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University of Iowa News Release


Oct. 9, 2009

Multifaceted actor and musician Avery Brooks will present free UI event Oct. 19

Actor, director and musician Avery Brooks, Ida Beam Distinguished Visiting Professor in the University of Iowa departments of theatre arts, African American studies and communication studies, will present "The Time of Your Life" at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 19, in E.C. Mabie Theatre of the UI Theatre Building.

In this free event Brooks will perform some of his original jazz compositions and share his reflections of his multifaceted artistic career on stage and in television and movies, in conversation with theatre arts and African American studies faculty member Sydne Mahone. He will address the challenges that face young artists such as the quest for self, reckoning with disparate talents, and the influences and modes of practice that activate the artist's exercise of freedom.

Brooks is best known for his roles as Captain Benjamin Sisko on the TV series "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine," Hawk on "Spenser: For Hire" and "A Man Called Hawk," and in the films "Solomon Northup's Odyssey," "Fifteen Minutes" and "American History X," as well as the title role on stage in "Paul Robeson" on Broadway, at the Kennedy Center and in a national tour of more than 300 performances. He was nominated for an ACE award for his portrayal of Uncle Tom in Showtime's television production of "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

In addition to the roles of King Lear and Othello, he recently played Tamburlaine at the Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C., and Willy Loman in "Death of A Salesman" at Oberlin College. He has also performed in many productions off-Broadway, in regional theaters and with the Negro Ensemble Company.

He sang the role of Malcolm in the American Music Theater Festival production of Anthony Davis' opera "X: The Life and Times of Malcolm X" and the role of Cinque in the Davis' "Tania." At the Warsaw Theater Festival in Poland he performed in the award-winning opera, "The Temptations of St. Anthony," adapted by Bernice Reagon and directed by Robert Wilson.

He performed vocals in the Pushkin project with saxophonist David Murray in Paris at the Banlieues Bleues Festival in February 2005 and in Catania, Sicily, in 2006, and he provided vocals for the Blues Rock Coalition's Tribute to Ray Charles at Symphony Space in New York in April 2005.

Brooks has hosted several documentaries including the recent PBS/BBC production "Bible Mysteries." Others include "Mandela: A Man of Vision," "Marian Anderson, A Passion for Faith," "Trackdown: Growing Up" and the award-winning "The Musical Legacy of Roland Hayes."

He has also contributed to documentaries for NASA, the Discovery Channel, National Geographic and NOVA and can be heard on the IMAX films "Africa's Elephant Kingdom," "Greatest Places" and "Oceans in Space." He narrated the "Roots" audio book, winner of the 2007 Audie Award for Best Non-Fiction Audiobook, celebrating the 30th anniversary of the Alex Haley classic.

Brooks served as artistic director of the National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta 1993 through 1996 and in 1994 he was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Theater. He is a professor at Rutgers University, where he was the first black Master of Fine Arts graduate.

The Ida Cordelia Beam Distinguished Visiting Professorships Program was established in 1978-79 based on a bequest from the late Ida Beam of Vinton, Iowa, who willed her family farm to the UI Foundation. The proceeds from the farm's sale enabled the UI to establish a fund that brings top scholars in a variety of fields to the university for lectures and discussions.

The Department of Theatre Arts is a unit of the Division of Performing Arts in the UI College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This event is co-sponsored by African American Studies and Communication Studies.

UI arts events are searchable on the UI Master Calendar: For additional arts information, visit To receive UI arts news by e-mail, go to and click the link "Join or Leave ACR News," then follow the instructions.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Suite 351, Iowa City, IA 52242-2500

MEDIA CONTACTS: Sydne Mahone,; Winston Barclay, 319-384-0073 (office) 319-430-1013 (cell),