Red Mountain Theatre Company Launches Its Inaugural Human Rights New Works Festival

In this time when exclusion and divisiveness are so prevalent, there is perhaps nothing more vital to our community than live theatre. Inclusiveness is intrinsic, with people of all ages, races, and socio-economic backgrounds, who might not otherwise cross paths, joining together in the experience. As they witness the stories of characters, perhaps dissimilar from themselves, they are transformed, building natural empathy in a powerful way.

This empathy and understanding of another's point of view is perhaps now more important than ever in our nation - and especially in Birmingham, a city marked by a fractured and violent past. However, it's from that pain that the inspiration for a Human Rights New Works Festival was born - a festival that would serve a catalyst for healing and hope in a future of equitable treatment of all.

Over the years, RMTC has been committed to commissioning and/or developing new plays each season around issues of human rights and inviting audiences to dialogue about the work.

Among the plays RMTC has produced or commissioned:

  • Barnstormer - centered around the first African American female aviatrix, Bessie Coleman
  • The MLK Project - produced in coordination with the city-wide commemoration of the 50th Anniversary of the Civil Rights Movement
  • Mandela - celebration of the life and sacrifice of the great humanitarian icon
  • Fannie Lou Hamer: This Little Light - portrayal of an impactful matriarch of voting rights activism
  • The Green Book - work of historical fiction exploring the Jim Crow-era guide to African American travel in the South

These pieces, produced in strong collaborative partnership with the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, have explored the challenging concepts of reconciliation and forgiveness in a city marked by a violence and hatred. It is out of that history that we begin the inaugural Human Rights New Works Festival. This year's March 15-18th festival includes one fully produced new work, Alabama Story and four readings, The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, Everything that's Beautiful, Mother Emanuel, and Sam's Room.

The Festival opens with RMTC's full production of the Alabama premiere of Alabama Story, in conjunction with the state's bicentennial celebrations. This new work by Kenneth Jones is a fact-based tale of a fearless librarian who fought against censorship of a controversial children's book.

Because of the uniqueness of our readings and the collaboration we have with our community partners, each reading will be rehearsed in venues that align with their subject matter. The Ballad of Klook and Vinette, a story about a drifter and his new-found love, will rehearse at YWCA, an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all. Everything That's Beautiful, a piece about a young family trying to come to grips with a son who lives his life as a daughter, will hold its rehearsals at Birmingham Aids Outreach, whose mission is to enhance the quality of life of HIV/AIDS, at-risk, affected individuals, and the LGBTQ community. Mother Emanuel, the powerful story about nine courageous warriors who lost their lives at the hands of a domestic terrorist will rehearse at the historic 16th Street Baptist Church. Lastly, Sam's Room, a pop rock concert dramedy about a nonverbal special needs teenager trying to find a way to communicate, will rehearse at The Exceptional Foundation, a Birmingham-based organization that serves mentally and physically challenged individuals.

The Festival Readings begin March 16th with a panel discussion, open to the public, which features the creative team of each new work. Following each reading, panels of experts will lead audiences in constructive dialogue around what they have experienced. The discussions, made "safer" through a focus on what was on stage, will yield rich and powerful conversation that RMTC believes will truly transform the landscape of our community.

Festival leadership include: Keith Cromwell, (RMTC executive director), Matt Schicker (Festival Director), Tony Award-Winner, Billy Porter (Artistic Adviser)

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Red Mountain Theatre Company is an organization that inspires audiences through powerful theatre experiences led by professionals who deliver engaging performances produced and presented with artistic integrity.

In addition to our theatre productions, we offer educational programs that build positive life skills for young people and provide growth opportunities for theatre professionals. Our Birmingham- based nonprofit organization has been inspiring audiences, changing lives and creating conversations through theatre experiences since 1979.


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