The Public’s Under the Radar Festival, TOAST ingeniously weaves major characters from black oral narratives into a gripping story about a group of inmates fighting to keep their minds free amidst the 1971 riots that rocked Attica Prison.
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TOAST is an electrifying new play by acclaimed spoken word artist and Tony Award-winning writer Lemon Andersen (The Public’s County of Kings: The Beautiful Struggle, HBO’s “Def Poetry”), directed by Andersen’s County of Kings collaborator Elise Thoron. A Public Theater commission first presented at The Public’s Under the Radar Festival, TOAST ingeniously weaves major characters from black oral narratives into a gripping story about a group of inmates fighting to keep their minds free amidst the 1971 riots that rocked Attica Prison. After 27 years served for murder in Attica’s D-Block, Willie Green, aka Dolomite, has become an unlikely father figure to his cellmates, folklore heroes like Jesse James, Hobo Ben, Annabelle Jones, Stackolee and Hard Rock. Though word is brewing throughout Attica that a riot is coming, Dolomite would rather not get involved. But when one of the youngest inmates in their block is viciously beaten by guards for protesting prison conditions, Dolomite has to decide whether to join the riots or lock himself in his cell and hope for a promised parole date and the chance to taste freedom. Honoring the spoken word narratives recited in pool halls, bars and prisons across America by generations of black poets, TOAST is a stunning new play about men trying to live free in a system—and a world—designed to keep them chained. TOAST was developed, in part, at the Sundance Institute Theatre Program. Funding for the development of TOAST is provided by Time Warner Inc., and the MAP Fund, a program of Creative Capital supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.