Saturday, August 31, 2013

Call for plays

I am accepting play submissions for production in Los Angeles. Strong media contacts and interested investors already in place! Controversial subjects only such as racism and homophobia!

I am happy to discuss details via direct email or by phone. To answer a few questions, there needs to be two strong characters that myself and my business partner, an actor out of New York can portray.
Darly Anthony Harper
We are of similar stature and range, African American, 35-45, although he is a few years younger than myself. We would like the subject matter to be that of Racism and/or Homophobia. I look forward to your submissions. 

Best,
Daryl Anthony Harper
darylanthonyharper@gmail.com

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Call for African American plays (NY/NJ AA playwrights only)

NO FEE REQUIRED TO SUBMIT YOUR PLAY TO THIS FESTIVAL The Griot Festival’s winner for Best Play will receive a prize of $2,500. Winner of Best Actor and Best Actress will each receive $500 The Griot Festival was created with the intention of offering a unique opportunity for playwrights/theatrical artists of African American descent who reside in NY and NJ. The festival’s purpose is to inspire and support both emerging and established playwrights/theatrical artists of African American descent who would like to step beyond the page and get involved in the production of their work. In short, they will have creative input from the first sentence they write to the last curtain call. It is also a great opportunity to become familiar with all the elements of a theatrical production in the making and to become familiar with the process that translates writing into a living work onstage in a safe and supportive theatrical environment.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Petronia Paley acting classes start 9/28 (NYC)


The indefatigable Petronia Paley is directing tonight's Antony and Cleopatra (8/28-9/1) for the Harlem Shakespeare Festival (7pm). Two months later-- as part of the Festival-- she will star in Coriolanus: The African Warrior (10/31-11/10). In between she will start Fall acting classes through her company I the Actor. The 12-week ITA course begins at 7pm, September 28th in NYC. 

Petronia is a veteran of daytime television having created long running characters (and a loyal fan base) on Guiding Light and Another World. One of her most recent TV appearances was as a board member on Damages  

The Inspirations Behind "I Have A Dream" Speech

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To commemorate the 50th anniversary of one of the greatest speeches ever given, please click here for a concise summation of the historical, biblical and contemporary elements of that time Dr. King used for literary and dramatic effect-- plus, the site has a recording of "The Speech." Although the speech will forever be inspirational to everyone, playwrights may want to bookmark this short analysis of the magic behind the words to remind themselves of the importance of being "well-rounded" with history and literature and how the use of rhythm and cadence in the spoken word can lift prosaic dialogue from the street and transform it into the lyrical language found in full-on Gospel pulpits and occasionally on the stage, its last bastion outside of the church. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Aural Sex at the Kennedy Center this Saturday, August 31st

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African-American Collective Theater (ACT) is blessed to have some of the most supportive, loyal, patient, encouraging, generous, enthusiastic and understanding friends imaginable. 

Over the decades (!) you’ve faithfully followed us from makeshift performance spaces to church basements, to less than ideal, underfunded black box theaters. You’ve put up with box office lines, heat, humidity, “Sold Out” signs, leaky roofs, noise, failing lights, thunderstorms, inadequate sound systems, obscure locations, impossible parking, rickety stairs, dust, overflowing dumpsters, hard folding chairs…and even the occasional mouse.

As a way of expressing our gratitude, I wanted to make especially sure that you guys, our ACT family, all knew about the performance we have coming up this Saturday evening, August 31, 2013 at 7:30 p.m. 

For the third time, we will be returning to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts’ “Page-to-Stage Festival” this year, with our final performance of “Aural Sex” -- a program featuring readings of six of my short plays, ranging between ten and thirty minutes each. 

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Many of the folks onstage will be familiar to you, along with some new, young, faces making their first ACT appearances. The cast includes: Donald Burch III, Brian Hamlett, Rashard Harrison, Tristan Phillip Hewitt, Stanley Andrew Jackson, Cleavon Meabon IV, Darnell Morris, Juan Raheem, Reginald Richard, David A. Richardson, Michael Sainte-Andress and, of course, Monte J. Wolfe. In addition, Gregory Ford has graciously agreed to provide the narration. 

At last year’s festival appearance, so many of you turned out, that we quickly exceeded the capacity of the relatively small space into which we’d been scheduled. We had to scramble and present two performances of each play, with the incredible overflow audience seated in the huge third floor Grand Foyer, which was definitely less than ideal.

In light of your overwhelming support, as well as a standing-room-only audience earlier this summer, when we presented a version of “Aural Sex” at the DC Black Theater festival – this time Kennedy Center has booked us into the Terrace Theater – a beautiful space with almost 500 seats. 

So, we invite you to join us this coming Saturday evening and spend part of your Labor Day weekend with the rest of our ACT family members at the Kennedy Center, where -- for a change -- you can enjoy comfortable seats, plenty of bathrooms, lots of space, no lines, functioning AC, easy access, including the free shuttle bus from the Georgetown/Foggy Bottom station on METRO’s blue and orange lines, as well as --NOT inexpensive -- garage parking. (Arrive extra early to score any available on-street parking.) 

