Tom's guest today is the playwright, director and actor, Kwame Kwei Armah, OBE. He has been the artistic director of Baltimore Center Stage since 2011, but he will soon be moving on. After his final show at Center Stage, which opens tomorrow night, he’s heading home to London, where he has taken the helm of the storied Young Vic Theatre.
During his tenure here in Baltimore, he produced three of the best-selling shows in the theater’s history. As a playwright, Mr. Kwei-Armah premiered several new works here in Charm City, and he made great strides in diversifying the Center Stage audience. He also oversaw a major, $28 million renovation of the theater’s Calvert Street home, and in his spare time, in 2012, Queen Elizabeth II made him an Officer of the British Empire for his service to drama.
His final production at Center Stage is Soul, the STAX Musical -- the world premiere of a work by playwright Matthew Benjamin that Mr. Kwei-Armah is directing. It tells the story of Memphis-based Stax Records, and chronicles the rise of artists like Otis Redding, The Staple Singers, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & The MG’s, Wilson Pickett and others—some of the great and early progenitors of Soul and R&B music.
Midday's theater critic J Wynn Rousuck joins Kwame Kwei-Armah and Tom Hall in Studio A. We streamed this conversation live on the WYPR Facebook page. If you missed that, click here to check out the video.