Every day is opening night.

City Parks Foudation Debuts First Summerstage Theater Season with “Etymology of Bird”

Rick Miramontez / Elizabeth Wagner
rick@oandmco.com / elizabeth@oandmco.com
(212) 695-7400



SummerStage presented by MasterCard
Theater presented by Time Warner

8:00 – 10:00 PM

New York, NYSummerStage has announced their first theater season debut with The Etymology of Bird, written by Zakiyyah Alexander and Directed by Jade King Carroll. This show is a part of SummerStage’s summer-long FREE theater program and will take place on Friday, June 11th and Saturday June 12th at Von King Park in Brooklyn and Friday, June 18th and Saturday, June 19th at Betsy Head Park, Brooklyn at 8:00 p.m.

The Etymology of Bird delves into the fabric of Bedford-Stuyvesant, a Brooklyn, NY neighborhood, and provokes a series of important questions on race relations, criminal justice, family life, love, fear, stereotypes, and hard choices. It weaves together the narratives of an aspiring rapper, an aspiring college student, a single mother grappling with an economy that increasingly demands technological expertise, a white cop in a community of color, and more.

“It’s so wonderful to be able to present play’s that are socially relevant and entertaining,” said City Park Foundation’s Director of Theater Programs, Freedome Bradley. “Play’s that reflect the hopes, dreams and concerns of the community in which they are set. This story was actually inspired by events that occurred just a few blocks away from where the play is being rehearsed and will premiere. That’s what theater’s all about, giving a voice to those that are unheard and Zakiyyah has done a wonderful job in reworking this play especially for our audience.”

The full cast of The Etymology of Bird includes Jenné Claiborne (Bird), Dennis Johnson (Jermaine), Lisa Strum (Rashida), Natafa (B-Boy), Reynaldo Piniella (Kash), J. Mal McCree (Doey), Jay Rohloff (Anthony/Mr. Steel), Dominique Morisseau (Carmen) and Ralph McCain (Lewis).

The creative team for The Etymology of Bird includes Antoinette Tynes (Lighting Design), Harlan Penn (Scenic Design), Anne Skeete (Costume Design) and Luqman Brown (Sound Design).

This year in honor of the 25th anniversary, SummerStage is excited to have expanded from Central Park to encompass all five boroughs, and will feature productions in Von King Park, Brooklyn, Betsy Head Park, Brooklyn, St. Mary’s Park, Bronx, Crotona Park, Bronx, Springfield Park, Queens, Marcus Garvey Park, Manhattan and East River Park, Manhattan.

For the most up-to-date SummerStage scheduling and line-up for SummerStage programming, visit http://www.SummerStage.org.


Zakiyyah Alexander (Playwright) is an award winning writer and actor. In addition to The Etymology of Bird, she is the author of: 10 Things to Do Before I Die, Sick?, Blurring Shine, Sweet Maladies, something new, and (900). Zakiyyah is a native New Yorker and was raised in Queens and Brooklyn.

Jade King Carroll (Director) has directed workshops, readings & productions for Second Stage Theatre, McCarter Theatre, New Dramatists, People's Light & Theatre, Playpenn, Barrow Group Theatre, Passage Theatre, Chocolate Factory Theatre, Players Theatre, McCarter Theatre, Playwright’s Realm, BE Company, Clockwork Theatre, 24 Hour Plays & New Jersey Rep. She is currently the Artistic Associate at Second Stage Theatre and a TCG New Generation's Future Leader.

Jenné Claiborne (Bird) relocated to New York City in May 2010 after graduating from Boston University's Theatre Conservatory Program. Before The Etymology of Bird she worked with Tony Award winning George Faison in The Respect Project and played Disney's Princess Tiana of The Princess and the Frog at The Roseland Ballroom.

Dennis Johnson (Jermaine) had his debut stage performance in the production of Crown Height at The Castillo Theater. Six years into his craft, he has over sixty credits in theater, film, television, and print. Recently his film The Cycle was one of five short films selected for the 2010 American Black Film Festival Short Film Competition.

Lisa Strum’s (Rashida) credits include: Lincoln Center Theatre, New Federal Theatre, ACT, The Intiman, and Law & Order: SVU. Lisa holds an MFA from the University of Washington. “Love and thanks to the creative team, cast and crew of The E of B.”

Natafa (B-Boy) is a classically trained dancer in the disciplines of ballet, jazz, and contemporary. He began his training at The Dance Theatre of Harlem where he recieved the Conservatory Scholarship three years in a row. He has also studied with The Alvin Ailey School, Paul Taylor, and Fenus Jung.

Reynaldo Piniella (Kash) was previously seen in The Great Recession (The Flea), Hamletmachine (Castillo) and The Toilet (NFT) and can currently be seen in commercials for Nintendo and Mini Chill. He is a member of The Flea Theater and The Horse Trade Theater Group.

J. Mal McCree (Doey) has accomplished much in the two years since his graduation from Rutgers University’s theatre program, with appearances on Law & Order, several commercials, and awaiting the release of his film debut in Recreator. Most recently, he worked alongside Oscar winner Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk about Kevin. Also performing Off-Broadway in Zooman and the Sign and an avid member of The Historical Negro Ensemble Company, J. continues to fine tune his craft both on and off screen.

Jay Rohloff (Anthony/Mr. Steel), the Artistic Director and a founding member of The Clockwork Theatre, is proud to work with City Parks Foundation. Acting credits include: Duke (Underground), Fish (Cherry Smoke), Elliot (Apartment 3A), Bernard 1, 2 and Michael Black (A Number), Stetko (The Monument), and Lee (True West).

Dominique Morisseau’s (Carmen) credits include: Shoe Story (NYSAF, Dir: Thomas Kail), Camae in The Mountaintop (Lark), Breath, Boom (Dir: Liesl Tommy) and Upfront (BET). She belongs to the Public Theatre’s Emerging Writers Group and her play Follow Me to Nellie’s will be at the O’Neill this July.

Ralph McCain (Lewis) recently appeared in Box Seats at the Payan Theatre. Other credits include: Sundown Names and Night Gone Things, No Place To Be Somebody, God’s Trombones, The Piano Lesson, Twelve Angry Men, Whose Life Is It Anyway, “One Life To Live,” “Another World,” “Guiding Light,” “The Sopranos,” and the independent film Flowers.

City Parks Foundation (CPF) is the only independent, nonprofit organization to offer park programs throughout the five boroughs of New York City. CPF works in over 750 parks citywide, presenting a broad range of free arts, sports, and education programs, and empowering citizens to support their parks on a local level. CPF programs and community building initiatives reach more than 600,000 people each year, contributing to the revitalization of neighborhoods throughout New York City.

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