But “Aural Sex” is still a cheap date, because best of all: 

Admission is completely FREE. No tickets or advance reservations necessary. And, obviously, plenty of seats -- so feel free to bring as many folks as you like. The Kennedy Center is giving us this prestigious spot, so we definitely want to justify their vote of confidence. As usual, suggested for mature audiences, of course. (This is ACT, after all.)

We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible Saturday evening and PLEASE -- share this and the attached info to help us spread the word!
Alan Sharpe
 


As always, thanks for having our back!
Alan Sharpe

Call for Plays

Milwaukee Repertory Theater Fourth Annual Rep Lab 
Short Play Festival 
Submissions due September 16, 2013 

Milwaukee Repertory Theater's annual Rep Lab Short Play Festival features The Rep's Artistic Intern ensemble in an evening of short plays. In the past, Rep Lab festivals have included work by established playwrights and emerging playwrights, funny plays and serious ones, published and unpublished scripts, and even a short musical. 

As we plan our fourth season of Rep Lab, we welcome submissions of short plays for the 2014 festival. Plays should be between thirty seconds to twenty minutes in length with a cast size between one to twelve actors. Plays will be cast from The Rep's multi-ethnic ensemble of intern actors between the ages of 22 and 35, directed by a combination of staff, Artistic Associates, and Directing Interns, and produced and designed by The Rep's Production Interns, all under the guidance of The Rep's professional staff. 

Playwrights whose plays are selected for production will receive commensurate royalty payments. 

Selection Process: Short plays received by September 16, 2013 will be considered for the 2013/14 season festival. Scripts may have received productions at other theaters or may be as-yet unproduced work. Playwrights may submit as many pieces as they like that they feel fit the stated criteria. 

Note: Due to the volume of submissions, we cannot respond to every submission. We will notify you by January 15, 2013, if your script has been chosen for the festival. Additionally, all scripts received will be kept on file for consideration in future Rep Lab festivals. 

Submissions 
1. Submissions should be emailed to Milwaukee Rep Literary Coordinator Leda Hoffmann at lhoffmann@milwaukeerep.com with the subject line "REP LAB - [Title of Play]" 

2. Please email scripts in PDF or Word format. 

3. Please include your name and contact information for you or your agent (if applicable), on the front page of the script. 

4. Please label the script file as follows: PLAY TITLE (Playwright's Last Name) 

LEDA HOFFMANN 
Literary Coordinator 
Milwaukee Repertory Theater 
Patty and Jay Baker Theater Complex 
108 East Wells Street 
Milwaukee, WI 53202 

Monday, August 26, 2013

Christina Ham's FOUR LITTLE GIRLS 9/15 (DC)

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Sunday, September 15th at 6PM at the Kennedy Center. 

Christina Ham
The staged reading of Christina Ham's Four Little Girls, directed by Phylicia Rashad, will commemorate the precise 50th anniversary of the bombing that claimed the lives of the four little girls in Birmingham, Alabama. The reading will also include original music and arrangements by Kathryn Bostic and feature young people from Howard University and the Duke Ellington School of the Arts

Please share this information with your relatives, friends, colleagues and/or any one else you think this might be of interest to. This event may be watched via your mobile device and/or computer. This multi-generational event is suitable for ages 6 and up. 

There are live staged readings planned all over the country, in addition to the Kennedy Center on September 15th. Check www.project1voice.org for a complete listing of cities across America. You may also host a viewing party of the Kennedy Center presentation in your home, office, school, college, university, place of worship or where ever people gather. This is a great event for community engagement. 

The underlying theme of this event is our connection to the past and what that connection means to us, both collectively and individually. It is about how that knowledge allows us to move through life—propelling us forward and how that lack of knowledge hinders us. 

These four innocent and beautiful girls, who have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, represent a powerful symbol of our quest for freedom and equality in America. This event is also, an opportunity for us to embrace our American history—though painful—and be able to put into context the tragic loss of innocent life that hate and senseless violence can engender, using the transformative powers of the arts as the catalyst. 

We most sincerely thank you for your time and continued support of Project1VOICE. We could not do any of this without your voices! 

If you would like to make a donation to project1VOICE, please visit our website at www.project1voice.org. No amount is too small or too large! 

On September 15th, how will your 1VOICE be heard? 

All the best! 
Erich McMillan-McCall

Erich 
Erich McMillan-McCall 
Founder/Executive Director 
Project1VOICE, INC 
347-871-8642 
erich@project1voice.org 

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Petronia Paley to direct Harlem Shakespeare Festival's ANTONY & CLEOPATRA (8/28-9/1)

Petronia Paley
Christopher Sutton
Debra Ann Byrd
Award-winning actress and director Petronia Paley** leads the Take Wings and Soar Classical Actors of Color as they share the stage with classical actor Christopher Sutton as Antony and Debra Ann Byrd as Egypt's last Queen, Cleopatra. 


