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Joshua Jackson is breaking out his bucket list, checking it twice and looking ahead to 2016 when he will mark another milestone with a stint on stage in New York. And it couldn’t come at a better time, he says.
The actor, who currently stars on Showtime’s The Affair, will tackle Smart People, which examines the role of race in the quest for love, achievement and identity. Tony Award-winner Kenny Leon is directing the production based on Lydia R. Diamond’s four-character play.
The gig marks Jackson’s New York stage debut (he acted opposite Patrick Stewart in London in 2005 for the West End play A Life in the Theatre), and he’ll step out alongside Mahershala Ali, Anne Son and Tessa Thompson. Previews begin Jan. 26 at Second Stage Theatre with an official opening set for Feb. 11. The play centers on Harvard intellectuals who are drawn into a web of social and sexual politics on the eve of President Obama’s first election.
“I read the script and I thought to myself that I’m grappling with this right now as we’re trying to figure this out as a society,” he tells THR. “The play is — if there is such a thing — a lightly comedic meditation on race relations and the dynamic of privilege in America. It’s challenging and smart and it approaches the subject with enough humor because it could get maudlin very fast. I want to know what the answers are to these questions, if there are any answers. It just feels like the right thing right now.”
The right now is now because the U.S. continues to grapple with issues of discrimination and police violence. Most recently, the Black Lives Matter movement has moved its attention toward the Midwest, where tensions remain high after a white Minneapolis police officer fatally shot unarmed black man Jamar Clark on Nov. 15, and newly released dashboard camera footage shows the moment when Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in October 2014.
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