Tectonic Theater Project's
The Tallest Tree in the Forest

Written by Daniel Beaty and Directed by Moisés Kaufman
Scenery Derek McLane
Costumes Clint Ramos
Projections John Narun
Lighting David Lander
Sound Lindsay Jones  

Photo Credit: Max Gordon (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2015)

Photo Credit: Max Gordon (Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2015)

The Tallest Tree in the Forest is a solo play with music about the life of one of the most dynamic figures in American History – Paul Robeson. Robeson was a scholar, athlete, activist, vocalist, attorney, and the most celebrated African-American actor of his time. Born the son of a slave, he rose to the heights of international fame, then saw it all crumble during the McCarthy era when he was condemned for his political beliefs and his career was destroyed. Playing almost 40 characters and joined by a trio of musicians, this theatrical work illuminates the journey of Paul Robeson as an artist and activist, and how his humanity, courage and contradictions resulted in being heralded as The Tallest Tree in the Forest.

"Engrossing...Mr. Beaty shines an illuminating light on the life of an important American artist."New York Times (Full Review)


2015 NAACP Theatre Awards

Best One Person Show | DANIEL BEATY (winner)
Best Playwright | DANIEL BEATY (winner)
Best Director | MOISÉS KAUFMAN (nominated)


About the Creative Team

Daniel Beaty

Daniel Beaty

Daniel Beaty is an award-winning actor, singer, writer, and community activist. His critically acclaimed plays Through the NightEmergencyMr. Joy, and The Tallest Tree in the Forest - Paul Robeson, have been performed at venues ranging from the Public to Lincoln Center to the White House, and garnered numerous awards including an Obie award for writing and performance and three NAACP Theater Awards. A highly requested keynote speaker, Beaty has worked throughout the U.S., Europe, and Africa. Beaty has also spoken at all staff retreats and led leadership training for a myriad non-profits and corporations. In fall 2013, Beaty launched a nationwide initiative called I DREAM using the tools of storytelling to help individuals and communities heal trauma. Beaty’s feature film (co-writer & star) Chapter & Verse will be released in theaters nationwide in fall 2016. Beaty just completed a documentary about the impact of mass incarceration on children and families called Behind the Glass sponsored by the Ford Foundation. His poem Knock Knock became an Internet sensation receiving millions of views and has been transformed into a children's book, also titled Knock Knock, published by Little Brown Books. Penguin-Random House published his empowerment book Transforming Pain to Power in February 2014.

Moisés Kaufman

Moisés Kaufman

A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Moisés Kaufman is a Guggenheim Playwriting Fellow, an OBIE Award winner, and the Artistic Director of Tectonic Theater Project, a laboratory for new works in theater that he founded 25 years ago with his husband, Jeffrey LaHoste. His plays have been among the most frequently produced in the American theater over the last decade.

Moisés is the writer and director of Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde and 33 Variations, whose Broadway production starring Jane Fonda earned five Tony Award nominations. With other members of Tectonic Theater Project, he co-authored The Laramie Project and The Laramie Project: Ten Years Later, as well as the film adaptation of The Laramie Project for HBO, for which he received two Emmy Award nominations (Best Direction and Best Writing), the GLAAD Media Award, the National Board of Review (Best TV Movie), and the Humanitas Prize. His Broadway directing credits include The Heiress with Jessica Chastain; Rajiv Joseph’s Pulitzer Prize finalist Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo with Robin Williams; and Doug Wright’s Pulitzer and Tony Award-winning I Am My Own Wife. Regional: Bent (Mark Taper Forum, Los Angeles), The Tallest Tree in the Forest (Arena Stage, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse); and Master Class with Rita Moreno (Berkeley Repertory Theatre).

Moisés is currently directing and writing a new Broadway-bound Afro-Cuban jazz adaptation of Bizet’s Carmen with Grammy Award-winning composer Arturo O’Farrill.

He is a recipient of the 2015 National Medal of Arts, the highest honor awarded to an artist by the United States government.


About Tectonic Theater Project

Tectonic Theater Project is an award-winning company whose plays are among the most performed around the world. The company is dedicated to developing innovative works that explore theatrical language and form, fostering an artistic dialogue with audiences on the social, political, and human issues that affect us all. In service to this goal, Tectonic supports readings, workshops, and full theatrical productions, as well as training for students in the company’s trademarked technique, Moment Work. Since its founding by Moisés Kaufman and Jeffrey LaHoste in 1991, Tectonic Theater Project has transformed the landscape of American theater with plays that are stunningly theatrical and powerful agents of change. The company’s groundbreaking plays have included The Laramie Project, Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, I Am My Own Wife, 33 Variations, and The Tallest Tree in the Forest, among others.

Tectonic Theater Project productions have won one Pulitzer Prize; eight Tony nominations; three Tony Awards; four Emmy nominations; three Obie Awards; three Lucille Lortel Awards; two Drama Desk Awards; three Outer Critics Circle Awards; three NAACP Awards; GLAAD Media Award; 2002 Humanitas Prize.

Not only have Tectonic productions been successful artistically, they have also sparked national discourse about their subjects and have inspired artists and audiences worldwide. In fact, President Obama invited Tectonic to the White House to witness the signing of the Matthew Shepard/James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act, in recognition of Tectonic's contribution to the national dialogue around LGBTQ hate crimes. And, Founder Moisés Kaufman received the 2015 National Medal of Arts from President Obama for his powerful contribution to American theater. As President Obama noted, “[Moisés Kaufman’s] work sensitively probes questions of culture and sexuality. His award- winning Tectonic Theater Project continues to move audiences with its bold portrayals of contemporary social issues.”