Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Red Harlem Readers

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

'the standard' FUNDRAISER @ CENTERSTAGE NY 10/3 (NYC)

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Please Join 'the standard' as we celebrate our first year and help raise funds for our upcoming season!!!! You don't want to miss this beautiful event. Reserve your tickets at, and visit our website by clicking the post's title.
Open bar cocktail hour!
Live performances!
Aftershow DJ Dance Party!
Saturday, October 3 @ 7pm
$20 admission
Centerstage NY
48 W 21st St, 4th Floor Buzzer 401#
See you there!!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

AAPEX Interview: Keith Hampton

Keith Hampton

Kieth Hampton's film EARSHOT will be screened at 2:30pm on Sunday, October 4th at the Nashville Black Film Festival. This is my interview with him.

What role did film, acting and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?

I was always attracted to the arts growing up, particularly writing and drawing. I was always amazed at what filmmakers could do with a story, but I was interested in being a great storyteller on paper first. There was no actual film industry around me growing up, so it wasn’t a tangible resource. Writing stories and poetry was something I could do by just grabbing a pen a paper and tapping into my imagination. I wanted to be known as a great writer, like William Shakespeare, Edgar Allen Poe, James Baldwin, and Steven King. I wanted to say things in a way they had never been said before. I wanted to intrigue people’s minds. My greatest reward was always having someone read a poem or a story I wrote and say “Wow! That was a great story! How did you come up with that?” or “You know, I never looked at it like that before.” I think God spoke through my Mom by creating me through her and allowing her to pass along to me her passion for poetry. When I began to see the work of the writers I most admire being made into films and hear the conversations comparing their written works to the movie versions, I knew I had to learn how to make films so that I could bring my own stories to life on the big screen. That didn’t happen until I was in college.

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist.
Having evolved from a writer of poetry and short stories into a writer, producer, director and editor of film, the greatest change I’ve made as an artist has been becoming courageous enough to put my art out there for the public. I was introverted as a writer, because I knew I didn’t write like everyone else. I wanted to be great, but I was afraid about whether or not other people would get what I was writing and whether they would like it or not. My intuition told me that there would be criticism on both extremes about my work. I also was shy and afraid of not being able to handle my own nerves if my work would bring me a lot of attention. The thing I have maintained is that affinity for the unknown, both socially and in my artistic expression. I’ve learned that what I like most is to evoke thought, suspend reality, bring new questions to light, and be original. I’ve also learned that if I want something done, I have to be willing to do it myself. That is what makes me an independent. I got that from my Mom too who taught me that there is nothing in life that I cannot accomplish.

What inspired EARSHOT and what is unique about the film?
I began to write EARSHOT when I overheard an argument happening, did not hear what the argument was about, but by its tone sensed it could grow into a potentially violent ending. My imagination took me further than the argument actually ended up going. It did not grow violent, but I thought “What if I was the one who was affected by their argument more than they for being nosey and listening in?” My imagination took me on this journey that evolved into this story, which I originally called “One Man Show,” because I then thought about making it completely from the main character’s perspective. I knew that if we saw no one else in the movie, it would give us a more intimate connection with the main character. As I wrote the screenplay, I realized that shooting an entire feature film with only one on-screen actor would be both unique and affordable. I knew I wanted Vincent Cheatham to play the lead role because I’d worked with him before and know of his tremendous acting ability. I had no concern for whether or not he was well known. I wanted to make a great and unique film that I could have the resources to make, and I wanted the performance to be delivered the way I knew V could deliver it.

What other projects are you working on?
I have two scripts and a third story idea that I am considering. Ideally, I would like to announce which one is next after EARSHOT fully takes on its life and I am certain about when the funding for the next project will be in place.

What are your thoughts on Atlanta as a city for film making and film makers?
I think Atlanta is the chosen place for both film making and film makers, in the same way Hollywood was chosen back during the days of film makers like Frank Capra and Oscar Micheaux. People have been making films here for a little while, but the film industry and this town has almost come to the realization about the true potential that lies within here. I don’t think we’ll know completely until it’s all said and done, but I do feel that the potential of this city is on that level.

