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Classical Theatre of Harlem & Hip-Hop Theater Festival Present SEED

The OBIE Award-winning Classical Theatre of Harlem (Ty Jones, Producing Director) in conjunction with Hip-Hop Theater Festival (Clyde Valentin, Executive Director and Kamilah Forbes, Artistic Director) will present the world & Off-Broadway premiere of SEED, an award-winning play written by Radha Blank & directed by Niegel Smith, at the National Black Theatre in Harlem. Previews begin Tuesday, September 6 with Opening Night, Friday, September 16.

SEED explores themes of abandonment, poverty, class differences & byproducts of the crack epidemic that swept through Harlem in the 1980s & ‘90s. It tells the story in a vibrant & exciting style, infused with rhythm & verse integral to hip-hop culture. As a compelling new drama that examines class & cultural fault lines in one of America's most prominent Black communities, SEED begs the question: How far are you willing to go to protect the future of a community & its children?

The play follows burnt-out social worker Anne Colleen Simpson, who decides to leave the field on a high note, with a book detailing her career. When Chee-Chee, a gifted twelve-year-old from the "projects" collides into her life, she's forced to confront his young mother and The Shadows of her past. Anne and Chee-Chee develop an unlikely friendship that leads to an explosive encounter threatening both their futures.

A 2010 recipient of the National Endowment of the Arts New Play Development Award, SEED was most recently developed through a partnership between the 10th Annual DC Hip-Hop Theater Festival & Arena Stage's New Play Institute. "SEED is my love letter to Harlem," says playwright Radha Blank. "Harlem has survived so much & while she continues to evolve, Harlem maintains a fiery spirit by way of its inhabitants, new & old. I'm thrilled we get to premiere this play in the community that inspired it!"

Featured in this Off-Broadway production are Jocelyn Bioh, Khadim Diop, Bridgit Antoinette Evans, Jaime Lincoln Smith & Pernell Walker.

Radha Blank's other plays include American Schemes, HappyFlowerNail, nannyland, Reverb, Kenya & Casket Sharp & have been developed &/or presented at Arena Stage, The Lark, The Public Theater, Dixon Place, Penumbra Theatre, The City Parks Foundation/Central Park SummerStage, Here, Voice & Vision, Hedgebrook Women's Playwright Festival, WICA & ACT Theatre. Her awards & fellowships include New York Foundation for the Arts Artist Fellowship, The Nickelodeon Writer's Fellowship, The Public Theater's inaugural Emerging Writer's Group as well as The 2011 Helen Merrill Award in Playwriting.
Niegel Smith is a founding member of 425D, a director's lab. His New York directing credits include Neighbors (Public Theater), Ether Steeds (Fringe Award for Best Ensemble), We Declare You a Terrorist (SPF), Metro Psalm, Rainy Days & Mondays (Fringe Award-Fringe Encores), Maud-The Madness (Phoenix Ensemble Theatre), One For The Road & LIMBS: A Pageant (HERE). He is Associate Director to Bill T. Jones on the musical FELA! & has assisted directors Jo Bonney, James Lapine, Kristin Marting, Richard Nelson & George C. Wolfe. As Co-Artistic Director of PERMISO with Todd Shalom, he has co-conceived & staged mass rituals in public settings. Smith, a graduate of Dartmouth College, has received grants and fellowships from Theatre Communications Group, the Van Lier Fund, & the Tucker Foundation.

Since its founding in 1999, Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) has presented nearly forty critically acclaimed productions which, according to Time Out New York, have cemented CTH's reputation as "one of the gutsiest & physically fearless groups around." The New York Times has declared, "If there is a more dauntless ensemble in New York than the Classical Theatre of Harlem, I don't know what it is." CTH combines non-traditional casting, original adaptations, music & dance in ways that render works from the classical canon as fresh, innovative & essentially a new experience of world classics. It is CTH's vision to create the next great American theatre company whose value to its community is inherent & essential; a company engaged in producing theatre that has the capacity to change lives & truly reflects the diversity of ideas & racial tapestry that is America. Productions have included works by Anton Chekhov, Samuel Beckett, Euripides, Jean Genet, Langston Hughes, Adrienne Kennedy, William Shakespeare, Derek Walcott & August Wilson, among many others.

The ongoing goal of Hip-Hop Theater Festival (HHTF) is to elevate Hip-Hop theater into a widely recognized genre by empowering artists to develop new works & build coalitions with artists & institutions around the world. For a decade, Hip-Hop Theater Festival has showcased the stories, people, music, dance & word of Hip-Hop live & on stage. All around the world, HHTF is known as one of the most influential outlets showcasing Hip-Hop performing arts. Since its inception, HHTF has presented hundreds of artists including: Danny Hoch, Sarah Jones, Will Power, Alan Ket, Enrique "PART ONE" Torres, Jennifer Armas, The Roots, Common, Kanye West, Rubberbandance Company, Kelly Zen-Yi Tsai, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Nilaja Sun, Frank Ejara, Eisa Davis, Niels Storm, Rabitsky, Psalmayen 24, Universes, J. Kyle Manzay & many, many more.

The National Black Theatre was created 43 years ago by theatre visionary, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, who perhaps, said it best, "It is our stand to create in urban communities where indigenous people work, live and serve; a culturally conscious leadership of entrepreneurial artists whose commitment is to ownership, self-empowerment, self-determination and full creative self-expression. NBT is an example for artists to aspire to own and produce art forms that encourage building theatre environments that instill dignity, respect and self love."

DATES: Previews: Tuesday, September 6 - Thursday, September 15
Performances: Friday, September 16 - Sunday, October 9
TIMES: Wednesday - Sunday @ 8pm, matinees Saturday @ 2 pm & Sunday @ 3 pm
THEATRE: National Black Theatre ~ 2031 Fifth Avenue @ 125th Street
TICKETS: $48 - $30 & $20 Students/Seniors
RESERVATIONS: (866)811-4111 or online

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