TURN ME LOOSE: The Dick Gregory Story at Arena Stage


Turn Me Loose, the story of Dick Gregory, the first Black comedian-activist to radically explore racial comedy premiered in Washington, DC at Arena Stage to enthusiastic crowds, last week. Gregory's pioneering achievement in the world of comedy where no topic was taboo and bigotry was confronted is expertly performed by actor and former stand-up comedian, Edwin Lee Gibson.

The politically charged 60's, a time of civil unrest, was the tipping point and the start of Gregory's successful stand-up career. Soon thereafter, he would leave this lucrative path in pursuit of his lifework in activism in the nation's capital.

“Dick Gregory – uniquely – sacrificed an extremely successful and lucrative career for activism,” shares John Gould Rubin, Director.


Playwright Gretchen Law expertly weaves the past and near-present together, using Gregory’s own words to demonstrate the inextricability of social justice from his comedy, and offer insight into why Gregory eventually would close the door on standup to become a writer, speaker, and political activist.

“Dick Gregory’s impact is more than being a socially conscious comedian,” says Molly Smith. “He put his heart where his mouth was and used a talent for comedy as a platform for action – and change. He lived in our town and it’s a joy to present a play about him.”


Turn Me Loose runs at Arena Stage through October 14, 2018. Run time approx. 90 mins without intermission.

Dick Gregory: Edwin Lee Gibson
Stand-up Comic/Emcee/Interviewer/Gospel Singer/Heckler/Cabbie: John Carlin

Playwright: Gretchen Law
Director: John Gould Rubin
Scenic Designer: Christopher Barreca
Costume Designer: Susan Hilferty
Lighting Designer: Stephen Strawbridge
Sound Designer: Leon Rothenberg
Casting Directors: Jack Doulin, Victor Vazquez
Stage Manager: Erin Cass
Assistant Stage Manager: Christi B Spann
TICKETS: Tickets for Turn Me Loose are $40-95, subject to change and based on availability, plus applicable fees. For information on savings programs such as pay-your-age tickets, student discounts, Southwest Nights and hero’s discounts, visit Arena Stage Tickets and Programs

Tickets may be purchased online at arenastage.org by phone at 202-488-3300 or at the Sales Office at 1101 Sixth St., SW, D.C.


 MADLYN MCAULIFFE  @MadlynMcAuliffe and CECILIA MENCIA @DCTrending contributed to this story.