Please click the post's title to visit Mr. Hampton's website.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Ellis & Khan's FLY opens 10/1 at Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick)

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Flashpoint Theatre
916 G Street, NW
Washington, DC
September 25, 2009 – October 11, 2009

Do you think you've seen and heard all there is to know about the 2008 Presidential Campaign? Well, think again because Obamanologues is a new, vibrant, daring and thought-provoking theatrical production!
Obamanologues (pronounced Obama-nalogs) is a theatrical play whose title is the intersection of the two words: Obama and monologues.
Obamanologues comprises eleven chronological monologues each reflecting individual perspectives on Barack Obama's Journey to the White House.
Each monologue is presented by a different character (i.e., actor). The characters are as diverse as the public affected by Barack Obama's political campaign.With stories ranging from rebellious to spiritual to scholarly to controversial, Obamanologues depicts emotions and behaviors displayed by people in living rooms, classrooms, bus stops, and churches across this nation.
**Sept. 25th - 7pm
Sept. 26th - 7pm
Sept. 27th - 2pm
Sept. 30th - 7pm
Oct. 1st - 7pm
Oct. 2nd - 7pm
Oct. 3rd - 7pm
Oct. 4th - 2pm
Oct. 7th - 7pm
Oct. 8th - 8:30pm
Oct. 9th - 7pm
Oct. 10th - 7pm
Oct. 11th - 2pm
**Opening Night
Please click post's title to visit website.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Playwriting contest WARNING!

The following warning is from The Loop Online:

We've often heard of issues surrounding this contest. This is extracted from someone who was an intern at the theatre. We thought we should pass it forward:

Now the internship is bad, but what I learned about their contest is worse. The scripts she [producer] is so determined to have interns read are submission scripts for their big money making New Works of Merit Playwriting Contest. They charge $25 for the submission, and then offer the option of having your evaluation sent to you: one evaluation for $40 more or two evaluations for $80 more -- a price which she claims to have raised this year to "make it more worth her time". The fact is however that these evaluations are the exact same evaluations which the interns are doing for her. I am personally a graduate student at the _____ @ ___ University as a playwright, however many of the other interns are 18 year old actors fresh to New York having never attended college, some are undergraduate NYU students confused about how to read a script, and still others are simply people interested in becoming a "theater person" and looking to this internship to help them make an educated decision about whether or not to do it . . . .As far as I know she's the only "professional" who ever reads these submissions, and even with that she said on one occasion that if a script gets enough bad reviews she doesn't even bother reading it. After having spent three weeks with this group, I would strongly recommended that no serious playwright ever remotely consider this contest. And while I am sympathetic that this would mean losing another venue in a constantly depleting collection of outlets, I believe the practices which her group employ require this action. Hopefully this will help other people out there looking for a place to submit. Thanks for your time.

Visit The Loop Online at:

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Red Harlem Readers

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Sunday, September 20, 2009


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(Nashville, TN) The International Black Film Festival of Nashville, (IBFFN), welcomes a pioneer in the independent film industry, renowned television executive, actor and producer Robert Townsend. Townsend's documentary “Why We Laugh: Black Comedians on Black Comedy”, a 2009 Sundance Film festival favorite, provides a sweeping account of the cultural influence and evolution of black comedy in America from comedic greats such as Bill Cosby, Chris Rock, Whoopi Goldberg, Richard Pryor, Dave Chappelle, Eddie Murphy and much, much more. The film will make its “southern” debut at the Opening Night film on September 30, 2009 at the Regal Cinema Opry Mills 20 & IMAX. With more than 30 years of varied experience in the entertainment industry, Townsend, will be present for the screening followed by a talk back with the audience. Townsend , a multi-talented visionary and trail blazer, is best known for his groundbreaking projects in film and television such as “Hollywood Shuffle” ,“The Five Heartbeats”, “Partners in Crime”, “The Parenthood”, “Little Richard”, “Holiday Heart”, “Livin' for Love: The Natalie Cole Story”, "Carmen: A Hip Hopera" for MTV Films starring Beyonce Knowles and the popular television series “Soul Food.” Immediately following the Opening Night Film, IBFFN presents their Official Opening Night Gala with groundbreaking cable and satellite television network TV One. A new episode of “Life After” in HD will be premiered at the Opening Gala with a celebrity appearance from Omarosa from Apprentice. “Life After” gives you the stories of the likes of Christopher “Kid” Reid, Bell Biv DeVoe, Eva Marcille, Al Reynolds, Jamiee Foxworth, Taimak, Daryl “Chill” Mitchell and Omarosa, from their own mouths and they're not holding anything back. Filled with jaw-dropping confessions and shocking twists, “Life After” investigates what happened to them after a major turning point in their careers. For a complete list of screenings, workshops, and networking opportunities please click the post's title.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Playwright TREVOR RHONE dies at 69

Trevor Rhone

By Terence McArdle Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 17, 2009; 11:35 AM

Trevor D. Rhone, 69, a leading Caribbean playwright and screenwriter who co-wrote the 1972 film "The Harder They Come," which helped introduce reggae music and urban Jamaican culture to international audiences, died Sept. 15 in a hospital in Kingston, Jamaica. He had a heart attack.