Other company members for this Showcase Production are actors David Heron* as Caesar, Tauriq Jenkins as Enobarbus & Natasha Yannacañedo* as Charmian, with Getenesh Berhe, Egbert Bernard, Marckenson Charles*, Andrew R. Cooksey, Selina Hernandez, Julius Hollingsworth, Nicholas Johnson, Aixa Kendrick*, Tom Martin, Norman Anthony Small, Tarantino Smith*, Peter Tinguely, Dwayne Walker-Dixon, Justin Walker-White & Renauld White*. Scenic Designer: Pavlo Bosyy; Lighting Designer: Joyce Liao; Costume Designer: David Withrow; Sound Designer: David D. Wright; Assistant to the Director: Troi Danielle Hall; Stage Manager: Jacqueline Anscombe. Producers for Antony and Cleopatra: Debra Ann Byrd, Voza Rivers, Raphael 
Benavides and Dathan B. Williams. Assistants to the Producers: Julius 
Hollingsworth, Anna Chicco, Carmen Borla and Lainie Cooke.



Waterfront Amphitheatre in Riverbank State Park
145th Street & Riverside Drive/West Harlem
7PM
August 28th to September 1st
TICKETS FREE!
RSVP: Here!

TAKE WING AND SOAR PRODUCTIONS and VOZA RIVERS/NEW HERITAGE THEATRE GROUP in association with EAST HARLEM PRESENTS ... are set to bridge the arts across Harlem with the launching of the HARLEM SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL. 16 Events, Over 5 Months, Spanning August 28 - December 15, 2013.


*Member of AEA.
**Petronia will also star in Coriolanus: The African Warrior (10/31-11/10), Indoor Main Stage, Poets Den Theatre. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Reality vs. Fantasy in the Theatre and Film Business for Black Men and Women

Richard Gant
Sabura Rashid

Aduke Aremu interviews Richard Gant, Hollywood Celebrity actor from the West Coast (California)and Sabura Rashid from the East Coast (New York). Topic: "Reality vs. Fantasy in the Theatre and Film Business for Black Men and Women": The East and West Coast Conversation with Richard Gant and Sabura Rashid. To listen, please click here to hear about Gant's "Theatre of the Diaspora", the Senegal connection, and his Pan Africanist-- a global networking group for black artists, actors, and filmmakers, plus advice based on years of experience from Aduke Aremu for young black playwrights to go to Europe to get their work produced.

A Tip of our backward-wearing-Kangols to Owa for hooking us up with this great interview.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Black-Themed Theater Abounds in London

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LONDON — Something startling has happened to London theater of late, and most welcome it is, too. The capital is offering more plays with black themes at the moment than this city has seen in an age, and with a confidence and range that suggests the current surge might signal a sea change that is here to stay.

To continue reading, please click here.  

Thanks to Dr. Henry Miller for sending this our way. Dr. Miller is the author of the must-read book Theorizing Black Theatre

Keep your eyes open for the London production of Michael Bradford's OLIVES and BLOOD

Jaz Dorsey, 
Dramaturge

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

PERRI GAFFNEY’S “THE RESURRECTION OF ALICE” OPENS ETA’S 43rd SEASON SEPTEMBER 13 (Chicago)

Previews Thursday, September 12

Perri Gaffney
CHICAGO (August 12, 2013) --Helen Hayes Award nominated actress, playwright and novelist Perri Gaffney will bring her acclaimed one-woman show “The Resurrection of Alice” to Chicago, opening eta Creative Arts Foundation’s 43rd  season Friday, September 13, 2013.  Called a Riveting” “Dazzling” “Tour de Force” performance by Perri Gaffney, The Resurrection of Alice is inspired by the countless forgotten lives of young, black girls who found themselves in arranged marriages to men that were usually community pillars, financially comfortable and old enough to be their grandfathers.   It is inspired by a true story.

Performances of “The Resurrection of Alice” take place at 8 pm Fri & Sat; 3 pm Sundays through October 20, at eta Square, 7558 S. South Chicago Ave.  

There will be a preview performance on Thursday, September 12.  General admission is $30, with student, senior and group discounts.  Subscriptions to the 2013-14 season are also available for only $75 for five shows.  For tickets and information, call 773-752-3955 or visit www.etacreativearts.org.

Fifteen-year-old Alice looks forward to graduating from high school (a family first) and attending college on the scholarship she has earned.  But her plans are ruined when she learns that she must honor her parent’s secret marriage arrangements for her to the lonely, old family benefactor who had been eyeing her since she was seven-years-old.  Alice’s next twenty years of overcoming trials are a tribute to the power of nurturing and healing that can cause a broken spirit to be reborn.

“This type of arrangement, prevalent throughout many countries and cultures, was once a fairly common practice among African Americans through the mid 1900’s,” says playwright and actress Perri Gaffney.  “This piece was inspired by a friend’s mother.  When she told me about her mother the idea stayed with me.”

