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Horizon Theatre Company Announces Black Women Speak

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BWS is a groundbreaking initiative to create works of and by Black women and for all, inspired by conversations with real Black women of Georgia. 

Horizon Theatre Company announces the launch of the nationally recognized New Georgia Woman Project: Black Women Speak (BWS) program to develop plays that will amplify the voices of African-American women. BWS is a groundbreaking initiative to create works of and by Black women and for all, inspired by conversations with real Black women of Georgia. Horizon through Black Women Speak has commissioned a cohort of nine Black female playwrights to create new plays to bring to the stage the stories, lives, and concerns of Black women. Black Women Speak is the recipient of the National New Play Network (NNPN) inaugural Bridge Program funding was awarded to only 18 theaters in the US and an innovation grant from the National Alliance for Musical Theatre.

One year after America's latest period of social reckoning, the BWS initiative seeks to explore the question: What are Black women thinking, feeling, and doing now?

Led by Horizon's Associate Artistic Producer Marguerite Hannah, Horizon's BWS team has gathered to date over 150 Black women in and from the Atlanta metro area and across the south to join Horizon for a series of small group conversations or Coffee Chats. Conducted via Zoom, Coffee Chats have brought together Black women to meet, share life stories, engage, and grow in community with one another. They include women from various backgrounds, including career professionals and business owners, physicians, educators, community activists, stay-at mothers, and retirees. In turn, these chats are inspiring nine playwrights to create new scripts featuring dynamic Black female characters to expand the canon of work by Black women writers. Through this project, Horizon aims to seed plays that will be produced on our stage over the next five years, beginning in 2023.

Though these plays will be based on the thoughts and feelings of Black women in Atlanta and across Georgia, the goal is to create works that resonate with Black women nationwide and with audiences of all genders and races. These powerful stories will be developed by and grounded in the cultures of Black women. This increased canon of work by female playwrights of color will positively impact audiences, the American theatre, and the world by expanding the narrative of Black voices. We will also provide artistic opportunities for BIPOC actors and creative teams as these scripts continue to develop into full productions.

The BWS Playwright Artists Cohort of four playwrights developing plays for Black Women Speak includes: Candrice Jones, AriDy Nox, A'ndrea J. Wilson, and Shay Youngblood. The BWS Emerging Playwrights Collective of five playwrights include Tramaine Brathwaite, Amina McIntyre, Chiwuzo Ife Okwumabua, Kelundra Smith, Dana Stringer (biographies for each playwright are listed below).

The power of the BWS project is best exemplified by the words of Associate Artistic Producer Marguerite Hannah: The past, present, and future of Black America cannot be told without referencing Atlanta and its people. We have political power, culture, wealth, higher education, and a proud history as the cradle of the Civil Rights Movement. The cultural upheaval of 2020 has stirred many powerful images of Black women and their impact on the landscape of America. We must not miss the opportunity to use our art to give voice to these times.

Horizon Co-Artistic/Producing Director, Lisa Adler shares: Our goal through this project is to develop new relationships with artists and audiences who will have an ongoing, long-term connection with Horizon and the BWS project. We hope and believe that these relationships will also generate new connections for Horizon Theatre, helping to create a more diverse and equitable organization on all levels.

Horizon has invited Black women from across Georgia to participate in our Coffee Chats, beginning with our audiences and branching out from there. We are honored to partner with the City of Alpharetta and Alpharetta Arts Center to reach audiences in the North Fulton area for Coffee Chats and with upcoming readings.

Readings of excerpts from the works in development for Black Women Speak will be held virtually and in person at the Alpharetta Arts Center October 29-30, 2021, and at Horizon November 5-7, 2021. More details and reservation/watch information will be announced in October. Development and public readings of the BWS full-length plays will begin in 2022, and production of selected BWS plays will begin as part of Horizon's 39th season in 2023.

Anyone nationwide interested in the project is encouraged to sign up to receive updates by filling out the first page of our BWS survey. Black women of Georgia can fill out as much of the survey as they like and request to join us for a Coffee Chat: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/bwsparticipants

Or visit the Black Women Speak page on the Horizon Theatre website for more information and regular updates: https://www.horizontheatre.com/black-women-speak/


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