"The Harder They Come" starred reggae performer Jimmy Cliff as an aspiring singer who becomes a hero to the poor after killing a police officer. The film, co-written with director Perry Henzell, was drawn from the story of a Jamaican criminal killed by police in 1948.
For many American audience members, the film was their first view of urban Jamaican life and culture. It featured reggae by Cliff, who sings the title song, Toots and the Maytals, Desmond Dekker and others and remained an art house staple in the United States for several years after its initial release. It also broke Jamaica's box office records, but did not enrich Mr. Rhone.
"It made money for somebody, I would imagine," he told the New York Times. "Not me."

Mr. Rhone's plays often used satire to comment on the social conflicts in Jamaica after its independence from England in 1962.

His first major work, "Smile Orange" (1971), showed the tourism trade through the eyes of underpaid hotel clerks and waiters at a Montego Bay resort. Although a comedy, the play conveys a bleak message that the exploitative nature of the tourism trade has led to racial self-hatred and malicious behavior. In one memorable scene, a clerk uses his spit and a discarded banana peel to polish the silverware.
Mr. Rhone directed a 1976 film version of "Smile Orange" that received friendly reviews. Meanwhile, he continued to write a series of popular plays, including "School's Out" (1974), based on his experiences as a teacher in the 1960s. It concerned a missionary school whose academic standards have declined dramatically. An overflowing toilet that no one will fix and an absent headmaster, represented by an unopened office door, were viewed as symbols of national dysfunction.

Writing in the Times of London, theater critic Irving Wardle praised Mr. Rhone's "gifts for loving characterization and powers of story-telling."

A farmer's son, Trevor Dave Rhone was born March 24, 1940, in Kingston and grew up in a rural village, Bellas Gate, which would later inspire his autobiographical play "Bellas Gate Boy."

In 1959, he left for England to attend drama school at Rose Bruford College in Kent and returned to Jamaica in the late 1960s when he grew frustrated with the low-quality parts offered to black actors.
"As a drama school student in London, I had visions of myself as a great tragedian," he told the reference guide Contemporary Authors. "I quickly learnt, however, that classic roles available to black actors were few and far between. And such parts as there were, were invariably written by white authors with little understanding of the black experience.

"My first acting jobs in the professional theater saw me perpetuating negative and stereotyped images of blacks," he added. "My first effort at writing a play was an attempt to find something worthwhile to perform."
His plays included "Old Story Time" (1979), which follows a Jamaican family on its 40-year climb through upward mobility, and "Two Can Play" (1983), a farce about a Jamaican man whose wife has her feminist consciousness raised after her visit to the United States.

In 1974, he married Camilla King. His survivors include his wife, three children and a grandchild, according to the Jamaica Observer newspaper.

As a writer, Mr. Rhone had always aspired to grand tragedy, but he noted with some humor that the audience did not always see it that way.

He described in a Times interview an early attempt to write a play about a "light-brown Jamaican" whose arm is in a sling after being shot. A darker-skinned Jamaican asks, "What happen to you, mon?"

"A mon a shoot me," the man answers, explaining that he was driving in his car when hit.

Mr. Rhone said the audience found it "very funny. Why did they find it funny? I can't explain it. 'A man a shoot me,' and they just bust open."

Then he offered that the humor comes out "once you see it's not your pain but somebody else's."

Friday, September 18, 2009

EL BANDIDO opens 10/16 (Philadelphia)

Landmark Productions
Community College of Philadelphia
(Bonnell Building, BG 10)
1700 Spring Garden Street
Philadelphia, PA

Friday, October 16, 7:30PM
Saturday, October 17, 7:30PM

Phone: 215-469-5373

This prodigal son story takes you on an unforgettable journey through the life of Talon Xavier Washington, the son of a successful businessman, and black sheep of his family. He willingly descends from his life of wealth and privilege, into the turbulent and exciting lifestyle of exotic dancing. What will he do when sex, women, and fast money are no longer enough?

