New York Theatre Scene Gears Up to Celebrate Black History Month
FEBRUARY 1 TO 18 (JUST ADDED)
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
Andrea J. Fulton has penned a family drama with music that brings to life the politics of a young mixed-race man's "passing" for white in post-Civil War Louisiana, inspired by her actual family history. The ten-character play illustrates the risks taken by those not afraid to love despite bigotry, telling of a family torn apart by racism but ultimately reunited. It elucidates for the audience the stakes of pursuing love across lines of race and class during Reconstruction. The piece debuted in Theater for the New City's Dream Up Festival in 2010. This revival is directed by Sabura Rashid.
COMPLLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/one_drop.htm
FEBRUARY 8 TO MARCH 11
NEW FEDERAL THEATRE PRESENTS "HARRIET'S RETURN"
CASTILLO THEATRE, 543 WEST 42ND STREET
At a time when the USA is waffling on its commitment to honor Harriet Tubman with her image on the 20 dollar bill, Woodie King, Jr.'s New Federal Theatre will present "Harriet's Return: Based Upon the Legendary Life of Harriet Tubman," written and performed by Karen Jones Meadows. The production takes audiences on a deeply personal, high energy journey into the private and public life of this famed Underground Railroad conductor, spiritual icon, revolutionary, and entrepreneur, whose life spanned nine decades and still influences the consciousness of people throughout the world. Clinton Turner Davis directs.
COMPLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/Harriet.htm
FEBRUARY 8 TO 25
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
"JOSH: THE BLACK BABE RUTH"
"Josh: The Black Babe Ruth," written by Michael A. Jones and directed by Bette Howard, dramatizes the life, loves and ultimately the tragic decline of Josh Gibson, who was perhaps the greatest slugger of the Negro leagues and who, some say, died of a broken heart in 1947. The play, based on real events, shows Gibson struggling heroically to make it into the Big Leagues with emotional support from his good friend, the legendary pitcher Satchel Paige, and from the two women who are rivals for his heart--his common law wife and his mistress. Despite his majestic on-field performance, there are immovable obstacles, including resistance to Black players by Major League club owners and Gibson's own personal demons, which suffocate his chances.
COMPLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/josh.htm
FEBRUARY 15 TO MARCH 4 (NOTE: REVISED DATES)
GENE FRANKEL THEATRE, 24 BOND STREET
NEGRO ENSEMBLE COMPANY IN "A SOLDIER'S PLAY"
Last fall, as part of its 50th season, Negro Ensemble Company, Inc.(NEC) revived its most famous and successful production, "A Soldier's Play" by Charles Fuller, at Theatre 80 St. Marks. To share this much-praised revival with a wider audience, the company will re-mount it for Black History Month at Gene Frankel Theatre, 24 Bond Street. Director is NEC's Artistic Director, Charles Weldon, who staged the much-lauded revival.
The play uses a murder mystery in a segregated U.S. Army base during World War II to expose angers and resentments among African Americans that curiously mimic white racist attitudes. The original production ran for two years at Theatre Four, earned unanimous praise and launched the careers of many current stars including Denzel Washington, Samuel L. Jackson, Adolph Caesar and James Pickens, Jr. It won the Pulitzer Prize, an Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off-Broadway Play, a New York Drama Critics' Circle Award for Best American Play and three Obie Awards before being brought to the big screen as "A Soldier's Story." This fall's production was deemed "gripping and powerfully performed" (TheaterScene.net), "masterful and stimulating play...the actors are incredible" (Times Square Chronicle) and "we need 'A Soldier's Play' [today] more than ever." (NY Theatre Wire)
COMPLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/soldiers_play2.htm
FEBRUARY 16 TO MARCH 4 (PLEASE NOTE VENUE CHANGE.)
NORTH OF HISTORY, 445 COLUMBUS AVE (81-82 STREET)
"HAVING OUR SAY" BY EMILY MANN, ADAPTED FROM THE BOOK BY SARAH L. DELANEY AND A. ELIZABETH DELANEY
The Morningside Players will present "Having Our Say: The Delaney Sisters' First 100 Years" by Emily Mann, adapted from the book by Sarah H. Delaney and A. Elizabeth Delaney. It will be the inaugural theater production at North of History, a new performance/gallery space founded by Gene Kaufman that is located at 445 Columbus Ave. (between 81st and 82nd Street). Edgar Chisholm directs.
