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True Colors And The Hansberry Project Announce THE DRINKING GOURD: BLACK WRITERS AT WORK

The program will create a network of Black theatres linked in the shared goal to commission, develop, and premiere the work of Black artists.

True Colors Theatre Company and The Hansberry Project announce the pilot year of The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work, a new play program that will create a network of Black theatres linked in the shared goal to co-commission, co-develop, and co-premiere the work of Black artists across the country. Jamil Jude, Artistic Director at True Colors, conceived of the idea in response to the dearth of Black work being produced on the American Theatre stage. This partnership with the Seattle-based Hansberry Project is the first step in engaging Black theatre companies from across North America to address this gap.

Hansberry Project Director Valerie Curtis Newton, who provided the name for this program, describes it as a way to "create a space where the entire community can be enriched by the voices of professional Black artists, reflecting autonomous concerns, investigations, dreams, and artistic expression." Jude concurs, "True Colors' mission challenges us to connect our audience with leading and emerging voices in American theatre today who are illuminating the experiences of Black people and telling bold stories that grow from the African diaspora. The Drinking Gourd allows True Colors to search out and support Black voices through a national network that will uplift more Black voices and nurture their stories within Black theatres."

The Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work is a multi-year project that ultimately seeks to create a coalition of five Black theatres. Hansberry Project and True Colors will pilot the program in 2021, with each presenting readings of four plays. The vision over time is for all five member theatres to produce staged workshops and readings, creating a pipeline of new works for eventual full productions. This project has the potential to add new Black plays to the theatre ecology through a rolling process of commissions, readings and workshops, and productions. The Black artists engaged in The Drinking Gourd will have an unprecedented opportunity to work with a number of producing theatres serving different communities of color across the country.

True Colors has commissioned three writers - Addae Moon, Gabrielle Fulton-Ponder, and Trey Anthony - and Hansberry has commissioned five - Faith Bennet Russell, Aviona Rodriguez, Porscha Shaw, Ty Greenwood and Brian JonesMooney - to develop new works.

The first readings of the Drinking Gourd program will begin in February and will feature plays by Addae Moon at True Colors and Faith Bennett Russell at the Hansberry Project. The 2021 series will be capped off with a Juneteenth Community Conversation hosted by The Hansberry Project. The full detailed schedule will be announced shortly.

Drinking Gourd: Black Writers at Work is made possible in part by funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, SouthArts Foundation and Hansberry's generous donors.

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