Matinee: Saturday, Oct., 17, 2009 @ 2:30pm
Tickets: $25 (Advance Tickets), $20 (Group Rate), $30 (At the door).
Also go to: to buy tickets, or call 1-877-260-1116. There will also be a Saturday night show at 7:30pm.
We are Philadelphia's only minority owned and operated stage, film and television production company.

Blackboard Reading Series RSVP needed 9/21 (NYC)

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RSVP by: Sunday, September 20, 2009

Click post title to visit Blackboard Plays.

Crossroad Theatre introduces student matinees for Ellis and Khan's FLY 10/7 & 14 (New Brunswick)

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Click the post's title to visit their webpage.

Red Harlem Readers

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Call for Plays

Penn State University's new play festival CULTURAL CONVERSATIONS is celebrating its 3rd season in 2010, and has already produced staged readings for Sean Lewis, Saviana Stanescu, Jennifer Fawcett, Ruth McKee, Damon Chua, Vicki Grise, and Irma Mayorga. We are a funded festival with room/transportation/honorarium for playwrights chosen to participate, and new work appears every spring at The York Theatre in NYC as a part of Penn State at The York. Our website is down at this time, but we are accepting plays for our 2010 season and the deadline is 10/31/09. We are seeking full length works that circle issues of local or global diversity. This year's theme is "The Abled, Disabled, and Disappearing Body." Please send unpublished, unproduced work to:

Susan Russell
Artistic Director
Cultural Conversations
Penn State University School of Theatre
116 Arts Building
University Park, PA 16802

Source: The Loop Online at:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Call for Screenwriter

Ghostwriter Needed To Write/Edit Urban Short Film Scripts
Date: 2009-09-15, 12:15PM EDTReply to: [Errors when replying to ads?]
We are looking for a freelance ghostwriter to write, edit and format short urban black storylines into scripts for short films for our film company. We need someone with a great writing style that can adapt to all styles of writing in any genre but especially the urban genre that can work fast to complete projects. This is an ongoing position that we need a writer to get started with immediately. We are looking to shoot alot of movies and we need someone with the imagination and the fast paced writing skills to get the job done. Please provide a resume or bio with contact information and examples of work when responding to this posting.
Compensation: Negotiable
This is a contract job.
Principals only. Recruiters, please don't contact this job poster.
Please, no phone calls about this job!
Please do not contact job poster about other services, products or commercial interests.
PostingID: 1375592772

Source: Craig's List (Richmond)

Monday, September 14, 2009

Blackboard Reading Series TONIGHT (NYC)

Blackboard Blackboard!
We've missed you, and it's time to see each other again!
If you've forgotten, we are a monthly reading series at the cell, devoted to Black Playwrights

Next Reading:
Monday, September 14th (TONIGHT)
written and directed by Deborah Goodwin

September 21st
CHERRYS will be holding an invitation only taped reading with a very special cast, featuring: Leslie Uggams, Gloria Reuben, James McDaniel, Bill Cobbs and Aleksie Archer
Stay tuned for clips from those events on youtube:

Monday, October 12th, Blackboard will be doing something new, and presenting this "New American Opera"
Conception, Lyrics, Libretto by: Sherry Boone Music & Libretto by: Sean Jeremy Palmer Directed by & Developed with Tamilla Woodard

ELLEN CRAFT is based on one of the most fantastical slave escapes of all time. Ellen is the offspring of a white slave-owner and a black slave. She escapes to freedom by disguising herself as a white man while her darker-skinned lover William poses as “his” slave. An “oversized impossible American Legend brought stunningly to life” (Matthew Murray, Off Broadway), ELLEN CRAFT is the story of one woman’s struggle to reconcile all parts of herself. This New American Opera is a hybrid of the epic musical with style inuences of Puccini, Sondheim and Aaron Copland.

A 20 min. talk back will follow every featured reading and 1-2 questions will be taken following each reading on Community Evenings! ~Donations greatly appreciated~ For Submission Information, E-mail:

Visit our Updated website!

Thank You for supporting THIS NEW COMMUNITY OF ARTISTS over the past year!
See you tonight!

