H4 is the first black Shakespeare film. It transports Shakespeare′s Henry IV plays to contemporary Los Angeles to explore political struggles in the black community. Performed in Shakespeare′s original language, H4 will appeal to Shakespearean aficionados and newcomers alike.
Actor/producer Harry Lennix and scholar/screenwriter Dr. Ayanna Thompson (George Washington University) attended the screening. Earlier in the day, Lennix and Thompson also engaged in an informal discussion with Rhodes students, faculty, and staff (3:30pm, Rhea Lounge).
Reviews: Show Biz Chicago; Antagony & Ecstasy; Memphis Flyer: "Director Paul Quinn′s brave embrace of theatrical device and nonrealism should be an inspiration, and possibly even a model, for filmmakers looking to tell huge stories with miniscule budgets. . . . Much ado has been made of Lennix′s dedication to H4, a film that the Shakespeare aficionado has described as a labor of love, but he′s one player in a strong ensemble that includes Keith David, Heavy D, Amad Jackson, and Geno Monteiro making a star turn as Hotspur, the rebel knight." The Bloodshot Eye: "Also in town will be Harry Lennix and screenwriter Ayanna Thompson of "H4," an adaptation of Shakespeare′s "Henry IV" set in modern inner-city Los Angeles. You may not recognize Lennix′s name but you definitely will recognize his face; imposing and authoritative, the actor has a string of impressive credits."
Harry Lennix currently stars as FBI head Harry Cooper in NBC′s action-thriller "The Blacklist." Lennix is an accomplished film, television and stage actor who appears in the Warner Bros. feature "Man of Steel." Other recent credits include "Emily Owens, M.D.," "Dollhouse" and "Little Britain," as well as the critically acclaimed series "24."
Lennix made his Broadway debut in August Wilson′s Tony-nominated play "Radio Golf." He was seen on the big screen in Working Title′s "State of Play." In 2006, Lennix starred in the Golden Globe-nominated ABC show "Commander in Chief" as Jim Gardner, Chief of Staff to the POTUS. His other appearances include the Oscar-winning film "Ray," "The Matrix: Reloaded" and "The Matrix: Revolutions." Lennix received critical acclaim and a Golden Satellite Award as Aaron in Julie Taymor′s "Titus," starring Anthony Hopkins. A host of other film credits include "Across the Universe," "Barbershop 2" and "Love and Basketball." Lennix starred as the legendary Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. in Showtime′s "Keep the Faith, Baby" for which he won a Black Reel Award and was nominated for both an NAACP Image Award and a Golden Satellite Award. He continued to make his presence known with recurring roles on "ER" and "Diagnosis Murder" and guest-starring appearances on shows such as "Law & Order: Los Angeles."
Lennix has directed and appeared in stage productions across the country, including the Northlight Theater Company′s production of "Permanent Collection" at the Greenway Arts Alliance in Los Angeles, which, under his directing consultation, was remounted at Los Angeles′ Kirk Douglas Theater. He directed the stage version of Robert Townsend′s "The Five Heartbeats," which received three NAACP Theater Award nominations, and "The Glass Menagerie" for the Steppenwolf Theater Company. As a stage actor, Lennix was the first distinguished recipient of an Ollie Award for his portrayal of Malcolm X at the Goodman Theater in Chicago and two Joseph Jefferson Citations for his roles in "Ma Rainey′s Black Bottom" and "Caught in the Act." He starred in the title role of August Wilson′s "King Hedley II" at the Mark Taper Forum. In 2001, he was part of the first American company to be invited to the Royal Shakespeare Company in the production of "Cymbeline." View his online discussion with Ayanna Thompson, "Acting While Black" (ASU).
Dr. Ayanna Thompson is Professor of English at George Washington University. She specializes in Renaissance drama and focuses on issues of race and performance. She is the author of two books: Passing Strange: Shakespeare, Race, and Contemporary America (Oxford University Press, 2011) and Performing Race and Torture on the Early Modern Stage (Routledge, 2008), and the editor of two books: Weyward Macbeth: Intersections of Race and Performance (Palgrave Macmillan, 2010) (co-edited with Scott Newstok) and Colorblind Shakespeare: New Perspectives on Race and Performance (Routledge, 2006). View her online lecture, "Race and Shakespearean Performance" (UMBC).
Co-sponsored by African American Studies, Film Studies, and the Black Student Association at Rhodes College; African and African American Studies at the University of Memphis; and presented in collaboration with Indie Memphis and Hattiloo Theatre.