Dear fam[ily] I am so excited to share with you that the life of the legendary, Academy Award-winning actor, filmmaker, activist, and human-rights trailblazer Sidney Poitier is set to be a new Broadway play produced by Ron Gillyard (Born for This, Mr. Soul); Poitier’s daughter, filmmaker Anika Poitier; and Barry Krost.
Chosen by the Poitier family, Charles Randolph-Wright (author of Blue, director of Roundabout Theatre Company’s critically acclaimed revival of Alice Childress’ Trouble in Mind, and the upcoming American Prophet: Frederick Douglass In His Own Words) has penned SIDNEY, based on Poitier’s best-selling autobiography The Measure of a Man.
That’s how you do it — Charles Randolph-Wright. I am not mad at you sir.
The family has also selected Tony Award winner Ruben Santiago-Hudson (author, director, and star of Lackawanna Blues, director of the Tony-winning Broadway premiere of August Wilson’s Jitney, director of the upcoming Broadway premiere of Dominique Morisseau’s Skeleton Crew) to direct.
SIDNEY dramatizes Mr. Poitier’s life, from his upbringing on Cat Island in the Bahamas to his rise to become America’s most revered actor and activist. With his unique career, Sidney Poitier helped change many racial attitudes that had persisted in this country for centuries. He built the bridges and opened the doors for countless artists in succeeding generations. He is an actor who stood for hope, for excellence, and who has given happiness to millions of people around the world. Paying tribute to Sidney Poitier in 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “He is a man of great depth, a man of great social concern, a man who is dedicated to human rights and freedom.” The play explores the nature of sacrifice and commitment, pride and humility, and the price for artistic integrity. Poitier has inspired many artists in multiple fields including encouraging Alice Childress to begin writing when they were both members at American Negro Theatre.
Playwright Charles Randolph-Wright says, “The first time I met Sidney Poitier was decades ago when he saw a show I co-wrote and directed in Los Angeles. We went to dinner and I literally could not speak. He said to me, ‘If in any way I have inspired you, you have more than paid me back with what I saw this evening.’ I have held onto those words my entire career. And now to place his astonishing life on stage is the ultimate challenge and the ultimate joy. To have the trust of Mr. Poitier and his family is one of the greatest gifts I have been given – what an honor to get to dramatize the true measure of this monumental man. I look forward to the world discovering the astounding person that is behind one of our most prodigious heroes, a man who continues to inspire.”
Director Ruben Santiago-Hudson says, “Sir Sidney Poitier is clearly one of the greatest actors in the history of cinema. His integrity and standard of excellence set the bar for generations to come. It is an honor to be a part of celebrating the incomparable Sidney Poitier’s monumental career in this play but also the man and his extraordinary life.”
Published in 2000, The Measure of a Man: A Spiritual Autobiography spent several weeks on The New York Times’ list of bestsellers, and the audio edition, narrated by Mr. Poitier, won a Grammy Award for best-spoken word album. In 2007, Oprah Winfrey relaunched her Book Club with the memoir.
Fam[ily] you would have had to live your entire life under a very, very big rock not to know anything about the great Sidney Poitier. He was kicking ass and taking names during a period in U.S. history when aggression and racism were out in the open and considered normal behavior. Some of his credits include Cry, the Beloved Country, Something of Value, The Defiant Ones, Pressure Point, A Patch of Blue, To Sir With Love, In The Heat of the Night, Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, Lilies of the Field, and many others.
As an Academy Award-winning actor, director, producer, best-selling author, and diplomat, Sir Sidney Poitier’s career of more than 60 years has garnered him many honors and awards, among them, being knighted by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II in 1968, awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Barack Obama in 2009, the Spingarn Award in 2015 by the NAACP and the 2016 BAFTA Fellowship Award. His second book, a spiritual autobiography titled, The Measure of a Man, reached New York Times Bestseller status when originally published in 2000 and achieved that rank again in 2007 when chosen for Oprah’s Book Club. His third literary work, Life Beyond Measure: Letters To My Great-Granddaughter was released in Spring 2008. He completed his fourth literary work, Montaro Caine, a novel, in March of 2013, which has been lauded by critics and fans alike with wonderful reviews and accolades.
The recipient of four honorary doctorate degrees from institutions of higher learning, he was honored in 2006 at the 59th Cannes Film Festival, when the country of France designated him a Commander of Arts and Letters.
His second Oscar for “extraordinary performances and unique presence on the screen and for representing the industry with dignity, style, and intelligence” was awarded in 2002. Other awards include the BAFTA, three Golden Globes (among them the Cecil B. DeMille Award), an American Film Institute’s Lifetime Achievement; the Kennedy Center Honors Lifetime Achievement; the Screen Actors Guild Lifetime Achievement; five NAACP Image Awards, a Grammy Award for best-spoken word album and two Golden Bear Awards from the Berlin Film Festival as well as the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Chaplin Award in 2011. In 2007 he resigned his ambassadorships to Japan from the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization. Sir Sidney is president and CEO of Verdon Cedric Productions. He is married to Joanna Shimkus Poitier and is a father to six daughters, grandfather to nine grandchildren, and a great grandfather to three great-grandchildren.
The casting, creative team, and production timeline will be announced at a later date.