Development has been underway through the pandemic. Director is Reginald L. Douglas.

June 16 to July 3, 2022
Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street
Presented by The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.
Thursdays and Fridays at 7:00 PM, Saturdays and Sundays at 2:00 PM and 8:00 PM but 7:00 PM only on June 18 and July 3 (total 16 performances).
Tickets $35 gen. Adm., $25 seniors/students. Buy tix: Audience info: 212-582-5860.

NEW YORK, May 11 -- During the Covid-19 pandemic, The Negro Ensemble Company, Inc. (NEC) has been developing "Lambs to Slaughter" by Khalil Kain, a new play with poetry and music, under the direction of Reginald L. Douglas. Kalil Kain is an urban icon who is renowned for his performances in the 1992 crime thriller "Juice," the UPN/CW sitcom "Girlfriends" (2001-2008) and the title role in the Showtime biopic "The Tiger Woods Story." Reginald L. Douglas is a distinguished developer of new works and advocate for new voices. From June 16 to July 3, NEC will present the play's world premiere in an Off-Broadway production at Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street (West Village).

The play is a drama of a single mother who has lost her older son to gun violence and must navigate the mourning process with the help of an upstairs neighbor and an ex-lover. She fears failing her younger son, who wrestles with his own demons and guilt. This NEC production is Kain's first produced play. It blends compelling realistic dialogue with verse that is crafted for call-and-response. Instrumental underscore is provided by Keith Edward Johnson. The verse, seamlessly woven into the story, provides an emotional release for the characters, exploding with heightened truth and pulsating through an incendiary look at the current state of America.

Khalil Kain is a noted actor with national and international appeal. He is best known or his performance as Raheem Porter in "Juice," in which he appeared with Tupac Shakur, Omar Epps and Jermaine Hopkins as a quartet of young Harlem friends on a violent path that goes terribly wrong. He was the second (and longest running) Darnell Wilkes, husband of Maya (played by Golden Brooks) in the long-running sitcom "Girlfriends." He played the title role in Showtime's "The Tiger Woods Story." Other notable appearances include the films "For Colored Girls" and "Love Jones" and TV's "Suddenly Susan," "Friends," "Blue Bloods," "Living Single," "Moesha," "Angel" and "Sister, Sister." His New York stage appearances include the Off-Broadway revival of "The Great McDaddy." Most recently (January 2022), he co-wrote, directed and appeared in "The Millennial," an original film for BET+.

Kain writes, “With a level understanding of self, I am a writer first.” Writing runs in his family: his father, Gylan Kain, is a founding member of the Original Last Poets (along with Felipe Luciano and David Nelson) and personally created the aggressive, rhythmic delivery of spoken word aka performance poetry as it is known today.

"Lambs to Slaughter" is a love letter to the Black family and the strength of the Black mother. It also aims to reveal the full truth and humanity of the Black man, his rage and tenderness, joy and pain, the heart behind the masks people wear and the fences society forces them to have. Additionally, as the title suggests, it is a kaddish for the many young men who have lived their lives one decision away from death. Kain says, "As a father I know the vulnerability of us as a people and of our family structure. Every time you send your kid into the street, you worry how vulnerable they are."

In the process of writing "Lambs to Slaughter," Kain issued a recording by the same name which is published by True Groove Records, whose catalog says, "Weaving Hip-Hop, classic Soul, Funk, Spoken word, and a healthy dose of Old School Rap, the recording defies category. Like Khalil Kain himself, it is an American original."

In the upcoming production, Kain will portray Paul, an ex-con who has turned his life around and seeks to save Joan, the play's tragic heroine. The parts of Joan and her son, Emmett, are played by Adiagha Faizah and Terayle Hill. Athena, Joan's caring upstairs neighbor, will be played by Shaquila Gooden.

Director Reginald L. Douglas is a stage director and new play development producer with a passion for strong storytelling. He is Associate Artistic Director of Studio Theatre in Washington, DC and was previously Artistic Producer of City Theatre Company in Pittsburgh. In New York, he has directed at Harlem Stage, Wild Project, Signature Center, Drama League, The Lark (where he was the inaugural Van Lier Fellow in Directing) and New York Theatre Workshop (where he was an inaugural 2050 Directing Fellow). He has developed and directed works by many noted writers including Dominique Morisseau, Lynn Nottage, Dael Orlandersmith and more. He serves on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the National New Play Network and is an active member of Society of Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, where he serves on the Anti-Racism Best Practices Task Force and Board Nominating Committee. He received the National Theatre Conference’s 2020 Emerging Professional Award.

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