Tuesday, September 11, 2012



By Suzan-Lori Parks
Directed by Suzan-Lori Parks

WHEN: Saturday, September 8 - Sunday, September 30;*
Thursday–Saturday 8 PM; Wednesday 1 PM & 7 PM; Saturday & Sunday 3 PM
Two River Theater Company, 21 Bridge Ave., Red Bank
TICKETS: There are a limited number of $20 tickets for every performance, with no restrictions on when or by whom the tickets can be purchased. Other tickets range from $37 to $65, with discounts available for groups, seniors, students, and patrons aged 30 and under. Tickets are available from 732.345.1400 or

Topdog/Underdog is one of the most powerful dramas in the American theater. Acclaimed for its taut theatricality and surprising humor, the play tells the story of two brothers, Lincoln and Booth—names given to them as a joke by their father. This production will star real-life brothers Brandon J. Dirden (August Wilson’s Jitney at Two River, Broadway’s Clybourne Park and Enron) as Lincoln, and Jason Dirden (the 2010 Broadway revival of August Wilson’s Fences) as Booth.

Each day, Lincoln puts on a top hat and a fake beard and goes to work in a seedy arcade, where tourists come for the chance to shoot Honest Abe. Booth is obsessed with a street con game, three-card monte. Striving for a better life, bound by their love for each other, they are haunted by their own pasts—and our country’s history. Topdog/Underdog contains adult language and content and is recommended for mature audiences. 

Says Artistic Director John Dias, “Suzan-Lori Parks is one of the greatest theater artists this country has produced. And her Topdog/Underdog is a masterpiece. The play both invites and challenges audiences to think about how we look at American history through the charged relationship of two brothers, played here by Brandon and Jason Dirden—two wonderful actors who are real-life brothers. I’ve known Suzan-Lori for many years, and I love her imagination and profound insight and skill, which is why I invited her to direct this play in celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize.”

Discussions and Events

  • Before Play: The life and work of Suzan-Lori Parks will be discussed in Two River’s Before Play series, a free lecture that takes place in the lobby 45 minutes prior to the start of every performance. The Before Play series is sponsored by Zager Fuchs, PC.  
  • Lobby Display: Audience will learn about throwing the cards and other sleight-of-hand tricks in a special interactive lobby display.
  • Post-Play Conversations: Discussions with the cast and a member of Two River’s Artistic staff will take place on the following dates:  Wednesdays, September 19 at 7 PM and September 26 at 1 PM, and Sunday, September 23 at 3 PM.


Suzan-Lori Parks won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Topdog/Underdog, becoming the first African-American woman to do so. Her work is the subject of the PBS film The Topdog Diaries. Her plays include The Book of Grace, Fucking A, In the Blood (Pulitzer Prize finalist), Venus (Obie Award), and The America Play. She adapted the book of The Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess, winner of the 2012 Tony Award for Best Musical Revival. In 2007, her project 365 Days/365 Plays was produced in more than 700 theaters worldwide, creating one of the largest grassroots collaborations in theater history. A student of James Baldwin, with whom she credits the launch of her interest in playwriting, Parks is a MacArthur “Genius” Award recipient. She teaches at NYU, and is currently performing her experimental solo show, Watch Me Work, at The Public Theater, where she serves as Master Writer Chair. 

The creative team for Topdog/Underdog includes Tony Award-winning scenic and lighting designer Christopher Akerlind; Tony-nominated costume designer ESosa, the runner-up on the 2010 season of Project Runway; sound designer Brendan Connelly; and fight director Thomas Schall. The casting is by Heidi Griffiths and the stage manager is Amanda Michaels