Multimedia: Inside Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Rehearsal of TWELFTH NIGHT with Kara Young, William DeMeritt, Allen Gilmore and More

Performances, Photography, Theater

The Classical Theatre of Harlem, a professional theater company that has brought audiences Black artistic excellence for over two decades, presents in association with Yale Repertory Theatre, Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night at Marcus Garvey Park in East Harlem, July 6-29. The play is free to the public. Click here to RSVP.

Check out photos and video of rehearsals at The Institute for American Musical Theatre.

Carl Cofield

Carl Cofield

Continuing CTH’s mission to place diversity at the forefront of their performances, this interpretation of Twelfth Night will engage with the global conversation around equity and inclusion. It features a majority-Black team of artists lead by director Carl Cofield, CTH’s Associate Artistic Director.

“With its Afrofuturistic aesthetic and diverse team of artists, our production of Twelfth Night will tackle the global conversation around equity, diversity, and inclusion,” said Cofield. “I look forward to showing audiences what the magical world of Illyria can teach us here and now.”

Tony nominee Kara Young in Christian Siriano. Photo by Lia Chang

Tony nominee Kara Young (Clyde’s), who will be playing Viola in the production, adds, “This is for Harlem, this is for my place of birth, this is for the community, especially for the people who are still here.”

Director Carl Cofield and William DeMeritt. Photo by Lia Chang

In addition to Young, the Twelfth Night cast features J’Laney Allen as Sebastian, William DeMeritt* as Duke Orsino, Allen Gilmore* as Malvolio, Christina Sajous* as Olivia, Cassandra Lopez* as Maria, Chivas Michael* as Sir Toby, Jaylen Eashmond as Sea Captain, First Officer, understudy Sir Toby, Carson Elrod* as Sir Andrew Aguecheek, Israel Erron Ford* as Feste, Donathan Walters as Fabian, Sailor, Ensemble, understudy Orsino, Denzel Fields* as Antonio, Othello Pratt, Jr. * as Valentine, Servant, Ensemble, understudy Feste. Dancers include Kat Files+, Denzzyl Green+, Alisa Gregory+, Brynlie Helmich+, and Maddy LaLonde+. Additional cast include Anthony Lalor* as Ensemble, understudy Valentine, Sea Captain, Fabian, Antonio, Collin McConnell as Ensemble, understudy Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Alexandria King* as Understudy Viola and Olivia. Check out photos of the cast at

* denotes member of Actors’ Equity Association + denotes member of Emerge125

Photo by Lia Chang

The Twelfth Night creative team includes: Choreography by Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Fight Direction by Rick Sordelet and Christian Kelly-Sordelet: Fight Director, Scenic Design by Riw Rakkulchon, Costume Design by Mika Eubanks, Lighting Design by Alan C. Edwards, Composer & Sound Design by Frederick Kennedy, Projection Design by Brittany Bland, Properties Design by Samantha Shoffner, Hair & Makeup Design by Earon Nealey, with Production Stage Manager Jessica Forella* and Stage Manager Chris Steckel*.

Costume Design by Mika Eubanks. Photo by Lia Chang

Costume Design by Mika Eubanks. Photo by Lia Chang

Scenic Design by Riw Rakkulchon. Photo by Lia Chang

Scenic Design by Riw Rakkulchon. Photo by Lia Chang

Twelfth Night marks the 10th year CTH has brought free theater to Marcus Garvey Park, continuing its mission to create a vibrant community hub for theater and the arts in the heart of Harlem.

Alexandria King, J’Laney Allen, Director Carl Cofield and William DeMeritt. Photo by Lia Chang

“While BIPOC productions are popular at this moment, The Classical Theatre of Harlem has been at the forefront of changing the face of American theater for years,” said Ty Jones. “We have been persistent in challenging classical texts to make them more vibrant and relevant for the communities that have been sidelined for much of the history of American theater. Twelfth Night will not only continue the conversation but spark new opportunities with and for the communities we serve.”