-- BlackBoard Reading Series2nd Mondaysthe cell338 W. 23rd (23rd b/t 8th and 9th Ave.)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Red Harlem's 3rd Season begins 9/27

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Friday, September 11, 2009

Jeffrey Nickelson, founder of Denver's Shadow Theatre Company, dies at age 53

Jeffrey Nickelson
Founder of Denver's
Shadow Theatre Company

Jeffrey Nickelson, founder of Denver's only black theatre company, died Saturday, September 5th from a heart attack. He was 53. Nickelson founded Shadow Theatre 12 years ago. He started the company while living in a subsidized apartment and earning less than $13,000 a year. He called it "bold humility: being bold in the action and humble in what you have to do to make it go."

To read the full story, please click here.
To visit Shadow Theatre Company's website, please click the post's title.

Source: Terrence Spivey

Monday, September 7, 2009

AAPEX Interview: St. Louis based playwright Mario Farwell

Mario Farwell

What role did theater and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?
My early childhood was spent in a poor Afro-American neighborhood of St. Louis. I remember my mother would read to me and my brothers wonderful children stories that stimulated our imagination. My father had a tremendous collection of Jazz and blues that I enjoyed listening to. My first real introduction to theatre came when my mother took us to the Muny, a large outdoor theater, which presented musicals. I saw such musicals as “Meet Me in St. Louis,” “My Fair Lady,” “Cabaret,” and my favorite was seeing Pearl Baily in “Hello Dolly.” I eventually took the initiative and started to explore the world of the arts on my own.

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist.
Even as a child, I had an interest in the arts especially in the performing arts. I remember on a trip to Tijuana my mother purchased a set of puppets. I fell in love with these puppets and would present puppet shows with stories I created to anyone who would care to watch. I think my life long love for the theatre began at this point. I went on to produce little plays with my friends in the neighborhood. I eventually majored in theatre at the University of Missouri in Kansas City where my knowledge of theatre was expanded a great deal. After I graduated from UMKC, I move to New York City with aspiration of becoming an actor/dancer. The best laid plans often go astray, and I ended up drifting into writing. I had written a play in college, but hadn’t taking the idea of writing very seriously. My next effort at writing was a musical. I had no idea of how to write musical, and fortunately, I found a composer that knew great deal about the subject. I learned a great deal from him about the art of writing and especially writing musicals.

Why do you write plays and what do you write about?
I write plays as a sort of a therapy. Much of my work has been loosely based on events in my life. I usually take an emotion or dilemma that I’ve been trying to work through and put it on paper. I’m always surprised that the problems I consider to be so personal and unique to me have universal appeal. My life has been more affected by the interracial experience rather than just the black experience. Most of my plays deal with the complexities of white and black relationships. I create characters that make an effort to bridge racial stereotypes in order to gain an understanding of the person on a human level. I usually write dramatic comedies. The main thrust of the play is drama laced with a lot of humor. Last year, I wrote my first full-length comedy You Know I Can’t Eat Buffalo Meat When There’s a Terrorist on the Loose. It was produced here in St. Louis and was well received. I think I’ve got the comedy bug, and I’m working on ideas for a couple more comedic plays. Good part of my writing career has been spent in the creation of musicals. I’m currently finishing up an opera based on the life of Joan of Arc. I’m also working on revising the book and lyrics for my musical Starfest. Starfest is a musical comedy rooted in the sci-fi genre of the old serials of Flash Gordon. It’s campy, it’s irreverent and it’s raucous romp across the universe. The musical uses a blend of R&B, gospel and rock music to create the sound. The musical has an Afro-American cast with a blend sci-fi elements and Afro-American culture mixed in to make and interesting brew.

What is your take on St. Louis as a theater town?
St. Louis has a very large theatre community. There are lots of community, semi-professional and professional theatres in the city. Many of them are doing very good work. My biggest frustration with the St. Louis theatre scene is there isn’t very much original theatre that goes on in the town. Living in New York City for so many years, I grew accustomed to having lots of new theatre happening all around. One of things that I did to encourage new theatre was to start a playwriting group, The St. Louis Writers’ Group, to help writers develop their work. We meet twice a month and have had hundreds of plays go through the developmental process. I’m also on the board of directors of First Run Theatre in St. Louis the only theatre company in the area that exclusively produces original theatre.

Click the post's title to visit Mario Farwell's website.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Tarell Alvin McCraney on cover of this month's AMERICAN THEATRE magazine

Tarell Alvin McCraney

To read the article online, please click the post's title.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Call for Plays

The Castillo Theatre
launches the
2010 Mario Fratti-Fred Newman
Political Play Contest

The Castillo Theatre announces the launch of the third annual Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest. Castillo is seeking new scripts for the stage that engage the political/social/cultural questions impacting on the world today. The purpose of the Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest is to encourage the writing of such plays and to provide a stage for scripts that, due to their progressive/radical and/or experimental vantage point(s), would not otherwise be produced.

