The Negro of Peter the Great, Alabama Shakespeare Festival

Carolyn Blount Theater, Mongomery, Ala.
March 6 – July 15, 2001
World Premiere

As Ibrahim, with Greta Lambert as Countess Leonora (PHOTO: ASF/Phil Scarsbrook)

As Ibrahim, challenging his adoptive father, Phillip Pleasants as Czar Peter the Great (PHOTO: ASF/Phil Scarsbrook)

As Ibrahim, consoling Phillip Pleasants as Peter the Great (PHOTO: ASF/Phil Scarsbrook)

Critical Response

“At the Center of the play Johnny Lee Davenport vitalizes Ibrahim, externalizing the complexities of this absorbing and tragic character.”
—Allan Swafford, Montgomery Advertiser (March 12, 2001)

“As Ibrahim, Mr. Davenport is one of the finest classical actors we’ve seen, and he brings real sympathy to the role.”
—Fred Lippincott, The Montgomery Independent (March 15, 2001)

In a publicity shot for the show (PHOTO: ASF/Phil Scarsbrook)


“Casting the role of Ibrahim was not an easy job, said ASF associate artistic director Kent Gash, who is directing the production.

‘This play requires extraordinary language skills. It is set in the 18th century,’ Gash said. ‘It is a classical leading man who is heroic in stature but capable of plummeting into considerable depths.’

And selecting actor Johnny Lee Davenport for the role was “a no-brainer,” Gash said.

Davenport said after reading the script, he knew he wanted the role.

‘I didn’t want anybody else’s stamp on it,’ said Davenport. . . . ‘I didn’t want anybody to mess this character up.’ As for the language skills required, Davenport said he has had considerable experience with language in the 20 Shakespearean plays he has done.

And, he said, he believes in the power of the spoken word.

‘When the sounds I make fall on ears, I want them to mean something, and this play is just amazing,’ he said.

It is about honor, about belonging, and both of these themes are universal, Davenport said.
—Robyn Bradley Litchfield, Montgomery Advertiser (March 4, 2001)