Perri Gaffney made her debut performance in the Washington, DC area at Arena Stage in the world premiere of Polk County by Zora Neal Hurston and Dorothy Wearing.  She originated the role of Dicey Long and received a Helen Hayes Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress in a Musical.  She last performed The Resurrection of Alice, adapted from her novel of the same name, at the historic Billie Holiday Theatre in Brooklyn, New York.  Off Broadway credits include The Waiting Room by Samm-Art Williams and a revival of Lillian Hellman’s Another Part of the Forest.  Other stage credits include The Road Weeps, The Well Runs Dry (Perseverance Theatre), Macbeth, Music Man and Death and the King’s Horsemen at Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and The Resurrection of Alice at North Carolina Black Repertory, Main Stage West, H.A.D.L.E.Y. Players (AUDELCO nomination for Best Solo Performance), Southern Illinois University, Pittsburg Big Read, National Black Theatre Festival and the Oregon Stage Works.

On television she played Nurse Bentley on As the World Turns and has appeared on Law & Order. She has several independent and documentary film credits including the independent feature So Close.  Other writing credits include How to Manage Artists in Pop Music.

Of Gaffney’s performance in “The Resurrection of Alice,” The DC Theatre Scene declared, “Seamlessly taking on dozens of characters… (Perri’s) rapid depictions were enough to convince me I was watching a stage full of actors!”                 

about eta Creative Arts Foundation

eta Creative Arts Foundation, Inc. was incorporated in April, 1971 as a non-profit tax exempt organization to provide professional training and work in the performing and technical arts for youth and adults.  eta has become widely recognized as Chicago’s leading performing and cultural arts complex in the African American community and one of only a few African American owned and managed facilities of its kind in the city.  eta has a commitment to the production of new works and the development of the individual artist.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Owa on the State of Black Theatre (Part 2: A Solution)

"If for instance, New York black theater is the hub; than each city, in each state, should be a connective spoke in the wheel that drives our ambitions. Where projects can be tried out of town and then brought back to NYC for extended runs. This vital step can only be achieved through a nationwide coalition." 

WHAT IS TO BE DONE? 
Part II 
(A New Paradigm for American Black Theater Movement) 
A Call for an Action Plan for the 21st century 

Owa
Rationale 
Despite the rise of China, terrorism, the end of the world prophesies and doomsayers, America nonetheless has an amazing future in the coming century; it is the center of the universe. Folks are coming to America from all four corners of the planet. This wave-front of immigration will change demographics as well as culture. Two major groups of immigrants already impacting American culture are Latin and African. Both groups come from an experience of destitution, and both mean and brutal circumstances. Given a generation or two, their narratives of the trial, error and assimilation will trump African American tales of horror and racism under the pall of slavery. In other words, if we haven’t gotten over slavery and our disabuse by whites, emigrant populations will care even less about our angst than our tolerating white folk. We will be confronted by groups who have supplanted other racial influences— both political and economic in our communities-- and turn a deaf ear to our pitiful pleas for redress. Black Arts and especially black theater arts will suffer accordingly. So the task is clearly evident; not only must “our” theater arts be preserved, the method of creating theater and the systems that support it must be re-created. Theater literature must be refined and modernized. In the words of Jay Z: “do it for the babies.” 

Necessity of Organization on a National Level 
Before any action can be taken to ameliorate a consistently terrible situation is the acknowledgement that black theater has no sustainable institutions. Each generation starts out as if they have to re-invent the wheel all over again. We learn nothing practical from our history, making it neigh impossible to control our present circumstances and thus, we gain little for our future. Any attempt to self-actualize 21st century black theater must of its own necessity, firmly laying a foundation for sustainable activities. There must be ethnically controlled institutions for our music, dance and theater projects. Having created sustainable institutions lays the groundwork for another important phase of the work, as it were: the necessity for networking on a national level. If for instance, New York black theater is the hub; than each city, in each state, should be a connective spoke in the wheel that drives our ambitions. Where projects can be tried out of town and then brought back to NYC for extended runs. This vital step can only be achieved through a nationwide coalition. 

Permutations as the Mother of Inventions 
It is a dynamic feature of the current theatrical milieu, that the cultural imperative is that community theater must adjust if not entirely leave its brick and mortar environ behind, changing the manner in which audiences experience theater; understanding that conventional staging projects is a divisive programming strategy, resulting in a debilitating population and economic deficit. That audience will stay the same, and consequently, the work those audiences demand will stay the same. There are entire market segments of the black community lying uncultivated, not yet realizing its fuller potential. These would include youth and others without the experience of the middle-class perception of theater. The style in which plays are conceived and written as well as their public presentation must change to seduce an audience that is yet to realize its importance to the entire concept of Black Community Theater, its theory as well as its practice. Theater arts must demonstrate its universal dynamism, its commonality with the experience of its audiences, providing not only entertainment of the finest quality, but raising the level of individual and therefore, community awareness of how the emotional underpinnings of life works, motivated by human drives through the active examination of the human condition. Theater arts are the advance guard of a new and insightful revolutionary force, instigating revelations of informed awareness. These changes can only occur if the dynamics of theater itself changes. The aim here would be to transform empirically, both renovated content and refurbished performance values and techniques. Audiences must be regarded as a significant active resource, and not a fixed, faceless group of strangers, sitting in a darkened room, minding other people’s business. 