While Castillo recognizes that, in the broadest sense of the word, “all theatre is political,” the contest is seeking politically progressive plays that expand or connect or open up the conflicts they explore beyond the isolated relationship or family unit to a larger social/historical perspective. Castillo also encourages scripts that experiment with form and seek new ways of seeing and new ways of experiencing theatrical performance. That said, the plays submitted to the Fratti-Newman Contest may be written in any style, set in any historical time, geographic or fanciful location, contain any number of characters and be of any producible length. The plays must be in English and, due to production limitations, no musicals can be considered.

All scripts should be submitted in hard copy. No scripts will be considered that have previously received a full production or that have won other contests. Only one script per playwright will be accepted.

The winner (or winners, the number varies from year-to-year) of the Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest will receive a reading and/or a full production at the Castillo Theatre in New York City sometime during the theatre’s 2010-2011 Season.

The contest is judged by a team of Castillo theatre artists and activists along with a distinguished group of outside readers from the progressive and experimental theatre world. The final selection of the winner(s) will be made by a committee consisting of Mario Fratti, Fred Newman, Castillo’s dramaturg Dan Friedman and Castillo’s managing director Diane Stiles.

All scripts submitted must be accompanied by:
• Brief synopsis of the play;
• Character breakdown, including specific gender, age and ethnic requirements;
• Set requirements, including how many sets and any special effects needed;
• Statement of the political/social/cultural questions that the playwright believes she or he is engaging with the script;
• 100-word biography of the playwright;
• Stamped, self-addressed post card, which will be mailed back to the author to acknowledge receipt of the script.

Please note, that scripts will not be returned. All scripts must be received by November 15, 2009. The winner(s) will be announced at the Otto René Castillo Awards for Political Theatre to be held in New York City on May 23, 2010.

Send all submissions to:
Castillo Theatre
Mario Fratti-Fred Newman Political Play Contest
543 West 42nd Street
New York, N.Y. 10036.

Questions and inquiries should be addressed to contest producer Madelyn Chapman at, 212-356-8485.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

50% Off All Tixs at Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick)

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Please click the post's title to visit the Crossroads website.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Qurell-Amani's PANTHER WOMAN staged reading 9/26 (NYC)

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Eisa Davis' WARRIORS DON'T CRY opens 9/11 (Nashville)

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The Tennessee Women's Theatre Project presents Warriors Don’t Cry, a riveting one-woman show adapted from the diary/memoir of Melba Pattillo Beals of the Little Rock Nine, by the Pulitzer-nominated playwright Eisa Davis. We open September 11 at the Looby Theater for 11 performances through September 27, with a special added show at Scarritt-Bennett Center on 9/22

As one of nine African American students chosen in 1957 to integrate the 2,000-student Central, Melba endured a year punctuated by telephone threats, shouting mobs, military escorts, rogue police, firebomb and acid-throwing attacks, economic blackmail, and finally, a price on her own head. With the help of her English-teacher mother, her fellow warriors of the Little Rock Nine, and her gun-toting, Shakespeare-quoting grandmother, Melba survived.

Pulitzer-nominated playwright Eisa Davis originally adapted Warriors Don't Cry for Cornerstone Theatre, Los Angeles. Our production is presented with the permission of Ms. Beals.

To purchase tickets, please click the post's title.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

New Guide: A Historical Dictionary of African American Theater Chronicles Our Art Starting From The 1800s

Anthony D. Hill & Douglas Q. Barnett

Historical Dictionary of African American Theater is a 500-plus-page volume containing 600 entries devoted to performers, playwrights, directors, designers, composers, companies and others engaged in black theater in the U.S. from the early 1800s to the present day.

Published by Scarecrow Press, the reference book is the product of the intensive research of Seattle-bred Anthony D. Hill, associate professor of theater at Ohio State University, and Douglas Q. Barnett, who amid the fervent civil-rights activism of the late 1960s helped start the Seattle African-American troupe Black Arts/West.
A retired theater producer, director and administrator, Barnett, 78, chatted over coffee recently at a cafe near his Capitol Hill apartment about the project that has absorbed him for the past two years.

