Press Release:  Free Man of Color




The West Coast Premiere


Written by Charles Smith
Directed by Dan Bonnell

Limited Engagement opens Saturday, August 14 at The Colony Theatre in Burbank!

"A bold and striking new work!" – Chicago Tribune

July 13, 2010...Burbank...The Colony Theatre Company is thrilled to present its second production of its 36th season, the West Coast premiere of FREE MAN OF COLOR, written by Charles Smith and directed by Dan Bonnell (Better Angels). FREE MAN OF COLOR will preview on Wednesday, August 11; Thursday, August 12 and Friday, August 13 at 8:00pm and will open on Saturday, August 14 at 8:00pm and continue through Sunday, September 12 at The Colony Theatre, 555 North Third Street (at Cypress) adjacent to the Burbank Town Center.

A stirring drama about one of the first freed slaves to graduate from an American university — and he did it almost 40 years before the Emancipation Proclamation. Based on a true story, Free Man of Color explores the life of John Newton Templeton, a fascinating but forgotten figure in our history. A young African-American scholar, he learns in the course of the play that with freedom comes great responsibility and that his future is not as obvious as the color of his skin. Winner of the Joseph Jefferson Award for Outstanding New Work in Chicago, Free Man of Color speaks to the humanity in us all and reminds us that true freedom is derived not from the law but from determining our own destiny.


DAN BONNELL (Director) is an award-winning director whose work has been seen in Los Angeles at The Colony Theatre (Better Angels), Pacific Resident Theatre (Happy End, winner of Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Revival in 2005, and Anatol, Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Directing in 2007), The Matrix, Open Fist, Theatre of NOTE (Spider Bites), The Met, Boston Court (365 Plays), Cornerstone, [Inside] @ The Ford, ASK Theater Projects, Ensemble Studio Theatre - LA (Headless, Love Water, Stage Directions, And Still the Dogs), Highways, Moving Arts, Nexus Theatre Company, Odyssey Theatre Ensemble, and HBO Workspace (Sarah Silverman's pilot project, Sarah Says Cheese, and the live theatrical version of Mr. Show with Bob and David). He served as the Artistic Director at Arcade, a workspace for theatre and media, from 1995 to 2001 and was the Co-Artistic Director of Ensemble Studio Theatre - LA from 2006 to 2008. In addition to the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards, Dan has been honored with the LA Weekly Directing Award, the NAACP Directing Award, and the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Theater in Los Angeles. He has been nominated for the Ovation Award and for Theater Communications Group's "Alan Schneider Award." Prior to LA, Dan was a Resident Company Director at Circle Repertory Company in New York City and staged plays for notable institutions across the country -- including Long Wharf, the Asolo, Atlanta's Alliance Theater, and Pioneer Theater Company -- and internationally at The Bronfman Center in Montreal and Theatre Les Dechargeurs in Paris. He has taught at Ensemble Studio Theatre Institute in NYC, USC, UCLA, Denison University, Cypress College, and is currently a Lecturer in Performance at UC Riverside.

FRANK ASHMORE (Wilson) is honored to be making his Colony Theatre debut in Free Man of Color. He has been working professionally for over 35 years in film, television, and theatre with notable roles in Paramount's groundbreaking comedy classic Airplane! as Victor the Navigator, and NBC's 1983 hit sci-fi series V in the role of Martin. His most recent theatre credits include National Pastime as the legendary Branch Rickey, winning the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Featured Actor; Far East at the Laguna Playhouse; Equus at the Pasadena Playhouse; Theatre League's southwest tour of West Side Story; Lend Me a Tenor, Corpse, and Noises Off for International City Theatre in Long Beach; and many others. His most recent film credits include Stealing Home, for which he received a film festival Best Actor nomination, Work and the Glory II & III, and Oranges. On television, Frank has had contract roles on both Days of our Lives and General Hospital, and he has appeared in over 60 roles as a co-star or guest star in episodic television, most recently on Criminal Minds. Frank can currently be seen as Ollie in the highly successful web-series The Guild, and his voice work for the character Leo Galante can be heard on the newly released video game Mafia II.

