Oversoul Theatre Collective Returns To The Cape Cod Scene
Oversoul Theatre Collective is celebrating it's 25th year as a theater company by becoming active in the local theater scene after seven year hiatus from production. Formed in Mashpee by a small group of native (Wampanoag, Nipmuc, Mohawk, and Siponi) and Black actors, with the motto "Life's A Stage, Arts for All!", the company went on to introduce Mashpee's first youth theater workshop as well as monthly coffeehouse presentations of theater, comedy and music, and full productions of plays.
It was February of 1994 when a small group of Cape Cod based actors and performers of color -calling themselves the Oversoul Theatre- staged a production of short plays and sketches by African American Playwrights at Richard's Gallery in Hyannis, in honor of Black History Month. In December of that same year, under the auspices of the Hyannis Theatre Company, the group staged a production of "The Colored Museum" by George Wolf. Several of the original members of the company had been part of New African Company in Boston, New England's oldest, continuous professional Black theater company, founded in 1968. "We needed some of that same energy and ideology out here on the cape," reflects OTC co-founder and long-time artistic director, Mwalim (Morgan James Peters). In 1995, Oversoul Theatre Collective, Inc. received it's own non-profit status and started an after-school youth theater workshop at the Mashpee Middle School, staging a production of the folk-tale "Skunny Wundy" at the Mashpee Town Hall.
Oversoul Theatre Collective was Cape Cod's fully organized theater company where the leadership and members were primarily people of color, which led to some interesting and spirited responses from the theater community. In 1996 their program expanded with a youth workshop opening in New Bedford with productions taking place at various community spaces. In 2000, Mwalim was summoned to New York City to participate in the Lincoln Center Theatre's Director's Lab and from there offered residency after residency at theater companies and programs around New York City including the Harlem Theatre Company, Live From The Edge Theater in the Bronx, Afrikan Poetry Theatre in Queens, and the Nuyorican Poet's Cafe in the Manhattan, keeping him active in the city as a director and playwright for three years. OTC's board of directors voted to allow the company to function in New York City, establishing the Urban Expressionist's Lab as a theater workshop for community people who wished to enter theater as a profession. Peters moved back to Massachusetts in 2003 to teach at UMass Dartmouth and the lab continued in New York City until 2009 and in New Bedford until 2012.
Operating under the auspices of Song Keepers, LTD, Oversoul Theatre Collective will resume it's work in theater and media production starting with this summer in Provincetown where they are launching the cabaret musical "The Soul Session" on Saturday nights in Focsicle (located below the Governor Bradford) as well as the touring show "Explanation" which will be making the library circuit starting in the fall. OTC will be issuing casting notices soon, seeking improv comedy community actors for "The Soul Sessions"
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