American Repertory Theatre Launches Musical

Witness Uganda, created by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews

By: - Apr 12, 2013

The American Repertory Theater (A.R.T.) at Harvard University  will present the world premiere of the musical Witness Uganda, created by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, and directed by A.R.T. Artistic Director Diane Paulus.  The production will begin performances at the Loeb Drama Center, 64 Brattle Street, Cambridge in February of 2014.

 Griffin, a black American volunteer, escapes New York City from his church's probing into his sexuality and travels to Uganda on a whim to help build a village school. But when he falls into a complicated relationship with a group of destitute, orphaned teenagers, he becomes obsessed with a mission that will change his and their lives forever.  This journey, inspired by a true story, with original music by Matt Gould and Griffin Matthews, takes you from the beautiful rolling hills of the Ugandan countryside to a stifling apartment in New York City, from a joyous celebration of African youth to a terrifying abduction 8000 miles away. Witness Uganda documents the story of a young man battling to find his place in a world full of injustice and inhumanity and explores the question "is changing the world even possible?"

 Witness Uganda is the recipient of the 2012 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theater, ASCAP’s Dean Kay Award, ASCAP’s Harold Adamson Award, and a grant from Conde Nast c/o Summit Series. It was workshopped at Disney/ASCAP (hosted by composer Stephen Schwartz) and at the Vineyard Arts Project/Art Farm.  It has been performed in concert around the world and at events including Summit Series in Lake Tahoe, The Lido Investment Symposium in Beverly Hills, The Rattlestick Theatre New Play Festival in New York City, and Patrick’s Orphanage in Ndejje, Uganda.

Matt Gould is the co-creator of Witness Uganda (with Griffin Matthews). He is currently working on a commission for Yale Rep with playwright Carson Kreitzer on the new musical Lempicka.  He wrote and directed Free Style for LA’s REPRISE Theatre Company, wrote Twilight in Manchego (Jonathan Larson Foundation Award) for the NYMF, was commissioned by Playwrights Horizons to write music for Lucy Thurber’s Dillingham City, composed music for Dreyfus In Rehearsal (Theatre Row) and translated, adapted and directed Romeo and Juliet in Pulaar (Mauritania, West Africa.) He was a composing fellow in New Dramatist’s Composer/Librettist studio and has composed and arranged music for Grammy Winner Desmond Child, Terrence McNally, Vanessa Williams, and more.  His music has been performed at Jazz at Lincoln Center, The Saban Theatre (LA), Symphony Space (NYC), Joe’s Pub, New World Stages, Huntington Theatre Company, Rattlestick (NYC), Summit Series, and TEDx Wall Street.

Griffin Matthews graduated with a BFA in musical theater from Carnegie Mellon University, in his hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. He is awriter, director, actor, and philanthropist who splits his time between NewYork and Los Angeles. He co-wrote (book, music, and lyrics) and directed numerous staged readings of Witness Uganda including Vineyard Arts Project/Art Farm (New Writers. New Plays), Rattlestick Theater (F*!@cking Good Plays Festival), and The ASCAP Foundation/Disney Musical Theatre Workshop. He directed a reading of Lempicka for Yale Rep and New Dramatists. He and Matt Gould performed selections from Witness Uganda at this year's TEDx conference in New York City. As an actor, he has appeared on The Mentalist, Suburgatory, Weeds, Torchwood, 90210, Law & Order LA, Cashmere Mafia, numerous commercials, hosted several web series, and has appeared Off-Broadway and regionally.

Director Diane Paulus is the Artistic Director of the American Repertory Theater at Harvard University in Cambridge, MA.  Directing credits at the A.R.T. are Pippin,The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess (winner of Tony Award for Best Revival of a Musical, nominated for 10 Tony Awards including Best Director), Prometheus Bound, Death and The Powers: The Robots ‘Opera, The Donkey Show, Johnny Baseball, and Best of Both Worlds.  Her other recent work includes Amaluna, Cirque du Soleil’s newest creation which had its world premiere in Montreal in April 2012; The Public Theater's Tony-Award winning revival of HAIR on Broadway (2009 Tony Award winner for Best Revival of a Musical, nominated for 8 Tony Awards including Best Director, Drama Desk Award, Outer Critics Circle Award and Drama League Award for Best Revival of a Musical), and London’s West End; Kiss Me, Kate (Glimmerglass Opera) and Lost Highway (ENO co-production with the Young Vic.) Her opera credits include The Magic Flute (Canadian OperaCompany), Il mondo della luna (Hayden Planetarium in New York); Don Giovanni, Le nozze di Figaro, Turn Of The Screw, Cosi fan tutte, and the Monteverdi trilogy Il ritorno d’Ulisse inpatria, L’incoronazione di Poppea, and Orfeo (Chicago Opera Theater). She is a Professor of the Practice of Theater in Harvard University’s English Department, and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from Boston Conservatory. Paulus received The Drama League’s 2012 Founders Award for Excellence in Directing.

Tickets to Witness Uganda will be available with subscription purchases in May. Single tickets will be available in December 2013.