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Black Lives, Black Words Theatre Company to Present Two More Virtual Plays In October And November

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Virtual series to a close with the last two plays to be livestreamed via Zoom

Black Lives, Black Words Theatre Company to Present Two More Virtual Plays In October And November

Black Lives, Black Words, a Chicago-based activist theater company that provides local black creatives with an artistic platform, is bringing its poignant and powerful "Plays for the People" virtual series to a close with the last two plays to be livestreamed via Zoom in October and November.

Upcoming virtual productions include the world premiere of "Call for the Wailing Women," a modern-day, Afro-Centric take on famed ancient Greek playwright Euripides' production of "The Suppliants," written by South Side native Katrina D. RiChard and to be livestreamed Oct. 22-25. The world premiere of "The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale," directed by acclaimed Nigerian director Wole Oguntokun, about the true story of David Oluwale's struggles with police brutality in the early 1900's will also be performed from November 19-22. Both plays, performed as "two-handers," will be livestreamed from the actors' staged homes and performed by talented Chicago-based actors.

Based in Chicago, Black Lives Black Words provides theatre artists of color the opportunity to have their voice heard, raw and unfiltered, to speak honest truth about the issues that take place in their communities. The activist organization realizes that every voice, experience and narrative is essential to bridging connection and creating societal change. For a team of 35 International Artists, it is a true testimony to how an artistically determined group can convey a meaningful message. The company 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, a true power-couple that 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 be out of their reach. The play was written by actor, writer, producer, director and Chicago South Side native Katrina D. RiChard, whose mission is to illuminate marginalized voices, tell classic stories that have never been told before with a fresh perspective through her experiences in Chicago. The play will also be accompanied by a soundscape from sound designer Gabriel Causon, all under the direction of internationally renowned director Valerie Curtis-Newton, Head of Directing at the University of Washington School of Drama and recognized as The Seattle Times' Most Influential People of the Last Decade in 2020.

"The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale" follows the true and powerful 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 and earned himself the nickname "Yankee" due to his love of all things American. The play follows the events Oluwale experiences facing police brutality. Over 50 years after the tragic death of Oluwale, his story still resonates with Black audiences from around the world. The play was written by Nigerian playwright and stage and film director Wole Oguntokun and directed by acclaimed actor and stage director Harry Waters Jr., best known for his role as Marvin Berry in Back to the Future.

"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."

"Call for the Wailing Women" will be performed and virtually accessible for viewing October 22-25 at 7-8:30 p.m. "The Emancipation of Yankee Oluwale" will take place November 19-22 from 7-8:30 pm. The plays will be livestreamed via Zoom and tickets are available for purchase at $17 general admission and $10 for students.

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