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'Free Man of Color' acclaimed in Chicago

ATHENS, Ohio (Jan. 10, 2005) -- Theater Professor Charles Smith's 2004 play "Free Man of Color" continues to receive recognition.

Charles Smith and awardeesMost recently, in the Dec. 19, 2004, edition of The Chicago Tribune, arts reporter Chris Jones chose "Free Man of Color" as one of the top 10 productions to come out of Chicago in 2004, calling it "a fearless piece of writing, zestfully performed."

The play is also featured in the Jan. 6, 2005, edition of Gay Chicago Magazine as one of the best plays of 2004.

"It's a great feeling to see the play being honored in Chicago," Smith said. "To see a work about the history of Ohio University being honored makes it even better. It's real exciting to pick up major publications in Chicago and read about a play based on Ohio University."

"Free Man of Color" was given the John W. Schmid After Dark award for Outstanding New Work and the Joseph Jefferson Outstanding New Work award, as well as the Black Theatre Alliance Best New Play award.

In addition, Shelley Delaney, Ohio University assistant professor of theater, was nominated for the Joseph Jefferson Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Play award for her role as Jane in "Free Man of Color."

"Free Man of Color" was commissioned by Ohio University in commemoration of its bicentennial celebration and received its world premiere production at Victory Gardens Theater in Chicago. The play is based on the life of Ohio University's first African-American graduate, John Newton Templeton. A freed slave, Templeton lived with the president of Ohio University, Robert Wilson and his wife, Jane, during his time on campus and eventually went on to become a prominent educator of black children in Pittsburgh.

The play was performed on the Ohio University campus four times in March as part of Ohio University's yearlong bicentennial celebration.

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Media Contact: Media Specialist Jack Jeffery, (740) 593-2200 - office - or (740) 290-4479 - pager

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