This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001




UNSPEAKABLE looks at the tumultuous life and career of comedian Richard Pryor

Apollo Theater Soundstage
253 West 125th St.
November 1-3, $20

One of the most influential and controversial comics of his generation, Richard Pryor was not afraid to take on difficult issues of race and class in his brilliant stand-up routines. Born in Peoria, Illinois, in 1940, Pryor made such films as Richard Pryor: Live on the Sunset Strip, Blue Collar, and Silver Streak and such records as That N*gger’s Crazy and Outrageous, quickly earning a reputation for someone who says exactly what’s on his mind. Earlier this year, Marina Zenovich’s documentary Richard Pryor: Omit the Logic played at the Tribeca Film Festival and on Showtime, and now comes Unspeakable: A Dramatic Fantasia, a stage show inspired by Pryor’s tumultuous life, which ended in 2005 at the age of sixty-five. Written by Rod Gailes OBC and James Murray Jackson, Jr., Unspeakable is a work in development that explores Pryor’s life from childhood to death, focusing on the era between 1967 and 1982. Jackson, Jr., who was named Outstanding Lead Actor for playing the role in a 2005 version at the New York International Fringe Festival, is reprising the part this weekend at the Apollo, with Gailes OBC directing. The cast also includes Benja Kay Thomas, Margot White, Alvin Keith, Nedra McClyde, Adam Couperthwaite, and Nyahale A. Allie. “Richard Pryor broke down barriers, and stereotypes once thought unimaginable, said the unspeakable and did the unthinkable,” Gailes OBC said in a statement. “He taught us by holding a mirror to the conscience of America while self-destructing, and imploding on his own pain and grief. Though flawed in life, he lived uninhibited onstage. He was part preacher, social commentator, political activist, addict, and a whole lot of devil.” Unspeakable runs November 1-3 at the Apollo Theater’s Soundstage; tickets are $20.

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