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Topdog/Underdog breaks ground at Princeton summer theater

Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Topdog/Underdog” may be ending Princeton Summer Theater’s 2019 season, but it also represents many firsts for the company, which celebrates its 50th anniversary next year.

Not only is it the first time that the company will present a play written by an African-American woman (Parks won the Pulitzer Prize for “Topdog/Underdog” in 2002), it is also the first PST production to feature an entirely African-American cast, comprised of Travis Raeburn and Nathaniel J. Ryan. At the helm is New York theater artist Lori Elizabeth Parquet in her professional directing debut, another first.

Summer-stock theater companies are not generally known for producing plays like “Topdog,” despite its status as a modern masterpiece. But in its five decades of history, PST has always flouted the rules of traditional summer theater, providing a laboratory for early-career artists to hone their craft.

Though the text of Parks’ slyly comic fable of two contentious brothers named Lincoln and Booth is not Princeton-specific, the production aims to bring its exploration of race and prejudice in contemporary America home to Mercer County.

“Topdog/Underdog” will be performed at the Hamilton Murray Theater Aug. 8 to 18; call 732-997-0205 or visit for tickets and information.