The play is a tour-de-force for two black actresses. We enter the home of two centenarian sisters: Sadie Delaney, a retired teacher, age 103 and her kid sister, Bessie Delaney, a retired dentist, age 101. Like molasses and vinegar, these daughters of a former slave were always temperamental opposites, but together they grew up in the Jim Crow South, lived in Harlem during its renaissance and had professional careers. While making dinner to remember their father's birthday, the two sisters tell us of the last century as they lived it - through stories of racial injustice and personal strife, unified by faith, family, and time. With Carol Carter and Edythe Jason.
This show was originally set for presentation at Morningside Players, 100 La Salle Street, Manhattan. Due to renovations in that space, the production has been moved to North of History, a new gallery/performance venue located at 445 Columbus Ave. (between 81st and 82nd Street).
COMPLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/having_our_say.htm
FEBRUARY 22 TO MARCH 18
THEATER FOR THE NEW CITY
"SUBWAY STORY (A SHOOTING)"
A troubled, abused African-American high school student named Chevonn combs the subways, seeking to obtain a gun in order to shoot her abusive mother. Her quest is narrated in a fantastical mashup of literary images that are part Lewis Carroll and part queasy reality and reveal issues affecting inner city children including alienation, discrimination, bullying and the easy availability of firearms. Chevonn's tale strongly illuminates the hopelessness that many inner city kids face and how this can make them lash out with guns or turn them on themselves. Post-play discussions will deal with issues like: how do we get our kids not to use guns to resolve conflicts? We are prompted to ask ourselves: are we desensitized or numb to the pressures our children endure, like people who stand passively by while tragedies incubate in plain sight around them?
"Subway Story (A Shooting) will be the fifth play in the GUNPLAYS series written and directed by William Electric Black. The entire series has been presented by Theater for the New City. In 2014, Black launched the series with "Welcome Home Sonny T," a drama that spotlighted two significant forces driving the current epidemic of gun violence: the social impact of alienation and unemployment on young black males and the declining influence of black ministers as a force of stability in affected neighborhoods. The second play in the series, "When Black Boys Die" (2015), premiered in 2015. The third, presented for 2016 Gun Awareness Month, was "Death of a Black Man (A Walk By)," a play with hip hop verse, chanting, songs and poetry. The fourth play, "The Faculty Room" (2017), was a drama set in a high school that is in a hard lockdown because an argument between two students has escalated to armed conflict because of the prevalence of guns in the school. "Subway Story (A Shooting)" will combine music, poetry, dialogue, movement, and immersive theater to be the most unique staging of all five plays in the series.
MORE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/subway_story.htm
EXTENDED THROUGH JUNE 16, 2018
HARLEM REPERTORY THEATRE
TATO LAVIERA THEATRE, 240 E. 123RD STREET
"THE WIZARD OF OZ: A JAZZ MUSICAL FOR ALL AGES"
Imagine "The Wizard of Oz" with a mostly Black cast and a jazzified score. That's what you get with Harlem Repertory Theatre's "The Wizard of Oz: a Jazz Musical for All Ages," which is co-produced by the Yip Harburg Foundation. The classic musical is reinterpreted through authoritative dramaturgy by Deena Harburg, President of the Yip Harburg Foundation, and directed by Keith Lee Grant, Artistic Director of Harlem Rep.
Dorothy, played by Taylor-Rey Rivera, is interpreted as a modern girl and future leader who is growing to realize the confidence she possesses. Her three Land-of-Oz friends--the Scarecrow, Tin Man and Cowardly Lion--are pictured as people of great potential who only need to actualize the heart, brains and courage they already have. Lyricist Yip Harburg envisioned Dorothy as finally going home a leader. In this production, she comes home to lead the rebuilding of her family's farm. All the "refocusing" is accomplished through the acting of the characters, without changing the iconic dialogue of the script.
The production will not close January 13, as announced earlier. It has been extended through June 16, 2018 due to continuing and steady audience interest.
COMPLETE INFO: www.jsnyc.com/season/oz.htm