Organizational Methodology 
I will strongly declare there is a critical call today in Black American Theater for producers and artistic directors, proficient in dramaturgy to cultivate and expand new works projects, to encourage emerging and established playwrights, to develop innovative and original work in order, to expand the scope of not just Black, but the global American theater as well. This would be a good thing. The most fertile ground for developing such a broad and inclusive program would be the established, resource rich and powerful intellectual plants of academia. Our future in theater will be secure in the output of colleges and universities. Their positive and corrective intersection with the theater industry could produce an unparalleled upsurge in a successful creative worldview, relevant to the twenty-first century American Theater. There is however a caveat here. New ideas demand new attitudes. To paraphrase Albert Einstein; problems cannot be solved by the same mentality that produced those problems. A good case in point: The reaction to Hip-Hop music and Ebonics. This art form (they are art forms) has its basis in ethnic vernacular, proto-Islamic (Black Muslim Scientology, viz. Five-per-Center dogma) and current social issues of the times. There existed a huge intellectual reaction from the middle classed values of both the Black Church and the Black Intelligentsia. Regrettably, lacking participation by our most astute and conscious minds, hip-Hop morphed into “Gangsta Rap” over the decades with very problematic and dubious results. In the early twentieth century, the same middle class reaction to early Jazz music (which brought us rhythm and blues as well as rock and roll) left these media bereft of academic input and support (until of course, white institutions recognized its values). Both art forms have blanketed the planet earth in an unprecedented and immersive mode with rare exceptions, sans black artistic management and controls. In order to avoid making this continued and fatal error; Black Academia will have to drastically change its attitude about black theaters’ art and culture matrices. A primary awareness of theater culture is the need for new works. Great theatres have always had their playwrights. We must have our new playwrights, and we will not have them unless we give them many outlets to see their plays produced. This is the best way in which they can learn to write better plays. 

Our theatre can never be stronger than the quality of its plays. The production of classics is healthy, but, we need progress, and the seed of progress lies in the new plays being written. The case for creative institutions as an underpinning of black theater is based upon my assertion that theatre, in and of itself, is an artwork, a collaborative artwork whose principal artist is the artistic director. The artwork is not truly alive until it meets its audience, so that we absolutely want and must have the audience with us, responding with their imagination and belief. But it is we who choose and create the work. Ed Bullins, Susan Lori Parks or August Wilson never asked anyone what they wanted to see or hear. Their art comes from deep within each individual artist and his/her confrontation and contemplation of contemporary times. The artist may be lonely or feel unsure of, or inadequate to, what she/he is making, but they must cling to their integrity. Add the proper institutional framework and there is created, a theatrical wholeness of an important and longitudinal sort. 

Dramaturgical Methodology 
Readings of the playwright’s script several times begins the process, taking notes of those valuable first impressions, and then discussing the play with other people. The ensuing dialogue reviews this information with the playwright and others, revealing important clues about the writer’s-- and the play's characters'-- intentions and process by posing questions like: Why was the play written and when was it started? How many drafts are there and would it be a good idea to read earlier versions? Have there been readings or workshops, and what was learned from those? Whom should I talk with to understand more about the world of the play? In speaking with the playwright, should there be any questions about their own work, or if it needs any assistance in preparation for rehearsals. Writers usually need help with something, and this then opens up room for discussion. Here are Six Dramaturgical Tenets as guidelines of new play dramaturgy: 

 Tenet #1: Take your cue from the playwright; the practice of new play dramaturgy involves not only experience and analysis, but diplomacy as well. 

 Tenet #2: Avoid irrevocable mistakes. Dramaturgical collaboration requires trust; when that trust is compromised, it’s not easy to recover. Generally, it’s wise to consider the playwright as the indisputable authority on the text. Your questions and their answers begin the dialectic that is the dramaturgical dialogue. 

 Tenet #3: Praise is always welcome, but critical inquiries should be specific and posed as questions. 

 Tenet #4: Discussing process relieves anxiety. Playwrights need to know what’s going on at each stage of production, and knowing the director’s rehearsal schedule allows important textual questions to be addressed beforehand. 

 Tenet #5: Ask the playwrights to articulate what they want to achieve, and also what they may want to avoid in production. 

 Tenet #6: Analyze the text. Ask the playwright questions like: 
 How does the structure facilitate the progression of action? 
 Is the structure efficient? 
 Is the sequencing effective? 
 Are point of view, stimulus, disclosure, similes, and turning points clear? Or, if desired,  are they clearly indefinite rather than blurred? 

These questions can ignite exchange about the play’s unifying metaphors, themes, and ideas, and may evolve into discussions about examination of character journeys, maturity of style, event, or structure. As the directors and designers are brought into the conversation, the dramaturgical dialogue expands to become more production centered or orientated. When rehearsals begin, the dramaturgy then centers around what remains unclear, what’s irrelevant, what’s missing, and focuses on arrangement and understanding.

