Ishmael Reed's 'The Final Version' At Nuyorican Poets

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Ishmael Reed


During its 40th anniversary season, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe will present the world premiere of acclaimed writer Ishmael Reed's new play "The Final Version".

The play follows Lee Ransom, a writer who struggles with tensions between Communist ideology and commercial success from the 1930s through the 1960s. Ishmael Reed's poetry, prose and plays have been honored with fellowships from the MacArthur and Guggenheim Foundations and the National Endowment for the Arts; his work has also been nominated for the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Awards.

"The Final Version" stars Rome Neal as Lee Ransom. Neal, who has been recognized with an Obie and multiple Audelco awards for his theatrical work, also directs the production.

The play is set in 1939 and 1965. Lee Ransom is an African-American writer who has been sponsored by the American Communist Party. When the Party founders in the late 1930s, Ransom compromises his ideological stance by cutting radical Communist characters from the manuscript of his novel, a move that wins him a publishing contract and material success. In 1965, a publisher asks to release the original novel.

Ransom fights with his conscience and with the two excised characters about whether to accept the new publishing deal. The Final Version" explores the complex intersections between racial identity and liberal ideology, and examines how New York City's leftist culture has changed since the 1930s.

"The Final Version" also features performances by Lynae De Priest, Melissa Harlow, Dawn Murphy, Molly Elizabeth Parker, Stephen Powell, Connie Stewart, Temesgen Tocruray and Robert Turner.

"The Final Version" opens Thursday, December 12 and runs most Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons through January 19 (23 total performances) at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe (236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B and C in Manhattan).

Thursday, Friday and Saturday performances start at 7PM; Sunday performances start at 3pm. Admission is $20 in advance, $25 at the door, and $18 for students and seniors at the door. Tickets and directions are available at or by calling 212-780-9386.

Ishmael Reed's plays, poetry, essays and novels have earned him international acclaim and numerous awards. His satirical writing has also generated significant controversy. His novels include The Freelance Pallbearers, Mumbo Jumbo and The Terrible Twos.  Many of Ishmael Reed's previous plays have been staged at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe and directed by Rome Neal; these plays include Mother Hubbard, Savage Wilds, Hubba City, The Preacher and the Rapper, The C Above C Above High C, and Body Parts.  About Body Parts, Backstage Magazine wrote that "Reed's genius shines through director Rome Neal's energetic bare-bones production."

Rome Neal received an Obie Award with Nuyorican Poets Cafe founder Miguel Algarin for excellence in theatre. Over the years, Rome has received five Audelco Awards for directing, acting and light design. Neal also received the National Black Theatre Festival's coveted Lloyd Richards Director's Award.

Over the last 40 years, the Nuyorican Poets Cafe has served as a home for groundbreaking works of poetry, music, theater and visual arts. A multicultural and multi-arts institution, the Cafe champions the use of spoken word and music as means of social empowerment for minority and underprivileged artists.

Our community of spectators, artists and students is a reflection of New York City's diverse population; Allen Ginsberg called the Cafe "the most integrated place on the planet." The Cafe recently received a $6.3 million capital grant from the City of New York to renovate our East 3rd Street building; this renovation will more then double the Cafe's capacity over the next few years.


Cast: Lynae De Priest, Melissa Harlow, Dawn Murphy, Rome Neal, Molly Elizabeth Parker, Stephen Powell, Connie Stewart, Temesgen Tocruray, and Robert Turner

Costume Designer: June Terry

Light Designer: James "Prez" Carter

Makeup Design: Percy Scott


Thursday, December 12 at 7:00PM;

Friday, December 13 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, December 14 at 7:00PM;

Thursday, December 19 at 7:00PM;

Friday, December 20 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, December 21 at 7:00PM;

Sunday, December 22 at 3:00PM;

Thursday, December 26 at 7:00PM;

Friday, December 27 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, December 28 at 7:00PM;

Sunday, December 29 at 3:00PM;

Thursday, January 2 at 7:00PM;

Friday, January 3 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, January 4 at 7:00PM;

Sunday, January 5 at 3:00PM;

Thursday, January 9 at 7:00PM;

Friday, January 10 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, January 11 at 7:00PM;

Sunday, January 12 at 3:00PM;

Thursday, January 16 at 7:00PM;

Friday, January 17 at 7:00PM;

Saturday, January 18 at 7:00PM;

Sunday, January 19 at 3:00PM


$20 in advance/online; $25 at the door; $18 for students and seniors at the door



The Nuyorican Poets Cafe (located at 236 East 3rd Street, between Avenues B and C in Manhattan) is a short walk from the 2nd Avenue Station of the F train and the Essex/Delancey Station of the J/M/Z trains.

For more detailed directions or other information about the Nuyorican Poets Cafe, visit www.nuyorican.orgor call 212-780-9386 

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