Acclaimed Broadway Director to Speak at U of L
Leading Broadway director Kenny Leon will speak at the University of Louisville today. The public event, styled on “Inside the Actor’s Studio,” is sponsored by U of L's African American Theatre Program and begins at 5 p.m. at the Playhouse on Third Street.Leon is the co-founder and artistic director of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre, a company dedicated to producing and preserving the diversity of African American theater. He directed the final two Broadway productions of August Wilson's ten-play Pittsburgh Cycle, "Gem of the Ocean" and "Radio Golf." Leon also opened the first Broadway revival of Wilson’s “Fences,” starring Denzel Washington and Viola Davis, and received a Tony Award nomination for his direction. He recently remade the film “Steel Magnolias” for Lifetime with an African American cast, including Phylicia Rashad and Alfre Woodard.In an interview for WFPL's Strange Fruit podcast, Leon says he began his theater work after law school, teaching drama in prisons, nursing homes and with the homeless. He credits his political science background with making him a more informed and engaged artist.“All the theater I have done, the first question I always ask myself is why am I doing this? And that finds its way into the choices I make," says Leon. "I’m doing the art in an effort to touch people, to reach people, to change people’s lives.”
Leon has worked with top African American stage talent, from Academy Award nominees and winners like Washington and Davis to singers like Jill Scott. He told Strange Fruit that his job is to help his actors get to where they need to be, regardless of their backgrounds.
“There are different roads to get to any one destination," he says. "Not everyone is meant to study at NYU, not everyone is meant to be at Clark College in Atlanta, or in Louisville at the theater center there. So I meet the actors where they are."Listen to the full episode of "Strange Fruit."