Friday, January 28, 2011

Mary McCallum's FLY, GIRL! now thru 2/24 (Nashville)

Bessie Coleman

 “Fly, Girl!” - based on the life of Bessie Coleman
A Stage Play written by Mary McCallum, Directed by Barry Scott

The Next Level-Arts & Entertainment Mindset
 1008 Charlotte Ave, Nashville, TN 
(additional parking located next door at the Greyhound Bus Station lot)

Thursdays at 7:30pm January 20th, January 27th, February 3rd, February 10th, February 17th, February 24th

b.Scott Productions and SistaStyle Productions presents “Fly, Girl!”a fictional dramatization based on the life of Bessie Coleman (1892-1926), the first African American to become a licensed airplane pilot, and the first American of any race or gender to hold an international pilots license. The play follows Bessie from a little girl in Texas picking cotton to becoming “Queen Bess” Aviatrix.  “Fly, Girl!” explores the bravery, tenacity and sheer determine of Bessie Coleman. While Bessie strives to make her dreams of becoming an aviator come true, she also struggles with love and family issues as she and those close to her navigate being Black in Chicago in the 1920’s.  
“Fly, Girl!” is written by Mary McCallum, who has also penned “The 70% Club” (NY International Fringe Festival selection and winner of “Best Feature” at the International Black Film Festival of Nashville), “70% More” and “The ‘D’ Word”.  Ms. McCallum states, “I have always been fascinated by earlier aviators and Bessie’s story of bravery and sheer determination is a reminder that anything is possible if we work hard enough.”

“Fly, Girl!” is under the direction of Barry Scott, who is widely known for his successes as an actor, writer, producer, director, motivational speaker and voice over artist.

The  cast features: Molly Breen, Shawn Whitsell,  Mary McCallum, Tamiko Robinson, Rodrikus Springfield, Jene India, Jordynn Tucker, Isabella Jackson, Brandy Rogers, and Darius Willis

Tickets and more information can be found online by clicking the post's title.  
For questions/interviews regarding “Fly, Girl!” please contact Mary McCallum at 
615-476-6430 or via email at:

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

AAPEX Actors Showcase at The Players Club 4/4 (NYC)

AAPEX is preparing for our first NYC Actor's Showcase at The Players Club on Gramercy Park on Monday, April 4th.

The play, RAP, is by Alan Aymie of Los Angeles. 

Confirmed cast members:

James Brown-Orleans, who created the role of Kwame/Bling Bling in the first Los Angeles production of RAP and who is currently in the Broadway cast of THE LION KING.

Jimmy Gary, recognized as AAPEX Actor of the Year 2011 - whose television credits include LAW & ORDER, NURSE JACKIE and WHITE COLLAR.

Terrance Epps, who has been on board for our 2 NYC readings of Merrill Jones' award winning play MRS. STREETER.

Please save the date!

Jaz Dorsey
The African American Playwrights Exchange

Monday, January 24, 2011


Please click image to enlarge.

Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children’s theatre in the Washington, D.C. area, African Continuum Theatre, the only professional African American theatre company in Washington, D.C., and the Dance Institute of Washington present the world premiere of Mirandy and Brother Wind, based on the Caldecott Honor Book of the same title in celebration of Black History Month. Directed by Jennifer Nelson, written by Washington, D.C. native Patricia McKissack, and starring 3-time Helen Hayes Award Nominee Felicia Curry, Mirandy and Brother Wind marks the fourth production of Adventure Theatre’s 59th season. The new children’s musical also celebrates a series of firsts for Adventure Theatre including its first partnership with African Continuum Theatre and the first time the theatre has produced an African American show. Mirandy and Brother Wind runs at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD from January 24-February 13, 2011 and at the Atlas Performing Arts Center as part of the Intersections Festival: A New America Arts Festival, February 25-March 13, 2011. This show is an exciting addition to children’s musical theater, and is a unique celebration of Washington, DC’s artistic talent. For tickets to the press performance, January, 23, 2011 please R.S.V.P. to Amanda Russell by January 21, 2011.

For more information, please click here.

To visit the African Continuum Theatre website, please click the post's title.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Theorizing Black Theatre: Meet the Author Jan 30th

Please click image to enlarge.

Got Songs lying around? Let's put on a Musical!

by Jaz Dorsey

The Nashville Question

In 1999, I had a musical smack on Times Square - in the sadly departed Lamb's Theatre. I can't call it "Broadway" but I can't say it wasn't, either.

For me it was. For me, "Broadway" is a geographical thing. I did not know when I headed to New York that "Broadway" is determined by a contract, but it is.

In any case, that 1999 production of Bernice Lee's NELLIE, with my music and co-lyrics (can I say that?) fulfilled my "Broadway" ambition. With some divine intervention, I managed to tear myself away from Mecca and find myself in Music City USA.

