TIMES SQUARE CHRONICLE: The Emperor Kathryn Solitarily Surrounded by her Loyal Servants

Theatre for a New Audience, much to my pleasure, dives into their new season with a fascinating, although slightly distancing investigation on what it means to be Emperor of a small African nation in the early 1900’s. In the U.S. premiere of The Emperor, directed with structure and simplicity by Walter Meierjohann (the site-specific Romeo and Juliet in The Victoria Baths), the life and eventually downfall of Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie I, born Ras Tafari Makonnen, is chronicled through the compelling and humorous stories of those who operated under his rule. Based on Ryszard Kapuściński’s celebrated and controversial 1978 book of the same title with a solid adaptation by Colin Teevan (Netflix’s “Rebellion“), The Emperor explores political and supreme power by giving voice and clarity to Selassie’s many servants (including his pillow-bearer, purse-bearer, and dog-urine wiper), to government bureaucrats, and finally, to the students and citizens that eventually opposed Selassie’s supreme sovereign power, and forced the ending of his imperial reign in 1974.