6th Annual The New Black Fest At The Lark To Explore Black Progress, Erasure

6th Annual The New Black Fest At The Lark To Explore Black Progress, Erasure

The New Black Fest and The Lark, two theater organizations dedicated to celebrating and advocating for stories that uplift the wide range of experiences in our complex world, are proud to announce the sixth annual The New Black Fest at The Lark.

This week-long event is aimed at showcasing diverse and provocative work in a festival of Black theater artists from throughout the Diaspora, and will include a kick-off panel, an open-mic style evening inspired by The Moth, talkbacks, and staged readings of three plays-in-progress. The festival will take place April 1-5, 2019, and will feature work by Tony-nominee Pascale Armand ($#!thole Country Clapback), 2018 Van Lier New Voices Fellow at The Lark Erika Dickerson-Despenza ([hieroglyph]), and 2017 Whiting Award-winner James Ijames (Tank Stranger Sees the Face of the Divine in the Condensation of a Water Glass).

The theme of this year's festival, Black Erasure, Black Progress was conceived by Keith Josef Adkins, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The New Black Fest. It's no secret the Black community in America has always been in a constant state of transformation and adjustment, said Adkins. Laws and rules based in white entitlement, racism, and supremacy have dictated (or attempted to dictate) our momentum and progress. However, despite these acts (or attempts) of erasure, the black community remains resilient. I wanted this year's festival to speak to the double experience of erasure and progress in our communities and lives.

The festival will kick-off with a panel discussion on this theme, moderated by Adkins, and featuring playwright and 2018 Laurents/Hatcher Foundation Award-winner Donja R. Love (Sugar in Our Wounds, Fireflies), social justice arts and cultural leader Robyne Walker Murphy, who currently serves at the Executive Director of Groundswell, a youth development program that uses public art making to ignite personal and societal change, and documentary filmmaker and NAACP Image Award-nominee Yoruba Richen (The New Black, Promised Land).

Recent plays developed through The New Black Fest at The Lark that have received subsequent productions, readings, and honors include Donja R. Love's soft (New York Stage & Film), Jocelyn Bioh's School Girls; or The African Mean Girls Play (Center Theatre Group, MCC, Kansas City Rep, and others) Ngozi Anyanwu's Nike; or, We Don't Need Another Hero (The Kilroy's List 2017), Lenelle Mo se's Merit (The Kilroy's List 2016) and James Anthony Tyler's Artney Jackson (Williamstown Theatre Festival). Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage (Sweat) is a member of the advisory board of The New Black Fest, and has said of the festival at The Lark, This [event] is not about separation, it's about inclusion. It's about inviting people who don't get access.

The Kick-Off Panel will take place on April 1, 2019 at the Apollo Theater Soundstage, located at 253 West 125th Street. All other events will take place April 2 5, 2019 in The Lark's BareBones Studio, located at 311 West 43rd Street, on the 5th Floor. Each reading will be followed by a talkback and reception. All events are free of charge. Reservations are required, and can be made beginning Monday, March 18, 2019 through The Lark's website.


MONDAY, APRIL 1, 2019 at 7:00PM
Kick-Off Panel: Black Progress, Black Erasure
Moderated by Keith Josef Adkins
Featuring Donja R. Love, Robyne Walker Murphy, and Yoruba Richen
*This event will take place at the Apollo Theater Soundstage (253 West 125th Street)

TUESDAY, APRIL 2, 2019 at 7:00PM
Storyteller's Night
Inspired by The Moth
Hear from The New Black Fest at The Lark featured storytellers in this open-mic style event inspired by The Moth! Three curated artists will share theatrical, first person accounts of true stories from their lives, followed by a slam open to members of the public. We will begin taking sign-ups for the slam in-person, starting at 6:00pm on the night of the event. Five minute max for slam pieces. First come first served!

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 2019 at 7:00PM
Tank Stranger Sees the Face of the Divine in the Condensation of a Water Glass
By James Ijames
The Stranger family are weird and Tank Stranger is the weirdest of them all. So weird he might be aliens...or part alien? Bi-terrestrial? In this, super black, super futuristic retelling of the birth of Dionysus, the Stranger family discovers one of their own is from another planet and has to choose whether to stay on this slowly warming dumpster fire called earth or go to another world in another galaxy where the people live like gods and drink sunlight like water.

THURSDAY, APRIL 4, 2019 at 7:00PM
$#!thole Country Clapback
By Pascale Armand
A rebuttal to Donald Trump's comment about allowing only "people from shithole countries" entrance to the United States, and a chronicle of the playwright's family's journey to American citizenship.

FRIDAY, APRIL 5, 2019 at 7:00PM
by Erika Dickerson-Despenza
Two months after Hurricane Katrina, 13-year-old Davis and her father Ernest find themselves in Chicago. With her mother dedicated to the fight for Black land ownership in New Orleans and her father committed to starting a new life in Chicago, divorce threatens to further separate a family already torn apart, and Davis is left hanging in the balance. [hieroglyph] explores Davis' experience navigating the Chicago public school system while silently coping with the PTSD of a secret assault at the Superdome during Hurricane Katrina.

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