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SEED Comes To The National Black Theatre in Harlem, Previews 9/6

The OBIE award-winning Classical Theatre of Harlem (Ty Jones, producing director) in conjunction with Hip-Hop Theater Festival (Clyde Valentín, executive director and Kamilah Forbes, artistic director) will present the world and Off-Broadway premiere of SEED, an award-winning play written by Radha Blank and directed by Niegel Smith, at the National Black Theater in Harlem. Previews begin Tuesday, September 6 and Opening Night is slated for Friday, September 16 (NEW DATE). Cast includes Bridgit Antoinette Evans as Anne, Jocelyn Bioh at LaTonya, Jaime Lincoln Smith at Twan, Khadim Diop at Che-Che, and Pernell Walker as Rashawn.

SEED explores themes of abandonment, poverty, class differences and byproducts of the crack epidemic that swept through Harlem in the 1980s and 90s. It tells the story in a vibrant and exciting style, infused with rhythm and verse integral to hip-hop culture. As a compelling new drama that examines class and 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 and 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.

"SEED is my love letter to Harlem," says playwright Radha Blank. "Harlem has survived so much and while she continues to evolve, Harlem maintains a fiery spirit by way of its inhabitants, new and old. I'm thrilled we get to premiere this play in the community that inspired it!"

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 and Arena Stage's New Play Institute.

Previews begin on Tuesday, September 6 and run through Thursday, September 15-except on Thursday, September 8, Monday, September 12 and Tuesday, September 13, when there will be no shows. Performances run from Friday, September 16 through Sunday, October 9 at the National Black Theater (2031 Fifth Avenue at 125th Street in Harlem, #2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 subways to 125th Street). Performances will take place every Wednesday through Sunday at 8:00 pm, with matinees on Saturday at 2 pm and Sunday at 3 pm. Tickets are $48 for general admission and $20 for students and seniors and may be purchased by calling 866-811-4111 or online at, where further information on the show is available.

Radha Blank's other plays include American Schemes, HappyFlowerNail, nannyland, Reverb, Kenya and Casket Sharp. Her awards and 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. Her plays have been developed and/or presented at Arena Stage, The Lark, The Public Theater, Dixon Place, Penumbra Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem, The City Parks Foundation/Central Park SummerStage, Here, Voice & Vision, Hedgebrook Women's Playwright Festival, WICA and ACT Theatre. Radha is a native of "New Yawk," where she has instructed youth in theatre and writing for over fifteen years.

Niegel Smith is a founding member of 425D, a director's lab. His New York directing credits include SEED (Classical Theatre of Harlem and Hip Hop Theater Festival), 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 and LIMBS: A Pageant (HERE). He is Associate Director to Bill T. Jones on the musical FELA! and has assisted directors Jo Bonney, James Lapine, Kristin Marting, Richard Nelson and George C. Wolfe. As Co-Artistic Director of PERMISO with Todd Shalom, he has co-conceived and 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, and the Tucker Foundation. Before attending high school in Detroit, he grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.

About The Classical Theatre of Harlem
Since its founding in 1999, The 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 and physically fearless groups around." The New York Times has declared, "If there is a more dauntless ensemble in New York than the Classical Theater of Harlem, I don't know what it is." CTH combines non-traditional casting, original adaptations, music and dance in ways that render works from the classical canon as fresh, innovative, and 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 and essential, a company that is engaged in producing theatre that has the capacity to change lives and truly reflects the diversity of ideas and 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 and 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 and build coalitions with artists and institutions around the world. For a decade, Hip-Hop Theater Festival has showcased the stories, people, music, dance, and word of Hip-Hop live and 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, Aya de Leon, Baba Israel, Kristina Wong, Marc Bamuthi Joseph, Liza Colon Zayas, Chad Boseman, Ase Dance Theater Collective, The Suicide Kings, Rha Goddess, Kris Diaz, Ben Snyder, Holly Bass, Jerry Quickley, Sarah Jones, Will Power, Alan Ket, Enrique "PART ONE" Torres, Jennifer Armas, olive Dance Theatre, Ishle Park, The Beatnuts, The Roots, Common, Kanye West, Carlos "MARE139" Rodriguez, Rubberbandance Company, Kelly Zen-Yi Tsai, Rennie Harris Puremovement, Nilaja Sun, Frank Ejara, Eisa Davis, Niels Storm, Rabitsky, Psalmayen 24, Universes, J. Kyle Manzay, and many, many more.

"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." - NBT Founder and Visionary Dr. Barbara Ann Teer.


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