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David Heron Lands Lead in Shakespearean Tradgedy Coriolanus in New York

David Heron plays the lead in the title role of Coriolanus: The African Warrior

Jamaican actor David Heron has earned himself the enviable task of tackling the role of one Shakespeare’s lesser known, but no less valued heroes, Coriolanus. The actor, landed the lead role for the closing play, Coriolanus: The African Warrior, in the augural staging of the Harlem Shakespeare Festival.

Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s little known and rarely played tragic heroes. However, the play, set in ancient Rome is one of the Bard’s grittiest political dramas outlining a struggle for power. However under the direction of Jeffrey V. Thompson the play has been cololnized by an African aesthetic and hence thus been dubbed Coriolanus: The African Warrior.

Heron, who has also earned much kudos on the Jamaican stage as a playwright (Ecstasy, Redemption) reportedly auditioned for a much smaller role but a few days later offered the lead.

"It came as a total surprise,” said in an article in The Gleaner.  “because I had gone in and read for another role,” he said.

“I was honestly petrified to accept it at first - it's so much larger than anything I've ever done,” the actor admitted explaining that the roster of actors such as Morgan Freemanl Lawrence Oliver and Ralph Fiennes who have previously tackled the role was a little daunting. “The play is not produced very often and so whenever it does come around - when you look at the actors who have done it before - it's a very special event. All you can do is dive in and give it everything, which is what I'm doing,” Heron said.

Corliolanus: The African Warrior co-stars Petronia Paley. The play opened on October 31, 2013 and plays through to November 10, 2013 at the Poet’s Den Theatre, East Harlem.

The Harlem Shakespeare Festival opened in late August with a staging of Anthony and Cleopatra, (in which Heron played Octavius Ceasar). The triumvirate of Shakespearean plays which comprise the festival also included Othello.

The festival is staged by Take Wing And Soar Productions, Voza Rivers/New Heritage Theatre Group and East Harlem. The festival is staged in multiple venues across Harlem spanning late summer through to early fall.  The Harlem Shakespeare Festival also includes master classes; panel discussions, workshops, an international symposium, artist talk-backs, Shakespeare4Kids, ShakespeareInMusic, as well as ShakespeareOnFilm.