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DC Black Theatre Festival Makes 2015 Return

Broadway Black

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This summer budding actors and directors will have the chance hone their skills and theatre fans will be entertained in the nation’s capital during the DC Black Theatre Festival.

Starting June 19 attendees this year will be able to dive into all aspects of theater for when the festival takes over the District of Columbia for ten days.

The ten day festival is divided up into five categories consisting of workshops and stage performances.

Attendees will have the opportunity to see full length plays in three categories: Traditional, Urban and Gospel. This year only 100 plays were selected out of the 300 submissions and will introduce audiences to emerging playwrights and enjoy the works veterans such as August Wilson.

Onvbc 4e of this years anticipated performances will be from Vanessa Bell Calloway in Letters from Zora in her Own Words.

Washington DC is home to one of the largest deaf and hard of hearing populations in the United States. This year for the first time the festival will partner with these unique artist and writers to give hearing audiences an in depth look into deaf culture.

Acting workshops, for stage and film,will offer actors ranging  from beginning to professional the opportunity to better their skills with workshops ranging from auditioning tips to improv classes.

Workshops in stage makeup, set design and costumes will also be offered to those who want to make magic behind the scenes.

Competition will take place at the festival in the form of the Director’s Challenge.

Aimed to highlight the creative process of directing the Director’s Challenge five directors are randomly chosen and blindly given a script for play to cast and direct within ten days. Each play is no longer than 25 minutes and will certainly put budding directors to the test.

Serving as an incubator for dramatic works the New Works Reading Series will provide emerging and established playwrights the chance to see their work on stage and collaborate with other professionals and engage in audience discussions. This is one of the free festival events, but those interested in attending must register and reserve a seat.

DC Black Theatre Festival take place from June 19 until June 28 and tickets can be purchased here.

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Leads & Legends

Brian Stokes Mitchell Thanks Cherry Hill High School’s Ragtime Cast and Crew

Broadway Black

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Early January 2017, New Jersey’s Cherry Hill High School came under fire for their decision to censor their production of Ragtime. In response to parents and civil rights groups raising concerns, the school decided to censor the musical’s original lyrics. The main target of censorship, the show’s use of the word “nigger,” or as the non-Black community appropriately labels it, the “n-word.”

This, amongst other ethnic slurs, sits at the very soul of Ragtime. The musical, based on E.L. Doctorow’s novel, begins by depicting a world defined by segregation between white, Eastern European immigrant, and Black communities. Repercussions of that deliberate racial divide, namely a white man calling a Black man a “nigger,” then disrupt this world, further spiralling things out of control.

This show’s conflict is rooted in the repugnance of this word and Cherry Hill High School wanted to censor it. Censoring Ragtime of its racism and racial commentary is like making The Book of Mormon church-friendly. Many agreed, including 1,200 students, community members, artists, and original Broadway cast member Brian Stokes Mitchell.

Brian Stokes Mitchell and Audra McDonald in Ragtime.

Image: Catherine Ashmore

“Our country has an ugly history with race,” Mitchell said of the controversy. “To take the ugly language out of Ragtime is to sanitize it and that does it a great disservice.”

Despite threats to cancel the musical if they could not censor it, the New Jersey high school agreed to continue the production with the original book and lyrics, by Terrence McNally, Lynn Ahrens, and Stephen Flaherty.

Mitchell visited the school on March 3rd to mentor the students, prior to their March 10th opening, in conjunction with the Camden County East NAACP. They discussed topics ranging from the power of language to the show’s racial themes. Mitchell, while agreeing to participate in a talkback with the cast after a show, also performed “Make Them Hear You,” his big number from the musical.

To top it all off, he thanked the school with a video on Facebook.

We have to give our own thanks to Broadway’s finest. Brian Stokes Mitchell constantly uses his platform to educate and uplift young artists. His integrity and kindness precede him and his selflessness is consistent. This saga ends with a Tony winner’s gratitude and Cherry Hill taking a bow.

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Behind The Scenes

Behind The Curtain: Eclipsed Will Air The Historic Broadway Journey On Centric TV

Drew Shade

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Eclipsed is returning and this time it’s on television. Well, kind of.

According to the press realease:

BET International releases a multi-part documentary series chronicling the ascent and realization of ‘Eclipsed’; a Broadway play all written, directed and acted by women of African descent.

  • Danai Gurira (Zimbabwe), playwright
  • Liesl Tommy, (South Africa), director
  • Lupita Nyong’o (Kenya), actress
  • Akosia Busia, (Ghana), actress
  • Zainab Jah (Sierra Leone), actress
  • Saycon Sengbloh, (Liberia), actress
  • Pascale Armand, (Haiti), actress

A winner of nine accolades including a Tony Award, the play tackles the survival stories of five women near the end of the second Liberian civil war. Written by actress, Danai Gurira who was inspired by a New York Times article about Black Diamond, a female freedom fighter and the female peace activists.

Broken into three episodes, each part delves into a central theme; Context, Cultivation, and Community. The series documents the fearless women using art to combat social injustice and give voice to the voiceless. With a strong production team including Stephen Byrd, Alia Jones Harvey and Michaela Angela Davis the documentary uses cinema-verite style to complement the rehearsal/show footage and ancillary interviews.

Ava L. Hall, executive producer and Vice President, Programming & Brand Advancement, BET International commented:

“It was really important to us to capture and to some extent immortalise the extraordinary stories of these women in Liberia and also the women who fought to bring it to fruition on the other side of the Atlantic, in New York on Broadway. This is a tale of how sisterhood, support and humanity travels globally to create a vision which breaks boundaries, sets new standards and while sobering, inspires a generation to find value and strength in their stories.”

This ground breaking play took its place firmly on Broadway and this documentary will take a place firmly in your heart and mind. Celebrating the intersection of Black and women’s history months airing on March 1, 2017 at 8pm EST on Centric

This is not one you’ll want to miss. You’ll even see a guest appearance from a photoshoot Broadway Black did before the Tony Awards. Live tweet with us tonight! @BroadwayBlack

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