Which brings us to the "Nashville Question."

The Nashville question is "What do we do with all of these songs?"

About this time last year, we started casting a new musical by Nashville songwriter Parrish Stanton called ONE KISS CAFE for a three week run at The Country Music Hall of Fame. This journey took me, personally, to an enchanted place called BOBBY'S IDLE HOUR on Music Row.

At Bobby's I met artists who have been knocking around "Music City USA" from as far back as the 60s. And I experienced an avalanche of astounding songs which never have and never would have ended up on the radio.

Now we have U-Tube, which is one place you can take your songs.

But we also have another place - we have the stage.

I was blessed to meet Parrish because Parrish was doing what I thought was the logical thing to do if you had a couple of hundred tunes sitting in a disc on a shelf or a notebook in a drawer. Parrish had decided to write a musical. But more about that later.

Parrish isn't the only songwriter in Nashville working on a musical. What about DOYLE AND DEBBIE? What about MOTHERHOOD? and there are more.

And thanks to Ted Swindley who, thanks to ALWAYS . . . PATSY CLINE has given us a prototype for a "Nashville" genre of songwriter musicals.

In fact, there may be more brilliant musicals here than our present venue crisis will allow us to handle. This is a situation which merits some kind of community discussion.

In my trip down the rabbit hole of 16th Avenue South, I also discovered that about 40% of the songwriters I met and talked to had some kind of background in theatre, either in the form of some kind of degree or significant performance experience- starting with Don Hillaker, who hosts the Thursday night songwriter rounds, where it's Altman meets Fellini. This is where you hear the songs of musicians who sessioned with Bob Dylan and toured with Three Dog Night.

These folks at Bobby's have been doing this for so long that they know, love and sing one anothers' hits - every now and then the entire bar becomes a production number. Someone just needs to go in there with a camera one night and we'd have a movie.

BOBBY'S is Johnny Cash meets Gertrude Stein. The kind of conversations you will have there about songwriting are the Nashville equivalent of the poets of Paris congregating in the cafes of the 1920s - it's the grass roots conversation of craft and struggle. By the time a song gets to us, it's a product, but at this level it's a primal thing. You can feel the dreams in a song being sung by the writer in search of someone else to sing it. But listening to the writers is something you can't replace with all the technology in the world.

Now back to musicals. I hear these songs which are full of plot, which evoke amazing characters and which saturate the audience with a journey and I'm thinking "Broadway" And right now I'm waiting for the next incarnation of ONE KISS CAFE.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

AAPEX at Vanderbilt: Our 3rd Black History Month Show

AAPEX is looking forward to our third Black History Month Show at The Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center on the campus of Vanderbilt University.

This year we will feature Oregon playwright Hershell Norwood with a tribute to Paul Robeson and Billie Holiday which will incorporate scenes from two of Hershell's plays - one of which - BILLIE'S BLUES - seems to be at some level of production in Portland, Oregon, thanks to the dedication of Mr.Charlie Rule.

The event will take place at 7 pm on Monday, February 21 at the Bishop Joseph Johnson Center.

We have an awesome talent line up, including Helen "Olaketi" Shute-Pettaway, Dr. Dara Talibah and Vilia Steele.



Set your VCR, DVR to record or TIVO
African American Short Films,
Watch Us Again or Watch US Later!!!!
Email us by clicking here so we can read your comments
and notify you when we are next on.

Ann Dandridge

This show contains 3 short films. Enjoy!!!

Right here you will see short films made by African Americans that range from comedy to drama and all the shades in-between that are entertaining and totally socially relevant. Please tell your friends and family to watch the airing of this show. In this episode you will see:

“Brother’s Incorporated” is a 1960’s Godfather style short film.
“The Fall” A young man chooses between taking care of his father and brother or himself.
“Jamaican Gypsy” A fortuneteller readies herself for a hot date
that has an ending she didn’t foretell.

SATURDAY, January 15, 2011
12:00 PM WAPT-TV ABC Jackson, MS
2:00 PM WITI-TV FOX Milwaukee, WI
2:00 PM WOLO-TV ABC Columbia, SC
6:00 PM WMMP-TV MYTV Charleston,SC

SUNDAY, January 16, 2011
10:30 AM WDSU-TV NBC New Orleans, LA
11:30 AM WDSU-TV NBC New York, NY
12:00 PM WWHO-TV CW Columbus, OH
12:00 PM WNDY-TV MYTV Indianapolis, IN
1:00 PM WWAY-TV NBC Wilmington, NC
1:00 PM WAGT-TV NBC Augusta, GA
2:00 PM WRDC-TV MYTV Ralih-DurhmFaytvlleNC

Jimmy Gary: AAPEX's Actor of the Year

AAPEX is pleased to recognize Mr. Jimmy Gary as our Actor of the Year 2011.
Check out Jimmy's interview with Yayoi Winfrey and Robert Taylor on their new radio show SEXY VOICES OF HOLLYWOOD.

