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Casting Announced For The 2nd Annual Black Motherhood And Parenting New Play Festival

The festival runs virtually from October 20 - November 14, 2022.

Casting Announced For The 2nd Annual Black Motherhood And Parenting New Play Festival

Parent Artist Advocacy League (PAAL) and Blackboard Plays have announced the casting for the 2nd Annual Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival, taking place virtually from October 20 - November 14, 2022. Mister Fitzgerald (currently in A Raisin in the Sun, The Public Theater) joins the festival along with Marinda Anderson* (New Amsterdam, Gotham), Donn Harper (The Chi, Chicago P.D., Southside with You, Happy Endings), and Enoch King (Atlanta, Uncle Drew, Drumline, The Fighting Temptations). Full company lists below.

Returning for a second year of support, partner theatres Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, and Detroit Public Theatre are joined by this year's newcomers National Black Theatre, each to support a specific playwright and play. This year's festival sponsors include Oregon Shakespeare Festival, The Dramatists Guild Foundation, The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, The Public Theater, and GhostLight Productions Inc. Festival passes are available now for $50 at bit.ly/bmpfest22pass.

After a ten-week call for new plays by playwrights who identify as Black Parents or Caregivers, the BMPFest Review committee, which featured Directors from the 1st Annual Festival, Mary E. Hodges (Lehman Trilogy, 2nd Stage's Patience), Dawn Monique Williams and Ellen Valencia, selected the 10 semi-finalists in April 2022. By April 2022, the Final 4 playwrights were selected with the support of Sandra Daley-Sharif, who served on the festival's Finalist Review Committee.

10 plays were selected as semi-finalists. The 4 finalists, announced last week selected from that group of 10 to be virtually produced as part of this year's festival are: Sonhara Eastman with, "SAHM", Keenya Jackson with "Botanicals or Giving it to God", Naomi Lorrain (Orange is the New Black, What To Send Up When It Goes Down) with "Theresa", and Nicole Santora with "The Last Fresh Start".


THE 2ND ANNUAL BLACK MOTHERHOOD AND PARENTING NEW PLAY FESTIVAL LINE-UP:

The final four plays stream for 96 hours each week on Thursdays, beginning Thursday, October 20, 2022, with a new play launching each week until the final week's launch on Thursday, November 10, 2022.

Opening the festival is "SAHM" by Sonhara Eastman, Directed by Jamil Jude (Artistic Director, Kenny Leon's True Colors Theatre Company; Director, Choir Boy - 5th Avenue)


In "SAHM", Sonhara Eastman tells the story of an overwhelmed stay-at-home mom who finds her tribe in her meddling neighbor who is looking for a tribe of her own. Nastacia Nicole Guimont, Enoch King*, and Marguerite Hannah* join the company of SAHM. Jamil Jude directs this new digital play, which runs Thursday, October 20 at 7pm EST / 6pm CST / 4pm PST - Monday, October 24, 2022 at 7pm EST / 6pm CST / 4pm PST. "SAHM" is produced in partnership with National Black Theatre.

Next up is "Theresa" by Naomi Lorrain, Directed by Khanisha Foster

In "Theresa", Nia's parents disagree with how she and her new partner, Theresa, want to raise Nia's five year old son. Naomi Lorrain has written a satirical exploration of what happens when generational notions of childrearing clash. Shayvawn Webster* (Law and Order), Marinda Anderson* (New Amsterdam, Gotham), Sardia Robinson (Samir), Michael Aaron Pogue* (The Goodman - Father comes Home from the Wars, and Mister Fitzgerald* (The Public Theater - A Raisin in the Sun) join the cast. Khanisha Foster directs this new digital play, which runs Thursday, October 27, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST - Monday, October 31, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST. "Theresa" is produced in partnership with Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The 3rd presentation is "The Last Fresh Start" by Nicole Santora , Directed by Adena Varner

In "The Last Fresh Start", Nicole Santora tells the story of Gwendolyn, a mother who abandons her daughter to pursue her artistic dreams overseas and struggles as an undocumented nanny. Mari Travis and Christian Kitchens join "The Last Fresh Start" company. Adena Varner directs this new digital play, which runs Thursday, November 3, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST - Monday, November 7, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST. "The Last Fresh Start" is produced in partnership with The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis.

Closing out the festival is "Botanicals or Giving it to God" by Keenya Jackson , Directed by Ny'Ea Reynolds

In "Botanicals or Giving it to God", Keenya Jackson explores how difficult it is for us to heal and forgive, when Joe, an elderly man who prefers to not interact with neighbors, is left to deal with the outcome of the way that he handles conflict. Donn Harper (The Chi, Chicago P.D., Southside with You, Happy Endings) , Ti Nicole Danridge, Ameer Dunn, and Mary Parris join the cast. Ny'Ea Reynolds directs this new play which runs Thursday, November 10, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST - Monday, November 14, 2022 at 7pm EST/ 6pm CST / 4pm PST "Botanicals or Giving it to God" is presented in partnership with Detroit Public Theatre.

Building on practices developed by Blackboard Plays' reading series, festival artists and company members receive direct support and networking opportunities throughout the festival process, with Adena Varner, Director of Community and Learning Engagement for The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis adding, "BMPfest has a unique and intentional vision that is actually transforming how we manifest our art. Not only are theatre makers working collaboratively and innovatively on a new art form that we are still learning and cutting our teeth on, but we are also creating connections and strengthening relationships with multi-disciplined artists across the country."

The #BMPFest Production Team was led by Artistic Producer, Amber D. Gray, with Ghostlight Productions leading the remote capture of the festival. Each of the 4 plays were produced remotely and will take place on the festival website: www.bmpfestival.com

In keeping with PAAL policies and with support provided by the Dramatists Guild Foundation, childcare/caregiver stipends and caregiver supportive practices are provided for all festival participants and contributors, with festival playwright finalist Keenya Jackson sharing, "One of the biggest highlights of working with the Black Motherhood and Parenting New Play Festival was the sense of gratification knowing that they support the artists as much as the art. BMPFest offered childcare stipends, worked with everyone's schedule and valued every opinion - we were a true team."

The submission process was open to all Black playwrights with families throughout the African Diaspora. In its inaugural year, all finalists were Black mothers, but the the festival was and remains open to Black plays and playwrights that tell the stories of Black families, which includes mothers, fathers, non-binary and trans parents and caregivers. Last year's festival featured theatre and film veterans such as Pat Bowie, Ezra Knight and Tonya Pinkins. This new digital play festival features four plays written by Black parent and/or caregiver playwrights, four nationally renowned partner theatres, and engages over 50 artists from around the country.

Submissions for the 2023 Festival are already opened: bit.ly/bmpfest23submit


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