Each player in the creative process of dramaturgy remains uniquely their own person; however, the above outlined process, effectively serves the production, the play, and the playwright, and is more or less archetypical of production dramaturgy. 

The important thing to recognize about dramaturgy is that dramaturgical skill is demonstrated through process. Fundamental to the dramaturgical work is the confidence that research and intellectual activity inspire the making of theater. Intellectual efforts and creative process are inseparable. Dramaturgical collaboration is built on the belief that consciousness expands an artist’s tools, that understanding history and responding to context can only enrich everyone’s understanding and release surprising, unexpected ideas. 

Such collaboration reiterates as a major tool and goal of the definitions of the production process, extraordinarily consistent with growth of the theater as a current era. Dramaturgy should immerse big ideas and small tasks in a total process, and try to keep the two connected. Dramaturgy itself is about inciting change, and so replicates any creative process, which is about change, the movement from question to discovery can be affirmed in that truth. Collaborative dialogue demands a high tolerance for open spaces, advanced skills in uncertainty, a hunger for the question and a commitment to surpass what is routine

Finally, in choosing a project to produce from a dramaturgical perspective, there are galaxies of elementals that require focus if something stands a good chance of working. Is it a story that delivers to the audience what the audience came to get? Does it interface with the world that we live in a way that people are already talking about or that they want to talk about? Does it have the prospect to be current in that way? Does it have a role in it that will either give a star, or someone who will give a star performance, an opportunity to give a live performance that people will want to see? Finally, is it a manageable financial arrangement that can be made? In other words, it’s very hard to produce a play that has thirty-five people in it, or a play that has extraordinary theatrical demands, unless you can configure these elementals in a reasonable amount of time and for a reasonable amount of money, the chances of mounting a sustainable show withers on the vine. 

What makes a good dramaturgical producer? 
The quick answer is taste, energy, passion, and access to money. The one thing that many, many Black producers lack is any real dramaturgical skills; a skill, happily-- which can be learned. There are structured and emotional ways of telling a story that are not rocket science, the key is to understand when a story is going wrong and how it’s going wrong. The current difficulties and demise of black theater at this juncture is not solely the problem of lack of funding. It is the lack of process. When one individual maintains the sole, god like power, to devalue a playwright, usually, any success of that theater is mainly given to luck. In this kind of crap-shoot luck can and does usually run out. 

I’m not talking about running a theater by committee either. The discussion here is about collaboration—true collaboration—by stake holders in the entire process. This process as it were, provides an opportunity to put to the test, the old historical race consciousness; we cannot agree on a single scheme to save our own skin. To devise a strategy for producing new works that sell tickets and give theater professionals’ income is and should be the goal of the new dramaturgy. A play is a product. An artistic product, but a product nonetheless. The playwright is the designer of this product. However, it takes a whole factory of workers to make this product viable and market ready. The playwright’s script is just the first cause. What I would term a market structure is necessary for the successful promotion of this product in the marketplace which is logically, a theater. However, definitions of theater are changing. This is an important factor for consideration among other things. 

An Organizational Call 
There needs to be a national call for organization on a regional basis from the four corners of the country. Eventually spreading to other areas of the planet. We need to gather under one tent and tease out the methodology of success in this venture of theater as a community effort. Creating compelling theater that all of America wants to see. The NYC based Black Theatre Network (BTN) for example can initiate a national call for a roundtable on the issues outlined here; with theoreticians like the Molettes, Samuel Hay, James Hatch, Dr. Henry Miller and others, chairing working groups, addressing the issues for further dialogue, future planning and actions. What I’ve outline here is not an end all, be all. But rather, a mechanism if you will, to kick start a 21st century Dramaturgical Theater Movement to redress the ills of our failing institutions

Owa 
Bronx, NY 
August 16, 2013

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Michael Bradford's OLIVES AND BLOOD 10/23-11/10 (London)

Please click to enlarge.

I'm excited to be the dramaturge on this production and excited that The African American Playwrights Exchange was a part of bringing this international collaboration into being. Playwright: Michael Bradford. Directer: Prav MJ.

Jaz Dorsey 
AAPEX Dramaturg/Founder

Monday, August 12, 2013

Owa on the state of Black Theatre

A New Look at Old Perceptions 

Please click to enlarge.
What is Being Done? 
Owa
Some time back, playwright OyamO opined the American Black Theater of being dead. In light of current funding situations (and there is a situation) along with a disheartening and skewered aesthetics lending a certain stench—something is rotten in Black theater and, presuming his argument has some legitimacy, scrutinizing the dramaturgical cadaver, one can surmise, the political/economy of black theater if not entirely dead, it is at the very least, zombified with sociologically fixated creatures eating the brains of its young while insisting their theatrical fare is the latest in haute cuisine. 

