A Journey Beyond Walls
On the verge of a redevelopment, NBT’s 50th season, Liberation: A Journey Beyond Walls, launches a new program while exploring collaboration locally, nationally and internationally. NBT Beyond Walls will allow National Black Theatre to work outside the confines of it’s formal space, to share pedagogy and artistic offerings with various institutions, constituencies and audiences while helping NBT ignite a local, national and international presence. NBT will also utilize this program period to formalize the documentation and archiving of the institution’s legacy in order to capture and preserve its contribution and impact on the field.
“In the catalytic year of 1968 when my mother founded NBT, (dr. Barbara Ann Teer); her commitment was not to the western canon of theater but to the liberation of her people. She used theater as an entry point for Black artist to come into relationship with their divinity, the audience to come into relationship with their activism and as a result, this awakening the two would take transformative actions around the healing of our national consciousness. 50 years later NBT finds itself more committed than ever to the vision of Dr. Teer and the reimagining of what Harlem, America and indeed the world might look like when the undergirding of every program is rooted in the healing principle of Black liberation. This is a very exciting time for NBT’s legacy and history; I hope you will all join us on this journey beyond walls.” - Sade Lythcott, CEO
THEATRE ARTS PROGRAM
July 11 - July 29, 2018 (NBT Production)
Oct. 17 - Oct. 28, 2018 (Arts Emerson Presentation)
written and performed by
Liza Jessie Peterson
directed by Talvin Wilks
Inspired by her decades-long work with prison populations, including on the notorious Riker’s Island, Liza Jessie Peterson’s timely and urgent one-person show unpacks the human impact of mass incarceration in America. Fearlessly funny, smart and provocative, The Peculiar Patriot traces the migration of systemic injustice from the plantation to the prison yard. Liza’s narrator, Betsy LaQuanda Ross, is a self-proclaimed “peculiar patriot,” who makes regular visits to penitentiaries to boost the morale of her incarcerated friends and family. Betsy is both victim and victor of this country’s prison system and her story turns statistics into achingly relatable stories, drawn from the experience of more than 2.5 million people behind bars.
June 8 - June 29, 2019
conceived, choreographed & directed by Ebony Noelle Golden
125th & FREEdom will make Harlem’s iconic 125th Street its stage as it explores the question: “If Harriet Tubman were alive today, how would she free Black people?” Composed of 16 movements and featuring a New Orleans-style brass band, the choreopoetic performance will take place at 16 sites as pop-up installations across the corridor of 125th Street from the East River to the Hudson River each Saturday in June, beginning on June 8. 125th & FREEdom sees a victorious, but battle-weary tribe of ancient-futuristic nomads as their long-forgotten leader, Tubman’s descendent, incites an epic journey to a land of promised liberation. Fusing song and poetry with choreography based on historic and current Black social dances, this piece will be an immersive, participatory cultural experience that is equal parts ritual performance, processional and protest. This event was produced through the SOUL Directing Residency Program.
February 13 - 17, 2019
written by Lee Edward Colston II
directed by Malika Oyetimein
Pastor Albert Jones plans a special church service to honor his late daughter Diane on the sixth anniversary of her death. But when his eldest son, Abdul-Malik, returns home from prison, the First family of Mother Bethel Baptist Church is forced to confront a hornet’s nest of long-buried secrets. With each member of the Jones clan desperately fighting to stay afloat, sometimes a family that stays together drowns together. This play was developed through the I Am Soul - Playwright Residency Program.
February 27 - March 3, 2019
written by Eric Micha Holmes
Directed by Miranda Haymon
Mondo Tragic is a live audio-drama that investigates how shockumentaries (or "mondo" films) from the 60' and 70's shaped a biracial man's racial journey. When the lead character becomes captivated by the prospect of documenting the life of a public figure, he is forced to reckon with memory and fantasy, film and documentary, Blackness and Africaness. Mondo Tragic is a genre-bending, multi-media, socially conscious, an experimental piece exploring form to find the truth. This play was developed through the I Am Soul - Playwright Residency Program.
In partnership with
Apollo Theatre's Salon Series
book, music and lyrics by
Jason Michael Webb & Lelund Durond Thompson
The Apollo Theater’s Salon Series in partnership with National Black Theatre presents WiLDFLOWER; a new musical that follows a rebellious, but devoted young mother who unwittingly meets a Sangoma, learns her ancestors’ purpose for her young son, and then must choose between the cost of obeying her ancestors or the higher cost of defying them. Set in the tumult of the early 90’s in both South Africa & the US, WiLDFLOWER features an exciting South African Pop & Gospel score to tell this epic tale.
WiLDFLOWER is developed as a part of NBT’s Soul L.A.B. Residency and The Apollo Salon Series, which began in 2016 to support innovative artists and works-in-progress projects.
COMMUNICATION ARTS PROGRAM
The Black Woman She Does Exist
March 16, 2019
Commissioned Works By:
Staceyann Chin, Chisa Hutchinson & Mfoniso Udofia
In partnership with Weeksville Heritage Center, National Black Theatre once again presented The Black Woman She Does Exist, an evening of commissioned work that was inspired by and in response to seminal texts written by Black women artists and activists of the 60's such as Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Ella Baker, and the women of SNCC. These works were created by the next generation of vital Black women voices; writers Mfoniso Udofia, Chisa Hutchinson, and Staceyann Chin. Seeking to strengthen the bonds between past and present, and in addition to the commissioned work, NBT has gathered pioneering Black women legends of the theater community to perform the original texts.
In Perpetual Flight:
The Migration of the Black Body
April 16, 2019
New Commissioned Works By:
Keith Joseph Adkins, Hope Boykin, Justin Hicks,
Sade Lythcott, Jonathan McCrory, & Kentia Miller
This one-day event examined the movement of Black bodies in America and the impact that movement has had in the quest for liberation. Utilizing the archives of the Schomburg Center, and using multidisciplinary performance and community dialogue, the National Black Theatre commissioned new pieces by theater-makers of African descent to examine the works of James Baldwin, Harriet Powers, Marcus Garvey, Harriet Tubman, and Jacob Lawrence to illuminate the complexities Black people have faced migrating in America.
This event was done in partnership with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.
From Outer Space
May 13, 2019
Celebrate black women and girls! Let's reclaim the social narrative that sees our bodies as foreign objects. Is it our majestic beauty the world doesn’t understand? Or our complex grandeur that cannot be named? Black Girls Are From Outer Space is an opportunity to affirm just how beyond extraordinary we are. Experience excerpts from the reading of Emana Rachelle's work in progress, Buried Corpses Speak, followed by a panel discussion with: Shaquana Blount of Girls Education Mentoring Services (GEMS), Dr. Nathalie Duroseau of Mount Sinai Hospital, Dr. Sasheen Hazel of Hazel Approach Psych Services, and moderated by Reverend Kyndra Frazier of First Corinthian Baptist Church. This event was produced through the Soul Producing Residency Program.