Black Ensemble Theatre to Present BPI Black Playwright's Festival, 4/8-13

Black Ensemble Theatre to Present BPI Black Playwright's Festival, 4/8-13

Black Ensemble Theater (BE) announces its 9th annual Black Playwright's Festival, April 8-13, 2014, as part of the company's Black Playwright's Initiative (BPI). The Festival will take place at the Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center, 4450 N. Clark Street. This fun and daring Black Playwrights Festival brings new scripts to the BE stage for innovative and engaging readings. These scripts have all been developed by BPI members through the BPI process.

The 2012 BPI Black Playwright's Festival opens on April 8, 2014, with an Opening Party and Tribute to BPI Playwright Leonard Ferris. Leonard started writing as a second career in his early sixties. He has been a member of the BPI for four years. Leonard is a prolific playwright having written six scripts since joining the BPI and having all six produced in the Black Playwrights Festivals for the past four years. The Festival includes full-length plays by Leonard Ferris, M. Shelly Conner, Wendell Etherly, Ervin Gardner and Daryl Brooks. The Festival will culminate with an evening of Shorty's (10 minutes plays) on Sunday, April 13, written by BPI members Loy Webb, Cory Wright, Ervin Gardner and Reginald Williams.

"Black Ensemble Theater is committed to identifying and developing new playwrights. Since the BPI started nine years ago, many members have had their plays professionally produced at Black Ensemble Theater, throughout Chicago and across the nation," says Jackie Taylor. "We invite the community to experience new readings by our playwrights in a series of entertaining evenings, and it is our mission to usher these talented Black artists into the local and national spotlight."

The BPI develops and strengthens the playwriting skills of novice and experienced playwrights. It is the purpose of the BPI to develop potential writers for the Black Ensemble Theater and also expose the playwrights to local and national theater companies who may be interested in their work. It is also the purpose of the BPI to provide opportunities, resources and exposure to the Black playwriting community; and to ensure future productions for the Black Ensemble Theater.

Black Ensemble Theater produces approximately 15 BPI readings of new scripts per year through the annual Sex in the Summer Play Series, and the annual Black Playwright's Festival.

April 8, 2014 at 7:30pm

Opening Ceremonies Honoring BPI Playwright Leonard Ferris

Price of Corn

Rosa Bocanegra is forced to fight a battle that just keeps repeating itself in this tense drama.

Written by Leonard Ferris

Directed by Daryl Brooks

April 9, 2014 at 7:30pm

Broken Fences

Good fences make good neighbors, but Chicago apartment dwellers don't have that luxury in this offbeat farce that examines relationships in close quarters.

Written by M. Shelly Conner

Directed by Daryl Brooks

April 10, 2014 at 7:30pm

The Inheritance

The Inheritance is a story about a mother who is forced to deal with her past when her son seeks out the true identity of his father.

Written by Wendell Etherly

Directed by Daryl Brooks

April 11, 2014 at 7:30pm

The Trial of Moses "Fleetwood" Walker

Most people think Jackie Robinson was the first Black professional baseball player. He was not.

The first African American professional baseball player was Moses Fleetwood Walker. This story takes place in 1894 when Moses was on trial accused of killing a white man.

Written by Ervin Gardner

Directed by Daryl Brooks

April 12, 2014, 7:30pm

"Use Me": The Story of Bill Withers

"Lean on Me,' "Ain't No Sunshine," "Grandma's Hands" are just a few of the songs that this Grammy winning songwriter has produced. "Use Me" takes a look inside the life of a musical genius that wouldn't give up or sell-out.

Written and Directed by Daryl Brooks

April 13, 2014 at 3:00 pm: Closing Ceremonies

The Shorty's (Short 10-minute plays written by members of the Black Playwright's Initiative)

Loy Webb - Drive To Mississippi

Reginald Williams - Revelation

Ervin Gardner - Confusion

Cory Wright - 20 Minutes to Destiny

Directed by Lyle Miller

Tickets are $15 per evening or $50 for the entire Festival. Tickets are available at the box office, online at or by phone, (773) 769-4451. The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center is located at 4450 N. Clark Street. Valet parking is available.

The Black Ensemble Theater: Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space; rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage. The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), is starting construction in 2014.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts. For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visit or call 773-769-4451.

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