In some ways, the historical perspective came naturally to Barnett: He was raised with a keen awareness of the historical contributions of African Americans.

"The Barnetts are a pioneering family," he noted proudly, pointing out that his paternal grandfather came to Washington state in 1888, when it was still a territory.

And Barnett's father, the late Powell Barnett, was a respected Seattle civic leader and social activist. A recently renovated city park and playground on Martin Luther King Jr. Way, is named in his honor, in recognition of his service as the first president of the Leschi Improvement Council.

Barnett's own pioneering efforts included producing nearly 50 plays at Black Arts/West, the Central District company he co-founded in 1969.

"That was during the heyday of the African-American theater, which was from the 1960s to about 1975," said Barnett. "It was a great time, because we were finally producing plays from our own experience, our own history."

After moving on from Black Arts/West, Barnett had a variety of jobs. He worked for the Seattle Arts Commission, and at Rochester, N.Y.'s Geva Theatre. And he recalls the excitement of being company manager of a national tour by the most prominent black theater to emerge in the 1960s, the illustrious Negro Ensemble Theatre.

When Hill (an old Seattle friend and author of the previous work, Pages from the Harlem Renaissance) invited him to co-author the book, Barnett was eager to include in it an array of lesser-known figures, along with superstars like Poitier and Denzel Washington.

To purchase the book, please click the post's title.


AAPEX Interview: Gary Garrison

Gary Garrison

Gary Garrison is the Executive Director for Creative Affairs for the Dramatists Guild and founder of The Loop, a social networking group for playwrights.

What role did theater and the arts play in your childhood and upbringing?
Theatre saved my life. I was always a very different, hyper, wildly-imaginative, day-dreaming kinda kid. And when I found the theatre, I realized there were a lot of people like me, people who understood my fascination with things most people took no note of (like how and why people behaved). I found my “kind,” my real family. I was no longer the “outsider;” I was very much inside.

Tell us about your own evolution as an artist.
I started off as a dancer, actually, but lost my hair when I was 17, so it was clear that wasn’t going to work. Then I went into acting, studied that on the undergraduate college level, did the summer stock thing, applied to graduate school and got accepted. For some reason, when they asked me what I wanted my major to be, I said “directing.” Nobody was more surprised than me, but clearly I was tired of acting and thought directing was where my real artistry was to be found. (Let’s be honest: I didn’t really know what the hell I wanted.) I directed up a storm, kept acting, kept doing summer stock (because that paid for so many other things), got my Equity card and was eventually hired (for summer stock) into Michigan Ensemble Theatre – an Equity company that was aligned with The University of Michigan. When I finished my summer contract there they asked if I wanted to stay and be in the company full-time. There was one condition: I had to be enrolled in a degree program. Well, since I already had a Masters, the only thing left was a Ph.D. So badda-bing: I was in the Ph.D. program. You talk about a misfit. BUT, I had to work as a teaching assistant in the program and they connected me with the playwriting teacher, Milan Stitt. Two days into his class and I knew what I was really meant to be: a writer. That feeling hasn’t change in 30+ years.

What does your postition with The Dramatists Guild entail?
I’m the Executive Director for Creative Affairs; essentially I handle the care and feeding of playwrights; another department addresses all the business and legal aspects of a career. I supervise and help shape the magazine, The Dramatist, oversee the design of our website, create special programming for our members, help resolve the more emotional issues for our members (“I don’t trust my director . . .” or “I feel isolated as a writer in Ohio….”), regionalize the country to best address the needs of our members not in our tri-state area, study trends in writing and careers in theatre, report those trends to our members – things like that.

What are the requirements for becoming a member of the Guild?
Write a play, submit it with an application. It’s really that simple. You can get the application on line at .

What is THE LOOP and how does one subscribe?
The Loop is a very, very large online community of playwrights tied together in a social network that has 15 sub-groups of playwrights and hundred of submission opportunities posted. Each member gets his/her own profile page which they can upload scripts to, post a resume, news about their writing, a link to their own web page. It’s very cool. Go to to sign up.

In your opinion, what are the greatest challenges facing playwrights in the contemporary American theater?
To have our plays produced – pure and simple – because it’s only dramatic literature until our work lives on a stage. So we have to re-imagine our careers; we have to include self-production as a very real possibility. We have to think about co-productions, and playwrights’ collectives like 13P in New York, or, Playwrights 6 in Los Angeles. We have to take our careers in our own hands. Period.