Play to premiere at the Andrew Freedman Home

Lead cast members of The Fall of the Kings with producer Walter Puryear (seated, left) and playwright/director Mai Sennaar (seated, right).
Photo by Kristen McFarland

The historic Andrew Freedman Home on the Grand Concourse will play stage to a brand new play this fall.

‘The Fall of the Kings,’ written and directed by Mai Sennaar and produced by Walter Puryear from the Andrew Freedman Home, will run from September 5 through November 1.

The production is described as “A new American drama with Afro-Caribbean roots.”

Set in the south end of Boston in the 1940s, the play tells the story of an African-American heiress and her Caribbean husband fighting to sustain their family in the midst of an economic disaster.

The chronicle of the family’s struggle includes themes of culture and identity, said Sennaar, a Maryland native whose first play, The Broken Window Theory, was produced at the famed Nuyorican Poets’ Cafe when she was 19.

“Her play speaks to finding your place within a society,” said Puryear, who also produced Black Wall Street in 2014.

Sennaar was introduced to Puryear through one of the actors, and it turned out they both graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, although several years apart.

Puryear, who has been involved in transforming the Andrew Freedman Home into a cultural center for the past several years, brought the play to the landmark, which was built in the 1920s as a retirement home for elite elderly who had lost their fortunes.

The grand old mansion turned out to be the perfect fit for the story, and Sennaar was able to integrate the setting into the play.

“The production does its best to bring the audience into the King’s home,” said Sennaar.

The production is also immersive, she said, breaking down the fourth wall and inviting the audience to participate at key parts.

Sennaar describes the tone as serious but entertaining, and said it strikes both funny and sad notes.

She hopes that people will connect with the characters on an emotional level.

Puryear is confident that the work will resonate.

“Brilliant is the word,” he said.

Bronxites in particular will identify with certain themes, he said, such as holding on to identity in face of losing property, which is relevant to impending gentrification in the borough.

“I think this play will provoke people to think about their own situation,” said Puryear.

He also hopes it will inspire young Bronxites to pursue their artistic goals.

Producing The Fall of the Kings at the Andrew Freedman Home fits into its mission of bringing artists to the Bronx to create art that impact the community, he said.

The home is run by the Mid-Bronx Senior Citizens Council, which has been doing social work in the neighborhood for more than 40 years, and providing cultural opportunities is an important element of that mission, said Puryear.

Tickets to The Fall of the Kings, which range from $30 to $45, can be purchased through

Reach Reporter Jaime Williams at 718-260-4591. E-mail her at

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