Geffen Playhouse Sets Residency for Top African American Theater Talent

Sterling K Brown Glenn Davis Brian Tyree Henry Andre Holland - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Geffen Playhouse (4)

Cast Iron Entertainment includes Sterling K. Brown, Glenn Davis, Brian Tyree Henry, Jon Michael Hill, André Holland and Oscar-winning writer Tarell Alvin McCraney.

The Geffen Playhouse in Los Angeles has established a new artist residency for Cast Iron Entertainment, a collective of top talent from film, TV and the stage who will engage in a collaborative and experimental story development process intended to incubate new theater projects.

The group includes two-time Emmy winner Sterling K. Brown (This Is Us, Waves), Glenn Davis (Billions, King James), Brian Tyree Henry (Atlanta, If Beale Street Could Talk), Jon Michael Hill (Elementary, Widows), André Holland (Selma, Moonlight) and writer Tarell Alvin McCraney, who won a best adapted screenplay Oscar for Moonlight and was nominated for a best play Tony Award last year for Choir Boy.

The artist residency will run for a period of one year, and while Cast Iron will be based at the Geffen, the group will have complete creative freedom, meaning their projects could land elsewhere.

"When Glenn and Tarell first approached us about hosting Cast Iron, we jumped at the opportunity to collaborate with this incredible group of artists," Geffen artistic director Matt Shakman said Wednesday in a statement. "Our goal is to provide Cast Iron with a creative think tank, free from the pressures of delivering a specific project on a specific timeline. They have complete autonomy to do what they do best."

Added Davis, "The six of us are constantly engaged in other projects all over the world, and the ability to carve out a time and place to come together, brainstorm and develop new theater is crucial to our process."

While all the collaborators have made names for themselves in film and television in recent years, they have notable backgrounds in stage work, the majority of them sharing history with McCraney. 

Before his breakout role on The People v. O.J. Simpson, Brown appeared in a number of productions at New York's Public Theater, including McCraney's The Brother/Sister Plays and Suzan-Lori Parks' Father Comes Home From the Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), which subsequently traveled to the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles.

Henry also appeared in The Brother/Sister Plays at the Public; he made his Broadway debut in the original cast of The Book of Mormon and more recently appeared opposite Chris Evans in Kenneth Lonergan's Lobby Hero, which earned him a Tony nomination.

Davis appeared in the world premiere of Rajiv Joseph's Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo at L.A.'s Kirk Douglas Theatre, later traveling with the production to Broadway, where he starred alongside Robin Williams. He also appeared off-Broadway in McCraney's Wig Out!

Holland has appeared on Broadway in August Wilson's Jitney and Joe Turner's Come and Gone and is an alumnus of the off-Broadway casts of both The Brother/Sister Plays and Wig Out! Holland also starred in the Steven Soderbergh film High Flying Bird, which was written by McCraney.

Hill was nominated for a Tony in 2009 for the Broadway premiere of Tracy Letts' Superior Donuts, which originated at Chicago's Steppenwolf Theatre, where he is an ensemble member. He returned to the New York stage in 2018 in the acclaimed Antoinette Nwandu drama, Pass Over.