marcia Gay Harden, Tony Kushner, Ang Lee, Spike Lee, Debra Messing, Josh Radnor, M. Night Shyamalan, Morgan Spurlock, Oliver Stone and George Wolfe.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Tisch School of the Arts

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Richard Pierce | (212) 998-6796

Benefit Performance of Tony Kushner’s “The Henry Box Brown Play” Will Support NYU’s Graduate Acting Program

Korey Jackson as Henry Box Brown in "The Henry Box Brown Play" by Tony Kushner, directed by Mark Wing-Davey. Photo by Ella Bromblin

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