Roger Guenveur Smith: A Huey P. Newton Story
Presented by The Susan and Donald Newhouse Center for the Humanities at Collins Cinema, Wellesley College
March 3, 2011
Roger Guenveur Smith is an award-winning writer, actor, and director. His solo pieces for international stage include A. Huey P. Newton Story and Frederick Douglass NOW. Some of his other notable pieces for the stage are: Christopher Columbus 1992, In Honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat, Who Killed Bob Marley?, and Inside The Creole Mafia (with Mark Broyard). His film roles include the stuttering hero Smiley in Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing in addition to an eclectic range of characters in Hamlet, Malcolm X, Get On the Bus, Eve’s Bayou, He Got Game, and American Gangster, which earned him a nomination for a Screen Actor’s Guild Award. His featured performances for HBO include roles in K Street, Oz, and Unchained Memories: Readings from the Slave Narratives. He is a graduate of Occidental College and the Yale School of Drama.
Writer and actor Roger Guenveur Smith will discuss A Huey P. Newton Story, which he wrote and performed. The Peabody Award-winning film based on Smith’s Obie Award-winning solo stage performance of the same name was documented with multiple cameras by Spike Lee in front of a live studio audience in New York. Scored by Marc Anthony Thompson (aka Chocolate Genius) with featured instrumentation by Branford Marsalis, the film captures the vitality of Smith’s stage portrayal of the late Newton, the co-founder of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. The New York Times describes Smith’s portrayal as “dead-on … from the reedy voice to the posture of defiance” and the narrative (drawn mostly from the activist’s writings and interviews) as “a ride through the theme park of Newton's strange life, a life full of sound and fury.”