Avant Bard Theatre set for world premiere of Billy and George

Jan 3, 2023
Billy and George by Avant Bard Theatre

Arlington's Avant Bard Theatre launches its 2023 season with a world premiere, Billy and George, written by Ken Jones and Daryl L. Harris, critically acclaimed American playwrights. Directed by Avant Bard Producing Partner DeMone Seraphin, Billy and George plays January 19 through February 11, 2023, at Gunston Theatre Two, 2700 S. Lang Street, Arlington, VA.

Billy and George takes place on December 25, 1776, just hours before General George Washington and the Continental Army cross the Delaware River to defeat the Hessian soldiers at Trenton, New Jersey. Washington and his closest companion, the enslaved person William "Billy" Lee, prepare for the crossing while discussing, arguing, and challenging the concepts of freedom, war, and love.

"I couldn't have dreamed of a better group to produce the premiere of Billy and George than that of DeMone Seraphin, director, and the Avant Bard Theatre team," Jones shared. "In writing the play, Daryl and I wanted to give Billy Lee a voice, a sound, a body, and to make sure that the soul of the man, joined with George's, is still fighting for freedom, for love, and for life."

Theatergoers will be given a nuanced portrait of the nation's first president and his unexpected confidante who influenced Washington's perspective on peace, freedom, and independence.

Pointing to the contemporary relevance of Billy and George, Seraphin said: "Sankofa is an African word and symbol from the Akan tribe in Ghana. Its literal translation is 'It is not taboo to fetch what is at risk of being left behind,' and is derived from the words san (return), ko (go), and fa (look, seek, and take). The symbol Sankofa embodies the Akan people's quest for knowledge based on critical examination and intelligent and patient investigation.

"Ken and Daryl's remarkable play provides us with a thought-provoking look at a key moment in our country's history via the relationship between our first president, George Washington, and his slave, William 'Billy' Lee. My sincere hope is that this journey back will propel us forward into our greater selves, so that yesterday's missteps don't remain tomorrow's pitfalls."