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San Diego Repertory Theatre Announces BLACK VOICES 2021 PLAY READING SERIES

Post-show discussions after each play will offer an opportunity to converse about topics of race, class, gender, intersectionality and police brutality.

San Diego Repertory Theatre Announces BLACK VOICES 2021 PLAY READING SERIES

San Diego Repertory Theatre has announced today the details of the brand new San Diego REP Black Voices 2021 Play Reading Series, a brand new program that will be presented in March and April, 2021. The series will consist of a selection of plays representing a diverse range of Black voices. Post-show discussions after each play will offer an opportunity to converse about topics of race, class, gender, intersectionality and police brutality. The plays will be presented live online, with one play reading on each consecutive Monday at 5:30 PM PDT, beginning March 15, 2021 (6:30 PM MDT, 7:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM EDT), and by a live online salon hosted by leading artists and scholars in the theatre industry.

"We seek with this series to share and celebrate the potent and wonderfully diverse voices of four Black playwrights, four Black directors and 23 actors, 18 of whom are African American or Asian American," says Sam Woodhouse, San Diego REP Artistic Director. "Now, more than ever, attention must be paid, and minds and hearts must open wide to listen closely to these essential American voices."

The brand new series will begin on March 15 with Polar Bears, Black Boys, and Prairie Fringed Orchids by Vincent Terrell Durham. This first reading will be directed by Rondrell McCormick. Following on March 22 will be Baton, written by Deneen Reynolds-Knott and directed by Dexter Singleton. March 29 will present Mud Row by Dominique Morriseau, with direction by Patricia McGregor. The series will close on April 5 with The Great Kahn by Michael Gene Sullivan, directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg.

The San Diego REP Black Voices 2021 Play Reading Series will be principally curated by director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg and REP Associate Artistic Director and Literary Manager Danielle Ward, with additional curation by dramaturg Kimberly King and REP Development & Artistic Associate & host of We Are Listening Ahmed Dents. The series includes a mixture of plays that have only had one production thus far and yet to be produced new works, similar to San Diego REP's 2020 Latinx New Play Festival. This new reading series is produced by REP Associate Producer & Casting Director Kim Heil and National New Play Network Producer-in-Residence Rebecca Myers.

BLACK VOICES 2021 PLAY READING SERIES DETAILS

March 15 at 5:30 PM PDT (6:30 PM MDT, 7:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM EDT)

Polar Bears, Black Boys, and Prairie Fringed Orchids

By Vincent Terrell Durham

Directed by Rondrell McCormick

With a perfect blend of wit, irony, and humor, this play boldly explores race and redemption in today's America. The story opens with a liberal White couple hosting a cocktail party at their renovated Harlem brownstone. The guests include a gay Black Lives Matter activist, his White partner, an author and businesswoman, and the mother of a slain 10-year-old Black boy. As this precarious party mixes cocktails and conversation about underweight polar bears, Lana Turner, gentrification, racial identity, and protecting the lives of Black boys, the evening reveals the importance of collective action that comes from truth.

Vincent Terrell Durham (Playwright) is a playwright and author who first honed his storytelling skills as a stand-up comic in comedy clubs across the country. He was born and raised in Binghamton, New York to a family of vibrant storytellers. His powerful new play Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids was co-commissioned and developed by PlayGround and Planet Earth Arts and was a 2020 Eugene O'Neill semifinalist. As a proud gay man of color, his voice is fresh and compelling as he goes unflinchingly to the heart of the matter and pulls no punches. All of which can be found in his 2020 Great Plains Theatre Conference finalist play, The Fertile River as well as his 2020 Samuel French OOB finalist play, Masking Our Blackness.

Rondrell McCormick's (Director) has film/tv credits that include February One (PBS/Netflix) and Channel 00 (Spike). Director of Vol. 1 A Post Racial America (Boston Court Pasadena), Weakend, Black Women Talking and Polar Bears, Black Boys & Prairie Fringed Orchids for Orlando Shakespeare Festival, Rondrell pays homage to his first creation web series, The Wesley's. Up next he ventures to finish his experimental short film, The Old Saturday and co direct anthology feature film Seasons. He is an alumnus of Sundance Theater Lab at MASS MoCA (Bella: An American Tall Tale) and a writer on music label WriterzBlok Music Group. Mr. McCormick's theater credits include Mark Twain's River Of Song (Jim-TheatreWorks), As You Like It (Oliver/Corin-SF Shakes), Between Riverside & Crazy (Junior-San Jose Stage), Graveyard Shift (Kane-SF Playhouse), Smokey Joe's Cafe (Adrian-Center REP), All's Well That Ends Well (Duke of Florence-Shakespeare and Company), and A Christmas Carol (Businessman-ACT). Mr. McCormick holds a B.F.A. in theater from North Carolina Agricultural And Technical State University and an M.F.A. in acting from the prestigious American Conservatory Theater.