A general and informal examination of our current theatrical environment appears to offer up a dearth of dramaturgical and aesthetical criterion for a 21st century challenge to the existing and prevailing notion of what theater can be doing, from and for, the black theater going community. Playwrights are starving because of the lack of experimental risk-taking and solvent venues. Directors are scratching the surface, seeking one tiny worm of possibility in a hardened earth, resistant to their visions and the thousands of dollars spent on education, leaving mostly, post graduate, student loan deficits. There seem to be only a handful of Artistic Directors left on the tottering brink of insolvency, desperately seeking if not Susan, at least, four weekend running shows in the current fiscal year. 

Black actors are milling about, disenchanted with stifling reading venues-- which invariably lead to nowhere-- and wondering if and when they do get an up and running project who do they have to fuck to get outta this show? Living and working in New York City, the cultural capital of the western world, offers little solace for the paltry offerings of both For Profit and Not-for-Profit Theater. Speaking of the latter-- were it not for the reading circuit, many actors/playwrights and directors would lose their minds in this theatrical wasteland of diminishing returns. 

The black theatre practitioner like their white counterparts, are a special breed of artist, loving and passionate about their work ideals and stubborn in their occupational ethics to do any show at any or no cost. We are a hardy lot, like warring guerrilla combatants, living off the land while hotly pursued by those well-armed demons of mediocrity, espousing pretentious calls for order and the rule of law. Thinking everything must be fine in their theater existence, as they feast on themselves, waxing grandiose and corpulent as the background music of clinking cocktail glasses serenade their self-serving delusion. 

Our black audiences are emanating a distinct odor of senility, and decomposing, with little disposable income to pay for tickets which may not pay off a respectable entertainment return chronicled as an unforgettable evening of live theater. Our younger people find scant charm ---or relevancy-- sitting through live theater if it is not a celebrity concert encircled by an arena of thousands cheering, boozed-up and drug-addled hipsters, enshrining the virtues of the thuggish. 

Then there are the aesthetics of Black Theatre itself. Few of us get the chance to fail. Because of lack of resources, we come in failing. I’ve known many playwrights after more than a quarter of a century of slaving for their Muse have gone on to the great stage in the sky with luckily one non equity production to their erstwhile credit. The few up and running production companies are either doing coteries of established writers, sanctioned by downtown savants or dead playwrights who by dint of their death, offer no meaningful resistance to the issue of royalties. 

Finally, there are those companies holding high the banner of universalism— doing white plays in black face-- somehow overlooking the fact that white companies are not doing August Wilson or Ed Bullins in white face. Mature, middle class black audiences (who can afford and do purchase Broadway tickets) are hungry for live theater; it represents a certain societal standing and emotional rank of the intelligentsia within its comfortable routine of westernized culture. However, their theatre demands star power in casting, and safer subject matter eschewing riskier topics, evoking pertinent discussions during after theater dinner talk. Black high-end theater goers like their out of town counterparts are being entertained and not informed vis-avis the current human condition. Not that any real theater audience is adverse to thought provoking drama; American audiences are being numbed down as a matter of course, in the general entertainment malaise. A bread and circus atmosphere seems to exist surrounding current American Theater and our critical reviews carry less and less intellectual credence as counterweights to current fare. Even Tyler Perry’s brand (with its fantastic business model) of home spun theatrics has given way to his involvement in the wider reach of the electronic media, where billions of bucks are at stake. 

In New York City there exist only one weekly black print newspaper, its critical and aesthetical evaluations are treated as byproducts of publishing models. Other media hardly seem to acknowledge the existence of black dramatic efforts unless the producer is on the entitled list. 

America is a black and white nation. There is a black president with a white agenda. There is a black church and a white church. There is white justice and there is black justice. There is a white economy and there is a black economy. There are white communities and there are black communities. There is white theater and there is black theater. Aside from all the other white/black thingy’s, a peculiarity of America theater along the great color divide that is mainly a white thing: churches are turned into theaters. In the black communities theaters are turned into churches begging the question, Are black churches better revenue generators than black theater? 

All of the above considerations point for this author in one specific direction, what can be done about it? 

What is to be done?
Most non-profit theater is on the foundation and government dole. Without it, likelihood of survival is doubtful. With it, likelihood of realizing a cultural imperative is also doubtful. The financial strain to survive on the dole implicates— in the negative-- the grim future of a theater's ability to create theater arts. Unique black theatrical functions such as pantomime, clowning, dance, puppetry, exotic musicals and experimental projects are unfunded and therefore almost non-existent. So an entire realm of theater lives in the outer darkness of no money for support, Hades. Where there is no fiscal support, there is little development. An underdeveloped American black theater is akin to an underdeveloped black Africa— everyone is starving, unhealthy and mentally unstable and the children have little future. 

Like any colonial operation, there are prized elites with their vested stake in the status-quo; while the majority of us are restless natives, distracted by a contentious environ, where dreams are dear and life is cheap. American Black Theater (as well as western hemispheric Diaspora) is a contrite expression of the larger matrix of our collectively global social ills. As in the case of our political movements, eliminating the heads of our leadership, results in blind un-progress to nowhere. In our theater, the lack of leadership, results in the circular no-whereness of a century’s long trek through slowly realized— if realized at all— potential. 

