Jamil A. C. Mangan Talks Creating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Onstage in Martin Luther on Trial
December 20th, 2016
by Jamil A. C. Mangan
Jamil A. C. Mangan has played Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in two different productions of The Mountaintop and on a national tour of My Soul Is A Witness. So it's no wonder he leaves such a major impression as Dr. King in the acclaimed off-Broadway play Martin Luther on Trial. Dr. King is one of many characters present for the afterlife trial of Protestant revolutionary Martin Luther, along with The Devil, Hilter, Sigmund Freud, Rabbi Josel, St. Paul, and more.
BroadwayBox caught up with Mangan to talk about how he brought this historically significant icon to the stage.
Many people are unaware of the fact that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birth name is Michael King. King Sr. visited Berlin and was inspired by the 16th century German Reformist's fight for freedom from the Roman Catholic's Indulgences. When he returned home he changed both his and his son Michael's name to Martin Luther at age 5.
In portraying someone so recognizable and of historical significance it was important for me to humanize Dr. King Jr. rather than create a caricature.
I listened to many recordings of his speeches to capture the timber, tone and cadence of his voice. Having played MLK several times, I have read his autobiography and several bibliographies in an effort to dig deep, to understand not just King the preacher, but the man.
In Martin Luther On Trial, I also play Johann Tetzel and Holy Roman Emperor Charles. My research for these roles includes biographies on Martin Luther with great indexes, his 95 theses and Here I Stand. Because these are actual people who are less familiar to us, I had more of an opportunity to explore and create my own characters based off the factual information I obtained.
BroadwayBox asked for five important things I watched or read to prepare, and they are:
The Autobiography of Martin Luther King, Jr.
Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Theology of Resistance by Rufus Burrow, Jr.
In Remembrance of Dr. Martin Luther King (Documentary)
Martin Luther (Visionary Reformer) by Scott H. Hendrix
Here I Stand (A Life of Martin Luther) by Roland H. Bainton
Don't miss Jamil A. C. Mangan as Dr.Martin Luther King Jr. in Martin Luther on Trial at the Pearl Theatre through January 29.