March 22 at 5:30 PM PDT (6:30 PM MDT, 7:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM EDT)

Baton

By Deneen Reynolds-Knott

Directed by Dexter Singleton

This highly contemporary story tackles today's headlines: police brutality, Black Lives Matter and the Me Too Movement through the complex lens of human relationships. The story introduces Ava and Tim, a Black couple on a date that is interrupted by news of unrest in Baltimore after Freddie Gray's funeral. Ava and Tim grapple with differing feelings about the case--which, much like George Floyd, included a Black man who arrived at the police station unconscious and not breathing. When Ava reveals her past engagement to a White cop, it sparks a night of accusations, interrogations, and confessions.

Deneen Reynolds-Knott (Playwright) has developed work with Liberation Theatre Company's Writing Residency, Project Y's Playwrights Group, Rising Circle's INKtank Development Lab and Frank Silvera Workshop's 3in3 Playwright Residency. Deneen was a member of Clubbed Thumb's

2019-2020 Early-Career Writers' Group and received a finalist grant from their 2018 Open-

Application Commission. Her full-length play, Babes In Ho-lland, was featured at Playwrights Foundation's 2020 Bay Area Playwrights Festival. Another full-length Flashes & Floaters was read at the 2020 Playfest at Orlando Shakespeare Theater. Deneen's play, Baton, was selected for the 2018 Premiere Play Festival and received a workshop reading at Premiere Stages, the 2017 Playfest at the Orlando Shakes and finalist for the 2017 PlayPenn and Bay Area Playwrights conferences. Deneen's play, Antepartum, was presented at the 2020 Fire This Time Festival as part of their signature ten-minute play program. She received her MFA in film from Columbia University.

Dexter J. Singleton (Director) is from Detroit, MI. He is a director, producer, activist, and educator. He is currently the Founding Executive Artistic Director of Collective Consciousness Theatre (CCT), a multicultural theatre for social justice in New Haven, CT and the Director of New Play Development at TheatreSquared in Fayetteville, AR. Since 2007, Collective Consciousness Theatre has reached thousands of youth and adults with plays and workshops across the U.S. and Europe. They have produced the work of playwrights Dominique Morisseau, Idris Goodwin, Jackie Sibblies Drury, Katori Hall and many others. As a director, Dexter's work has been seen at TheatreSquared, University of Michigan, University of Arkansas, The Flea Theatre (NYC), Long Wharf Theatre, Passage Theatre and others. Recent credits include Sweat, Skeleton Crew, The Royale, Flint, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Among The Western Dinka, Black Book, Topdog/Underdog, and The Mountaintop. In his role at TheatreSquared, Dexter has developed many new works with writers across the country, including Sarah Gancher's online hit Russian Troll Farm (New York Times Critics Pick, Best Theatre of 2020) and the upcoming world premiere of Designing Women by Linda Bloodworth-Thomason. He is also a member of the Artistic Ensemble at Long Wharf Theatre, Visiting Assistant Professor of Performance at the University of Connecticut, Board Member for TYA/USA and Co-Chair for the TYA National Task Force for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. He was recently awarded the 2019 Artistic Excellence Award from the State of Connecticut and Distinguished Director of a Play for Black Book from The Kennedy Center/American College Theatre Festival. Upcoming Projects: Baton (San Diego Rep), Kill Move Paradise (Playhouse on Park).

March 29 at 5:30 PM PDT (6:30 PM MDT, 7:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM EDT)

Mud Row

By Dominique Morriseau

Directed by Patricia McGregor

Two generations of sisters protect and defy the legacy of their foremothers in this surprisingly funny, heart-pounding, and ultimately hopeful play. Elsie hopes to move up in the world by marrying into "the talented tenth," while her sister Frances joins the fight for Civil Rights. Decades later, estranged sisters Regine and Toshi are forced to reckon with their shared heritage, and each other, when Regine inherits Granny's house. Tony Award nominee Dominique Morisseau deftly shifts between past and present to paint a living portrait of family legacy.