So it would seem a black theater movement would require nay, demand, an all-inclusive dramaturgical leadership. Dramaturgy may prove to be the key that unlocks the self-imposed prison of wishful thinking that confines us to a static and flat theatrical landscape. What then is dramaturgy? In a word, dramaturgy is consequential guidance

To quote a biblical passage (and our condition is of biblical proportions) “For we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone to his own way.” Dramaturgy is a way of “getting it.” It can provide—if well thought out--- a set of operational parameters by which artist and their artistic organizations can potentate a fuller operational artistic model, based upon practical guidelines of consideration. The production of classics and other dead poets' works can be healthy to an extent, but we need progress, and the seed of progress lies in the new plays-– unproduced, unread, and unavailable-- the ones that are stacking up in the bottom drawers of a playwright’s desk. The older operational team models are quickly becoming useless. Where it was the producer and director with its satellites of playwrights contending and controlling the script process. There are now phalanxes of professionals, insinuating itself into the creative endeavor. The stuff of deliberation that propels theatrical projects must be a theatre that refuses serving the function of making money alone and start serving the revelation and shaping of the process of living. However, this goal can only be achieved with dramatic/theatrical projects that are designed for sustainable production runs. A four week run of a show is neither enough time to allow the show to breath, the actor to develop his/her character, and its audiences to consider its true merits; nor does it quantify the project as a viable candidate for inclusion in the canon of theatrical literature. 

Black theater must be revolutionary on two equally important fronts: business of theater productions and the aesthetics of creating theater literature. Consider the above and soon I will return to this topic, expanding on the notions contained herein. 

Owa 
Bronx, NY 
August 12, 2013

New dates added to world premiere of JACKLEG (LA)


Harriet A Dickey
Towne Street Theatre continues its 20th Anniversary Season with the World Premiere of JACKLEG, a new comedy by Harriet A. Dickey. In addition to the previously announced performance schedule of Saturdays and Sundays, new dates have been added on Fridays - August 16, 23, 30 and September 6. "JACKLEG" opens on Saturday, August 10, 2013 and continues through Sunday, September 8, 2013. Show times are Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 4:00 PM. Performances are at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, CA 90028. The theatre is close to the Metro@ Hollywood and Highland, with a validated parking lot in the 1700 block of McCadden ( ½ block east of the theatre ). 

In "JACKLEG" we discover that sometimes bad preachers happen to good people. The congregation at Blessed Hope Missionary Baptist Church has hired a new pastor, but in this case the Devil is not just in the details, but in the preacher himself. There's an "unholy war" going on at this church, and the backroom politics make congress look like a bunch of amateurs. While the Board digs up dirt on their new pastor, the good reverend makes a little dirt of his own to hang on to his position. 

All tickets for "JACKLEG" can be purchased online here. General seating is $15.00, with $12.00 tickets for seniors, students and groups of ten or more with advance purchase. For additional information please email info@townestreet. org or call (213) 712-6944. "JACKLEG" is a co-production of Towne Street Theatre and Stella Adler/LA.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

A Satie Souvenir 8/23 (NYC)


Please click image to enlarge.

Song and dance in honor of Eric Satie to benefit The Sprial Theatre Studio at The Metropolitan Room in NYC, Friday, August 23rd at 6pm. A little about the man can be found here. Please click here to order tickets.

Call for Plays


One Actor Black Theatre Is Seeking Black Playwrights 

Description: One actor black theatre is seeking black playwrights of one man and women plays about the African American, Caribbean and African experience. There is no submission fee, however there is pay if produced.

Award: Produced play and cash

Deadline: N/A

To read more about this opportunity, view their website

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Call for short screenplays

2014 SVA MPS Live Action Short Film 
program Request for Screenplay Submissions 

Submit your short film screenplay today and this time next year you could see your story on the big screen. The SVA MPS Live Action Short Film program is requesting short film screenplays to present to our incoming Masters candidates. Our students are looking to option compelling stories of all kinds, no more than 15 pages, low-budget, and able to be shot in the winter in New York City and surrounding areas. If chosen, your screenplay will be produced during our ten-month program. Each film is screened at a juried festival in June at the Director’s Guild of America Theater. 

The MPS Live Action Short Film Program is the only film school of its kind: In less than 1 year, *each student creates* a professionally-produced short film and attains a Masters Degree. Over the course of 10 months, our film program empowers each of our students to write and *direct their own short films* by providing them with the latest technology, instruction from *award-winning filmmakers*, and an experienced film crew. High-level production values combined with strong storytelling equals success in the film industry; for this reason, the student-films created in this film program have already gone on to be official selections at such prestigious institutions as *Cannes Film Festival* and Film Festival Internazionale di Milano. 

Submit your screenplay with: 
 1. Screenplays should be in PDF format 
 2. Attach your synopsis 
 3. Please include in the NOTE your contact information .

To submit you must first sign up for the free ISA membership here.