Here's Episode 7, in 2 parts, with actor and former NFL player, Jimmy
Gary, Jr. Ladies and gentleman, let's give him a hand! And, thank you,
Jaz Dorsey of AAPEX for the hook-up.

Please click the post's title to got to Sexy Voices of Hollywood.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Fire This Time Festival starts Jan 17th (NYC)

Please click image to enlarge.

I’m writing to invite you to this season of THE FIRE THIS TIME FESTIVAL, which supports talented playwrights of African descent and pursues challenging new directions for 21st century theater.

This season begins January 17th with a free panel discussion, followed by two weeks of short play performances and staged readings. All events will be held at Horse Trade Theater Group’s Red Room (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Ave and Bowery, NYC). I was fortunate enough to be a featured playwright in the inaugural season of the Festival in 2010 and have returned as an executive producer this year.

I count myself lucky to be among such a talented and resourceful community of theater artists and hope you will be able to join us for one of our events. More information please click the post's title.

Best Regards,

Derek McPhatter

The Fire This Time Festival is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions in behalf of The Fire This Time Festival may be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Monday, January 10, 2011

AAPEX: Our Lady in London- Prav Menon-Johansson

John ADEkoje

Fresh on the tail of our successful London reading of Michael Bradford's OLIVES AND BLOOD, Prav Menon-Johansson is directing yet another London production of an award-winning African American playwright. John ADEkoje's SIX ROUNDS will be staged May 3-29th at the Hot Tap Theatre. This "tragic-comic hip hop concerto" weaves an unconventional tale of Ace, a black youth who makes tough decisions about life, love and guns in the reality of the streets. To learn more, please click the post's title.

Our thanks to Prav for giving AAPEX an international presence!

Jaz Dorsey
Director of Education
The African American Playwrights Exchange
Nashville, TN

Friday, January 7, 2011

AAPEX Review: Nashville's CIRCLE PLAYERS' "A Raisin In The Sun"

Review by Jaz Dorsey

"In my mother's house there is still God"

A RAISIN IN THE SUN is a drama of the most intense kind. It's almost impossible to disconnect this play from it's historical significance as a groundbreaking work of African American dramatic literature, but the current Circle Players production which opens tomorrow night at the Larry Keeton theatre hits a universal nerve - to what degree does money define who we are?

This is the question that hurls the struggling Younger family into turmoil as they await the arrival of a $10,000.00 insurance check following the death the husband of Lena Younger and the father of her two children, Walter and Beneatha. What at first seems like a blessing and an answer to their dreams quickly becomes a demon that threatens to tear the family apart. Family conflicts are fueled even further when Lena uses a portion of the money to buy a home in a white neighborhood, only to receive a visit from the neighborhood "welcoming committee" in the person of a Mr. Lindner, who offers to buy the Youngers out because the good folks of Clybourne Park don't want "coloreds" moving in to their community.

Playwright Lorraine Hansberry drew from her own family's legal battles which followed an attempt to evict them from their home in an all white neighborhood. According to a pamphlet entitled "The Real Life Roots of A RAISIN IN THE SUN" provided by The Tennessee Fair Housing Council "The covenant in the Woodlawn neighborhood where the Hansberrys wanted to live stated that 'no part of said premises shall in any manner be occupied by a negro or negroes.' There were exceptions for African American employees of white homeowners to live in servants quarters, basements, barns and garages on the premises." The United States Supreme Court eventually decided in the Younger's favor in 1940, but the years that it took clearly impacted Lorraine Hansberry's perception of what it meant to be an American in the context of a racist America. At this level, RAISIN is an outcry of historical urgency which still echoes loudly today.

But it's not really the housing issue that drives A RAISIN IN THE SUN - it's the money. The blood money. As Beneatha's African suitor Asagai comments; "Isn't there something wrong in a world where all dreams depend on the death of a man?'

At three acts & three hours, RAISIN is an epic undertaking for the actors, who are challenged to portray levels of personal agony that baffle the mind. At the same time, the pain is balanced by insights, observations and wise cracks so funny that you wonder from time to time if this isn't a comedy.

As Lena, Dara Talibah is "mother" - sincere and loving, patient and confused, but with wells of dignity that she must tap in order to absorb her childrens' conflicts. Talibah finds all of Lena's shades and levels and there are moments watching her face as she processes the relentless barrage of assaults, seeking to maintain just her sanity, that are the epitome of acting.

