KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Kalamazoo College will offer an opportunity for people in the community to see Martin Luther King Jr. in a different light through a play called “The Mountaintop.”

Written by Katori Hall, the play’s title refers to the 1968 speech King delivered to a Memphis church congregation during the city’s sanitation workers’ strike.

The two-actor play about Martin Luther King Jr. and his mark on history is directed by assistant professor of theatre arts Quincy Thomas. The production is set entirely in room 306 of the Lorraine Motel on the eve of King’s assassination. K College alumnus Jared Pittman will play the role of King and a young hotel maid named Camae will be played by K College student Milan Levy. 

“[Levy] is a very talented Black woman in this space and she does a great job portraying a character who during that time period was looked at as the mule of the country,” Pittman said. “She is so very talented, and I feed off her. We feed off each other, but I feed off her so much more than she knows.”

Pittman said this is the most challenging role he’s played, but one he’s excited to bring to life on the stage.

“One thing that our director Dr. Quincy Thomas has told us or has told me is to embody him, don’t portray him because there’s a difference in portraying somebody and embodying somebody, so I’ve watched a lot of his speeches. I’ve done my own personal research on him, and I just come into rehearsal every night doing the best I can to embody that individual.” 

Pittman added that this is a different portrayal of King than what people are likely used to. It shows a more human side of him. 

“This story exposes a lot of different things that we don’t really get to see in our heroes and in our prominent figures that we put on pedestals. It really displays his anxieties, his stress, his potential infidelities, his paranoia and it just shows how human he was behind closed doors, and it just also gives individuals an opportunity to understand even our heroes are human and even they have things that they fall short at.”

Pittman hopes those who attend the show are inspired to reflect on their roles in culture and society and how they can affect positive change. 

“It’s going to be a quality show. The production team, the sound, the lighting, the individuals that came up with this set… it’s just all put together so beautifully, so I’m really looking forward to entertaining people.”

The production will be staged at the Festival Playhouse, 129 Thompson St., at 7:30 p.m. from Thursday, Feb. 23 through Saturday, Feb. 25, and at 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 26.

Tickets are available online or by calling 269.337.7333. Proof of vaccination is no longer required for attendance and masks are optional.