Dominique Morisseau (Playwright) is the author of The Detroit Project (A 3-Play Cycle) which includes the following plays: Skeleton Crew (Atlantic Theater Company), Paradise Blue (Signature Theatre), and Detroit '67 (Public Theater, Classical Theatre of Harlem and NBT). Additional plays include: Pipeline (Lincoln Center Theatre), Sunset Baby (LAByrinth Theatre); Blood at the Root (National Black Theatre) and Follow Me To Nellie's (Premiere Stages). She is also the TONY nominated book writer on the new Broadway musical Ain't Too Proud - The Life and Times of the Temptations (Imperial Theatre). Dominique is alumna of The Public Theater Emerging Writer's Group, Women's Project Lab, and Lark Playwrights Workshop and has developed work at Sundance Lab, Williamstown Theatre Festival and Eugene O'Neil Playwrights Conference. She most recently served as Co-Producer on the Showtime series "Shameless" (3 seasons). Additional awards include: Spirit of Detroit Award, PoNY Fellowship, Sky-Cooper Prize, TEER Trailblazer Award, Steinberg Playwright Award, Audelco Awards, NBFT August Wilson Playwriting Award, Edward M. Kennedy Prize for Drama, OBIE Award (2), Ford Foundation Art of Change Fellowship, Variety's Women of Impact for 2017-18, and a recent MacArthur Genius Grant Fellow.

Patricia McGregor (Director) has twice been profiled by The New York Times for her direction of world premieres. Her recent credits include co-author and director of the world premiere of Lights Out, Nat King Cole (Peoples Light), Skeleton Crew (Geffen Theater), Grief (Center Theater Group), Parchman Hour (Guthrie Theater), Hamlet (The Public Theater), Ugly Lies the Bone (Roundabout Theatre Company), brownsville song (b-side for tray) (Lincoln Center Theater), the world premiere of Stagger Lee (Dallas Theater Center), and the world premiere of Hurt Village (Signature Theatre Company). Her other credits include A Raisin in the Sun, Winter's Tale, Spunk, Adoration of the Old Woman, Blood Dazzler, Holding It Down, Four Electric Ghosts, Nothing Personal, and The House That Will Not Stand. She served as tour consultant on J. Cole World Tour and will premiere a new piece at BAM by composer Ted Hearne and poet Saul Williams. For several years she has directed the 24 Hour Plays on Broadway. She is a Usual Suspect at New York Theatre Workshop, a co-founder of Angela's Pulse with he sister choreographer and organizer Paloma McGregor and was a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellow at Yale School of Drama, where she also served as Artistic Director of the Yale Cabaret.

April 5 at 5:30 PM PDT (6:30 PM MDT, 7:30 PM CDT, 8:30 PM EDT)

The Great Khan

By Michael Gene Sullivan

Directed by Delicia Turner Sonnenberg

In this entertaining piece centering on today's Black youth, you will find a call to action to fight against the injustices of our modern society. Two Black teens, Jayden and Ant, are connected together through unforeseen circumstances. As they seek to define themselves and reclaim their identity, Genghis Khan shows up to challenge their ideas, as well as our own. We are left with question: WHO gets to tell the story that makes up our history?

Michael Gene Sullivan (Playwright) is a veteran actor, playwright, director, blogger, and teacher committed to developing theatre of social and economic justice, of political self-determination, and, of course, musical comedy. As a playwright, Michael's work has appeared across the United States, as well as in Germany, Italy, Mexico, Spain, The Netherlands, Argentina, Australia, the United Kingdom, Columbia, Hong Kong, Canada, China, and Ukraine. He is a Resident Playwright for the Playwrights Foundation, was awarded the 2017 Playwriting Fellowship by the Djerassi Arts Center, and since 2000, served as Resident Playwright for the Tony and OBIE award-winning (and, despite its name, is never, ever silent) San Francisco Mime Troupe, where he has written or co-written over 20 plays.

Delicia Turner Sonnenberg (Director) was the founding artistic director of MOXIE Theatre where she received the New Visions Award for her "Risk Taking Leadership and Body of Work" from the San Diego Theatre Critics Circle. Other honors include a New Generations: Future Leaders grant from TCG at San Diego REP; SD Theatre Critics Circle "Craig Noel" awards for Outstanding Direction of a play as well as Outstanding Dramatic Production, NAACP Theatre awards and nomination for direction and production, and a Women's International Center Living Legacy Award. She was twice a recipient of the Van Lier Directing Fellowship through Second Stage Theatre in New York, and is an alumna of the New York Drama League's Directors Program.


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