Spike Lee has directed a taping of Roger Guenveur Smith’s one-man Rodney King show, which has been picked up by Netflix to premiere on April 28 – a date that coincides with what will be the 25th anniversary of the acquittals of the LAPD officers who were videotaped brutally beating King in 1991.
Titled “Rodney King,” the work is an adaptation of Smith’s Bessie Award-winning stage production of the same name, and is the latest addition to a distinguished body of historically inspired work which also includes “Frederick Douglass Now,” “Who Killed Bob Marley?,” “In Honor of Jean-Michel Basquiat,” “The Watts Towers Project,” and more.
In the piece, promising a collision of history, poetry, and tragedy, Smith tackles the harrowing odyssey of Rodney King, from the national spotlight as the victim of police brutality, to his involuntary martyrdom that ignited the L.A. riots, to his lonely death at the bottom of a swimming pool. “Rodney King” is described as “a rhythm-driven mix of improvised movement and theatre, spoken word poetry” and, as Smith himself describes it, a “post-mortem interview with the man himself.”
He’s been performing the show at theaters across the nation since 2013.
Netflix’s “Rodney King” – which Spike Lee filmed last on August in New York City – is produced by Steven Adams and Bob L. Johnson for Luna Ray Media. Matthew Helderman, Luke Taylor, and Patrick DePeters are executive producing for Buffalo 8 Productions.
Below, watch a short clip of a previous live performance of Smith’s “Rodney King.”