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Langston Hughes lecture to review career achievements of 'Grandfather Huxtable' actor

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Langston Hughes Visiting Professor of Theatre Baron KellyLAWRENCE — It’s not uncommon for people to learn something new about their grandfather late in life. The same is true for fictional grandfathers and the people who breathe life into their characters.

Actor Earle Hyman is best known to American audiences as Grandfather Huxtable on the popular 1980s TV comedy “The Cosby Show.” Hyman’s long, distinguished international performing career will be the focus of the next Langston Hughes Visiting Professor Lecture at the University of Kansas.

Baron Kelly, the spring 2017 Langston Hughes Visiting Professor in the KU Department of Theatre, will present "Earle Hyman: Pioneer of the Norwegian Stage” at 3:30 p.m. March 15 in The Commons of Spooner Hall. All are welcome.

In his lecture, Kelly will probe Hyman’s career and his decades-long work on the stages of Norway. Hyman's first Norwegian performance was in 1963 as Othello for Den Nationale Scene (The National Stage) in Bergen. With Othello, Hyman made theatrical history by being the first African-American to perform in Norway. His appearance preceded the first immigrant arrivals and the subsequent phenomenon of actors of color in Norway. In the more than 50 years since Hyman acted on stage in Norway, questions of multiculturalism and nontraditional casting in Norway loom large.

Kelly is an internationally recognized critic, historian, practitioner and scholar. In addition to his long list of acting and directing credits on Broadway, television and film, he is an associate professor and head of acting in the Theatre Arts Department at the University of Louisville. Kelly is a four-time Fulbright Scholar and a member of the National Theatre Conference. He has traveled extensively as a cultural specialist for the U.S. State Department’s Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs, teaching and lecturing on the theatre in Russia, Scandinavia, Africa, Europe and Asia. He has been a fellow at Harvard University’s W. E. B. Du Bois Research Institute at the Hutchins Center for African & African American Research. Currently, he serves on both the Comparative Drama Conference Editorial Board and Stanislavsky Institute Advisory Board.

He earned his doctorate in theatre from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, a diploma from the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London and an MFA in acting from California State University, Long Beach.

The Langston Hughes Visiting Professorship was established at the University of Kansas in 1977 in honor of the African-American poet, playwright and fiction writer who lived in Lawrence from 1903 to 1916. The professorship brings a prominent or emerging minority scholar to the University for one semester each year. The Langston Hughes Professorship has been a valuable vehicle for bringing prominent minority scholars to the University for visiting appointments, as well as for recruiting permanent faculty.

Photo: Baron Kelly

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