J’Laney Allen, Christina Sajous and Director Carl Cofield. Photo by Lia Chang

Carson Elrod as Sir Andrew Aguecheek and Chivas Michael as Sir Toby. Photo by Lia Chang

Alexandria King, William DeMeritt, Israel Erron Ford and Allen Gilmore. Photo by Lia Chang

Alexandria King and William DeMeritt. Photo by Lia Chang

William DeMeritt, Director Carl Cofield and Christina Sajous. Photo by Lia Chang

William DeMeritt, who plays Duke Orsino, in dance call with the company. Photo by Lia Chang

Dance call with Choreographer Tiffany Rea-Fisher, Cassandra Lopez, Chivas Michael, J’Laney Allen, Israel Erron Ford and Alexandria King. Photo by Lia Chang

Dance call with Cassandra Lopez, J’Laney Allen, Israel Erron Ford, Christina Sajous, Chivas Michael. Photo by Lia Chang

Chivas Michael (center), who plays Sir Toby, in dance call. Photo by Lia Chang

Israel Erron Ford plays Feste. Photo by Lia Chang

William DeMeritt and Director Carl Cofield. Photo by Lia Chang

Christina Sajous plays Olivia. Photo by Lia Chang

Christina Sajous plays Olivia. Photo by Lia Chang

J’Laney Allen as Sebastian and Denzel Fields as Antonio. Photo by Lia Chang

William DeMeritt plays Duke Orsino. Photo by Lia Chang

William De Meritt and Allen Gilmore. Photo by Lia Chang

Israel Erron Ford and Allen Gilmore. Photo by Lia Chang

About The Classical Theatre Of Harlem
The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) is an American theater company that tells stories through the lens of he African diaspora. CTH combines original adaptations, music, and dance to present great classics of world literature and contemporary works that will st nd the test of time. Since its founding in 1999, CTH has presented works ranging from traditional classical playwrights (Anton Chekhov, Euripides and William Shakespeare) to established 20th-century playwrights (August Wilson, Langston Hughes and Jean Genet) to new plays by merging playwrights. CTH also proudly provides theater-based training and live theater experiences to Harlem youth and their families through its arts education progr m, Project Classics. The organization incorporates other theater-related programming including Future Classics, Playwrights’ Playground, and Revisited Classics to engage new audiences, invest in artistic development and give exposure to emerging creators.

The company serves over 18,000 live audience mem ers (pre-pandemic). Its new online offerings have drawn over 500,000 viewers. To learn more, visit

Lia Chang and Director Carl Cofield. Photo by Lia Chang

Lia Chang

LIA CHANG is a Chinese-American actor, a multi-media content producer, an award-winning filmmaker, and a photo activist and documentarian, who lifts up and amplifies BIPOC communities and artists and the institutions that support them.

Lia moved to New York from her home in San Francisco when she was 17 years of age and made her stage debut as Liat in a national tour of South Pacific with Barbara Eden and Robert Goulet. She spent many years working extensively Off-Broadway, including Signature Theatre’s revival of Sam Shepard’s Chicago. Her film work includes Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, and The Last Dragon. The decades of being viewed by others through the narrow lens of “Asian actor” in the industry brought Lia to a turning point, and she picked up her camera, determined to create awareness by documenting the work and the lives of her BIPOC colleagues, resulting in the creation of thousands of photographs and pieces of video. Her photo archives are housed in the AAPI collection in the Library of Congress’ Asian Reading Room under “Lia Chang Theater Portfolio collection,1989-2011” and in the “Lia Chang Photography Collection” in The Billy Rose Theatre Division of the New York Public Library.

Lia’s awards include the 2000 OCA Chinese American Journalist Award, the 2001 AAJA National Award for New Media and the 2022 Prospect Muse Award. She is also an AAJA Executive Leadership Graduate, a Western Knight Fellow at USC’s Annenberg College of Communications for Specialized Journalism on Entertainment Journalism in the Digital Age, a National Press Photographers Association Visual Edge/Visual Journalism Fellow at the Poynter Institute for New Media, and a Scripps Howard New Media Fellow at the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

More recently, Lia co-founded Bev’s Girl Films, which makes films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. She executive produced and starred in the indie films Hide and Seek (AA Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Best Actress Nomination), Rom-Com Gone Wrong, and When the World Was Young (2021 DisOrient Film Audience Choice Award for Best Short Narrative).

Lia is honored to have worked with Prospect Theater Company on a shared mission of lifting up BIPOC theater artists and creating a more diverse and inclusive musical theater canon. A retrospective of Lia’s photographs will be on view at the Museum of the City of New York later this year, documenting her BIPOC colleagues and contemporaries in the performing arts, which will include photos of Prospect Theater Company artists at work.,