SUNDIATA: LEGENDARY “LION” KING OF MALI

by Jay Breckinridge and Coni Koepfinger

In 13th century Mali, Sundiata, a physically handicapped young survivor of violent political intrigue, has been prophesized to become Mali’s greatest king.  It is a tale of good overcoming evil.  The story of his recovery, his exile, and his evolution as a great leader is presented through dueling griots, traditional African storytellers and preservers of African history and traditions.  As the principal griot observes, “There are usually at least two sides to any story.”  He traces the legend of Sundiata, enacted by the characters in the play, with interruptions from a second griot presenting a contrary version.  They duel over episodes from Sundiata’s sickly childhood to his climactic victory over his evil rival, Sumanguru, at the battle of Kirina.

  • Cast Size: 14M 4W Many ensemble roles, doubling suggested
  • Running Time: 90+ minutes
  • Royalty Rate: $75 per performance

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About the Playwrights

Dr. Jay Breckenridge has retired as Professor Emeritus of Theatre Arts from Penn State Greater Allegheny, where he developed play scripts for his students to perform each semester–drawn from the folklore of cultures around the world.  In his other life, he performed for several decades as a juggler, storyteller, and stilt walker, both solo and with The World Emergency Circus, a “new vaudeville” trio.  He is a founding member of The Heritage Players, a community theatre group, where he has performed as an actor, director, and set builder.  He lives in happy retirement with wife, Kathie, and dog, Baxter, and continues juggling his time with community theatre projects, an organic garden, the baritone ukulele, and six wonderful grandkids.

Winner of the 2021 Olwen Wymark Theatre Award by the Writer’s Guild of Great Britain, Coni Koepfinger is the host of AIRPLAY, a weekly virtual theatre program now in its 12th season that brings the voices of artists, actors, playwrights from all over the world together. Also via new media, Koepfinger has created DETERMINED WOMEN, a monthly feature that interviews women who share stories to encourage and inspire. In addition to teaching theatre and composition at prominent universities like Carnegie Mellon, Penn State and Point Park University, Koepfinger is an internationally published and produced playwright, poet, and librettist. Coni is a Media Advisor for the Lifeboat Foundation who recently published her play, Get the Message in their Visions of the Future anthology 2016; a contributing writer for the Center of Conscious Creativity in LA; a Member of The Dramatists Guild, and  ; a former board member of the International Center for Women Playwrights; and the League of Professional Theatre Women. Recent work includes three new powerful pieces with her writing partner Joe Izen: including Eve of Beltane -a fresh look at political corruption in the face of ancient Celtic mythology that was given a 29 hr AEA staged reading at Broadway Bound Festival (2019),; Schoolhouse -an ultramodern musical that takes the young victim of a school shooting through a magical journey into an imaginary schoolhouse to find compassion and joy;  and the new age musical,  Kingdom Come, where technology meets its match in matchmaking with TED, the world’s first transhuman who falls in love with boss only to reveal a bigger, brighter picture for all humanity. She has written well over 40 plays, short stories, books and commissions such as Takin’ It Back a ten-minute play for THE ME TOO PROJECT in Harlem, and Playing House a commissioned one-act about Bella Abzug for the UNTOLD STORIES OF JEWISH WOMEN and Playing Fate which was accepted for New Blood Series at Theatre for the New City. In 2020 Koepfinger’s work virtually all over, with a new full-length, My Dinner with Mary, which was read online for The Producer’s Circle in March, and was recently streamed live from The Player’s Club in NYC. It will be produced at Theatre for the New City in their 2023 season. Simon Says, won placement in PLAYBILL’S Virtual Theatre Festival 2020 and is slated for Manhattan Rep’s STORIES film competition in 2021. In the NYC pipeline, JOSIE IN THE BARDO will open at The Chain Theatre in April 2022.

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