As Walter, Michael "Diallo" McLendon has the most grueling journey, as he seeks to find and define himself as the man of the family.When Walter rails against being someone else's servant, Lena tells him "In my day we was nervous about not getting lynched and getting to the North." But Walter can't hear that and comes so close to becoming the villain of the play - but when he does, Lena turns to his sister and explains that this is when you have to love someone - not when they're good and it's easy. McClendon navigates this perilous role with a brute energy in which the testosterone is almost palpable.

As Walter's wife, Ruth, LaToya Gardner has an equally emotional but far more poignant impact, as, newly pregnant, she wonders whether or not to bring another child in to this dangerous world. Her torment is heart wrenching. On the other hand, Gardner has great comic moments. When she is on the phone with Walter's employer's wife, with just a few lines she lets us hear that "white lady" on the other end of the phone, and you just know who that white lady is.

Everyone in the play is caught in a clash of cultures, but this is most clearly seen in Beneatha and her two suitors, the well to do, arrogant American, George, and the rather mystical Nigerian, Asagai, who courts Beneatha with Africa. Beneatha is played with great spirit by Shelena Walden, who gives us a child-to-be of the next decade, the 60s. She's a constant source of wit - as when she refers to her brother as being "bourgeois noir." As George, Max Desire is disturbingly daper, while Eliot Robinson's Asagai is celestial and serene (though still something of a male chauvinist).

Courtenay McClellan plays the rather bizarre neighbor, Mrs. Johnson, with such comedic ferocity that she all but got a standing ovation when she left the scene, and Tobyus Green is equally (but appropriately) strange as Walter's unfortunate business partner in his brief but unsettling moment of shattered manhood. Jim Manning is a creepy and curiously obsequious Mr. Lindner and young Eric William II does a solid job as Walter and Ruth's son, Travis.

Clay Hillwig has directed a production that lives and breathes in every corner of Ralph Gabriel's excellent set - an apartment so cozy that I actually wouldn't mind moving in when the Youngers move out ( I like that little kitchen!), Melody Fowler-Green' s costumes are ace and all the technical elements were in perfect order, even at dress rehearsal, thanks to the technical team of Brian Levay and J R Smallwood. And there is some great incidental music, including one of my favorite tunes, "Lucky So and So."

Kudos to producer LaTonya Turner and the stage manager (no one ever mentions the stage manager) Nicole Billups: these ladies have clearly done their jobs, because everything went off without a hitch. And this was just dress rehearsal.

For complete information on the production and the run, please click the post's title. Be sure and check out the awesome trailer - makes you think "look out for the movie, coming soon to a u tube near you."

But don't wait for that - Come to Nashville and go to the Theatre. The play runs from January 7th to the 23rd.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

DC Black Theatre Fest now taking submissions!

The 2011 DC Black Theatre Festival
Open Call for: One-Acts, New Works, Workshops & Full-Length

Submission Categories:
• Full-Length Plays
• One-Act Plays
• New Works Reading Series
• Workshops

The DC Drama Department is proud to announce the 2011 DC Black Theatre Festival, a week-long festival celebrating the thriving theatre community in Washington DC, June 12-19, 2011.

We are looking for works in any genre, including plays which incorporate movement, dance, and music. Playwrights of all skill levels are encouraged to submit. All chosen Full-length Plays, New Works Reading Series and Workshop are supported by the festival with 100% of the ticket sales going directly to the performing group, facilitator and/or playwright. A cash award and trophy are given to the winners of the One-Act plays.

The DC Black Theatre Festival holds fast in its commitment to provide a balance of works with high artistic integrity for both emerging and veteran artists. Our mission is to create a diverse group of outstanding artist with a distinctive vision that will give an artistic identity of uncommon richness and variety to all people. So whether you enjoy the works of August Wilson, Tyler Perry or a good old Gospel Stage Play, the DC Black Theatre Festival has something for you.

One Act Plays: Running time MUST NOT exceed 20 minutes in length, and run AT LEAST 10 minutes.
• Full-length Plays: Running time MUST NOT exceed 90 minutes in length, and run AT LEAST 60 minutes.
• New Works Reading Series: Running time MUST NOT exceed 90 minutes in length, and run AT LEAST 10 minutes.
• Workshops: Running time MUST NOT exceed 80 minutes in length.

Please submit the following:
1. The playwright's bio and contact information. Title page must include name, address, phone number and e-mail address.
2. A short synopsis of the play and/or workshop.
3. A complete script with numbered pages and a title page.
4. There is a $25 submission fee for both Full-Length plays and the New Works Reading Series.
5. There is a $15 submission fee for One Acts plays.
6. There is no cost to submit a Workshop idea. If selected there is a small participatory fee, but you keep 100% of all registration fees.
Please submit your application online at

Any questions, please contact the DCBTF Staff at
Deadline for all submissions are Tuesday, March 1, 2011