KATHLEEN MARY CARTHY (Jane) is a member of Theatre of Note where she performed in last summer's film noir hit Kill Me Deadly. She also received a 2008 Ovation Award Nomination for Best Featured Actress in Note's production of The Wreck of the Unfathomable. Regionally, Kathleen has appeared at La Jolla Playhouse, Rubicon Theatre, The Lounge Theatre, Sacred Fools Theatre, Sierra Repertory Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, as well as national tours and many black boxes in New York City. Her TV credits include recurring roles on Monk, CSI: Miami, Wicked Wicked Games, and Days of our Lives. Other TV credits include Grey's Anatomy, Hawthorne, Three Rivers, Eleventh Hour, It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia, Dexter, Tell Me You Love Me, Bones, Criminal Minds, Carnivale, E-Ring, The O.C., Numb3rs, Eyes, ER, Strong Medicine, General Hospital, and Passions. Kathleen is originally from Long Island, NY, and has been living in L.A. since graduating from UCSD's MFA Acting Program in 2003.

KAREEM FERGUSON (John) is excited to be appearing in his first production with The Colony Theatre and honored to be able to share this amazing story. He has worked at many regional theatres including The Guthrie, Alliance, Milwaukee Repertory, and Pioneer Theatre, and he is a company member of Ensemble Studio Theatre-LA and Pacific Stages Theatre. Recent theatre credits include Lobby Hero by Kenneth Lonergan and The Ghost by Tom Cook. After initial acting training at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, Kareem received his Master of Fine Arts in theater from The University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee's Professional Theatre Training Program. One highlight of Kareem's theatre career so far was rapping Shakespeare as the character Grumio in a production of Taming of the Shrew that traveled to Shanghai. In addition to his stage work, Kareem continues to perform in film and television, and behind the scenes, Kareem has served as playwright, screenwriter, director, and producer for plays and independent films.

FREE MAN OF COLOR has assembled an award-winning design team. The Scenic Design is by David Potts (Visiting Mr. Green). The Lighting Design is by Chris Wojcieszyn (Better Angels). The Costume Design is by A. Jeffrey Schoenberg (Better Angels). The Sound Design is by Cricket S. Myers (Jacques Brel Is Alive and Well and Living in Paris). Prop Design is by Colony Theatre resident designers MacAndMe.


FREE MAN OF COLOR will open on Saturday, August 14 and perform through Sunday, September 12, 2010. Performances for FREE MAN OF COLOR are Thursdays, & Fridays at 8:00pm; Saturdays at 3:00pm & 8:00pm; and Sundays at 2:00pm. Ticket prices range from $20.00 - $42.00 (student, senior and group discounts are available). FREE MAN OF COLOR will preview on Wednesday, August 11; Thursday, August 12 and Friday, August 13 at 8:00pm. Opening night performance with reception - all tickets $50.00. There are question-and-answer talkbacks after the performances on Friday, August 20, and Thursday, September 2 For tickets, call the Colony Theatre Box Office at 818/558-7000 ext. 15 or online at

For more information, press interviews, photos or for press comps, please contact David Elzer/DEMAND PR at 818/508-1754 or at or visit

The award-winning Colony Theatre Company is Burbank's premiere professional theatre. It was voted "Best Live Theatre in L.A." in The Daily News 2006 Readers' Choice poll, and has been named one of "25 Notable U.S. Theatre Companies" by Encyclopedia Britannica Almanac for 6 years in a row. 

The Colony Theatre Company is a 36-year old organization dedicated to bringing the finest-quality theatrical productions to Los Angeles. The theatre is located at 555 North Third Street, at the corner of Cypress, in the heart of Downtown Burbank. For further information, call (818) 558-7000. Fax: (818) 558-7110. E-mail: Or visit our website at