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York

Powerful play comes to Portland

3/8/2016, 4:56 p.m.
Powerful one-man play told by York, the only black man on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, comes to Jefferson High ...
David Casteal plays the character York, the only black man on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, in a powerful, one-man performance.

A powerful one-man play told by York, William Clark’s childhood companion slave, who accompanied the Corps of Discovery as the only black man on the Lewis and Clark Expedition, comes to Jefferson High School for two public performances this weekend.

“York” as a benefit for the early college academy at the Native American Youth and Family Center (NAYA) in northeast Portland and the ReBuilding Center’s Community Outreach Program.

David Casteal plays the character of York. In a stirring performance, the Spokane actor weaves the story of York’s challenges and accomplishments, blending gripping first-person narration with energetic, live African drumming and traditional Native American drum recordings.

Although York proved an important participant in the Expedition, as a black man and a slave, he was not recognized as a member of the Corps of Discovery until nearly 200 years after the Expedition. In 2001, President Bill Clinton posthumously awarded York the rank of Honorary Sergeant in the Corps of Discovery.

“York” premiered at the Spokane Civic Theatre in 2005, directed by Susan Hardie and performed by Casteal, and had its first showing in New York City the following year.

The production was conceived by Casteal and playwright Bryan Harnetiaux, Spokane Civic Theatre’s playwright-in-residence, and has been performed across the Northwest to packed houses and standing ovations.

Showtimes for the Portland performances are 7 p.m. on Saturday, March 12 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, March 13 in the Jefferson High School auditorium. Tickets are $7 for students and $12 for adults and may be purchased online at rebuildingcenter.org/york.