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BLACK LIVES, BLACK WORDS Virtual Theater Continues Throughout Autumn

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Virtual Play Series comes to an end With “Call for the Wailing Women” and “The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale”

BLACK LIVES, BLACK WORDS Virtual Theater Continues Throughout Autumn

Black Lives, Black Words, an international initiative that provides local black creatives with an artistic platform, is bringing its poignant and affecting "Plays for the People" virtual series to a close with two more plays in October and November.

From October 22-25, Valerie Curtis-Newton directs the virtual world premiere of "Call for the Wailing Women," a modern-day Afro-Centric take on ancient Greek playwright Euripides' "The Suppliants." The world premiere of Wole Oguntokun's "The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale" will be live streamed from November 19-22.

Based in Chicago, Black Lives Black Words International Project is led by Founder and Managing Curating Producer Reginald Edmund and Co-founder, Executive Producer and Creative Director Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway, who has been listed for three consecutive years in the Stage Top 100 Power List. The two are married, and work together on nearly every project at BLBW.

"Call for the Wailing Women" takes the ancient Greek tragedy of two mothers fighting for their sons' honor and gives it a modern, Afro-Centric spin. Much like Euripides' tale, the story revolves around two mothers, Mary (Allyson Brown) and Sandy (Bianca LaVerne Jones), who meet and must fight for their sons in different ways and for different reasons. They both need to win, but winning may not even be possible. The play was written by actor, writer, producer, director and native Chicagoan Katrina D. RiChard and will be accompanied by a soundscape from sound designer Gabriel Causon, all under the direction of Valerie Curtis-Newton.

"The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale" follows the true story of David Oluwale, a Nigerian who stowed away on a ship bound to the UK from Lagos when he was only 19 years old. He earned himself the nickname "Yankee" due to his love of all things American. Over 50 years after the tragic death of Oluwale, his story still resonates with Black audiences from around the world to this day. The play was written by Nigerian playwright and stage and film director Wole Oguntokun and will be directed by acclaimed actor and stage director Harry Waters Jr.

"Amidst the grieve, despair, and ongoing trauma in our communities, we are blessed to have artists who are able to speak on our behalf provide comfort to communities through art," said BLBW International Project Co-Founder and Executive Producer Simeilia Hodge-Dallaway. "During these challenging times, we recognize the power and importance of our BLBW artists to articulate our pain, frustration, anguish, and even, our need for escapism and laughter to get through the emotional heaviness and heartbreak of our circumstances. At BLBW, we recognize our role as a catalyst for change as we continue to provide a platform for our artists to speak when we simply do not have the words, to lean on when we are weary, and to call for action at times of distress."

Black Lives, Black Words is an international initiative that provides local creatives with an artistic platform across various art forms to respond to social injustices that impact on underrepresented communities, in particular- people of color and women.

BLBW uniquely merges arts and activism to empower artists of color and women to view themselves as leaders, global citizens and ambassadors for change. By working in partnership with leading theatres, culturally diverse organizations and academia, BLBW has provided opportunities to artists and leaders from a wide range of ages, ethnicities, experiences and socio-economic backgrounds.

Since its conception in 2015, our work has spread both nationally and internationally through forging strong relationships with organizations, such as; The Guthrie (Minneapolis), Buddies in Bad Times (Canada), Obsidian Theatre (Canada), Victory Gardens (Chicago), Bush Theatre (London), Black Ensemble (Chicago), as well as academia, including; Rose Bruford (London), Northwestern University (Chicago) and Western Michigan (Kalamazoo).

Black Lives, Black Words International Project premiered at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago in 2015 and was heralded as "It's a hopeful performance that comes from a place of love and optimism" by The Resident Magazine (UK).

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