51st Season

Soul Journey:
NBT Beyond Walls

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In preparation for the redevelopment project of its current site, National Black Theatre continues its program NBT Beyond Walls. Established during the 50th season, NBT Beyond Walls is an opportunity to harness NBT’s legacy, pedagogy, and commitment to Black artistry and share it with other institutions around the world. Highlights of the 51st season include a record-setting number of partnerships for NBT including Apollo Theater, The Bushwick Starr, Carnegie Hall, New York University Tisch Department of Drama, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. NBT will present eight productions this season including several commissions and the two workshop productions from NBT’s current I AM SOUL Playwright Residents. 

“I’m so excited for NBT’s 51st season which is focused on reinvigorating the Soul of NBT’s core principles and purpose of our founding. When my mother started the theater in 1968, it was meant to be a training ground and laboratory for unfettered Black creativity and imagination in service of our courageous quest for liberation. By taking our programming beyond our traditional walls we are introducing the bravery of Dr. Teer’s catalytic pedagogy to new audiences, communities and constituencies. I can think of no better time to have these healing conversations and practices front and center as NBT journeys our work around the world!” - Sade Lythcott, CEO

(Click an image to learn more!)

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Postponed/Cancelled Due to COVID-19

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100 Years 100 Women
February 15 & May 16, 2020

A city wide partnership with Park Avenue Armory


100 Years | 100 Women will launch on February 15, 2020 as part of the Armory’s annual “Culture in a Changing America” symposium—a day-long event hosted throughout the institution’s historic period rooms, featuring conversations, performances, and salons led by artists, activists, scholars, and civic and cultural leaders. At the end of the symposium, which focuses this year on the complex topic of suffrage, the partner organizations will announce the names of the commissioned artists. The culminating event, a large gathering, showcase, and celebration of the commissions, will take place on May 16, 2020 in the Armory’s Wade Thompson Drill Hall and historic rooms.

SKiNFoLK: AN AMERICAN SHOW (click here for ticket info)

February 26 - March 14, 2020

Written by Jillian Walker

Directed by Mei Ann Teo

A co-production with The Bushwick Starr


YOU. Yes, you. Whoever and however you are. You follow me through low-hanging roots and vines. Are you in ancestral woods? A juke joint? All of the above/below? YOU are in SKiNFoLK: An American Show by Jillian Walker. As the music sounds, you drop down into this ritual of liberation, bearing witness to the playwright-performer’s identity, heritage and legacy as a black woman in this America. This play collides with blues, jazz, neosoul, pop, rock and spiritual black legacies. What will you see in the archive? Who will you meet? What is down at the root? What color is the sky again?


BAYANO (Workshop Production)

March 11 - 15, 2020

Written by Darrel Alejandro Holnes

Directed by Jeffrey Page


Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, BAYANO explores the history, spirituality, and liberation of Bayano, an African who struggles to escape slavery in 16th century Panama. An imaginative quest through the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, this epic tale follows Bayano and the Yoruba deities and gods who intercede on his journey to return to his family in Yorubaland. Presented as part of NBT’s I AM SOUL Playwright Residency



RETREAT (Workshop Production)

April 1 - 5, 2020

Written by Tracey Conyer Lee 

Directed by Zhailon Levingston


When justice fails us, we all do time. From his childhood friend to a dude he’s never met, Curtis’ life sentence has been placed on us all. Who gets exonerated? Whose appeal is heard? And who chooses solitary confinement? Inspired by a true story, RETREATS’ concrete walls and barbed wire fencing infest the prison of our minds, of our reactive life choices, and our inability to live free. #FreedomAndJusticeForAll. Presented as part of NBT’s I AM SOUL Playwright Residency.




April 13, 2020

Presented at The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts  


CAN & ABLE! THE RESILIENCE OF THE GIFT brings together several differently-abled Black artists for an evening of new, multidisciplinary micro-commissions inspired by Ludwig van Beethoven’s resilience to create in spite of his health challenges. Drawing from Beethoven’s personal journal and his late-period masterwork, the “Piano Trio, Op. 97,” these artists celebrate how art can change the world “in spite of.” This evening is a partnership between National Black Theatre and The New York Public Library for the Performing Arts at Lincoln Center as a part of Carnegie Hall’s City-Wide Festival honoring the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth. 




April 20, 2020

Presented at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture 


Building off the sold out event, “In Perpetual Flight: The Migration of the Black Body,” (as a part of Carnegie Hall’s “Migrations” Festival), this continued partnership will explore the theme of Black travel through newly micro-commissioned multidisciplinary pieces centering on Afrofuturism.



April 23 - May 2, 2020

Written by Adrienne Kennedy

Directed by Chelsea Harrison

Presented at New York University Tisch School of the Arts 


FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO is a modern classic about the student Sarah, a young Black woman living in New York City, and her search for her identity in a very complex, warring, and fractured world. This search is manifested in her many selves: Queen Victoria, the Duchess of Hapsburg, Patrica Lumumba, and Jesus Christ. 




April 23 - May 2, 2020

Written by Suzan-Lori Parks

Directed by Jonathan McCrory

Presented at New York University Tisch School of the Arts 


A woman tries to feed her husband a fried drumstick. Dragons roam a flat earth. The last Black man in the whole entire world dies again. And again. Careening through memory and language, Parks explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy. A riotous theatrical event, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz. FUNNYHOUSE OF A NEGRO and DEATH OF THE LAST BLACK MAN IN THE WHOLE ENTIRE WORLD are presented with and in-partnership with New York University Tisch Department of Drama.  




May 1 & 2, 2020
Written by Sade Lythcott

Presented at the Apollo Theater


Set against the backdrop of national protests around the decay of civility, idealism, and street loyalty,  A TIME TO LOVE is an ageless musical tale of love in the midst of social unrest. Caught between two worlds, Aisha and Junior try to shake off the restraints of their family legacy and family sins that threatens their relationship. With whispers of their past predicting doom and street life prophesying their future, Aisha & Junior strive to find peace in all of the tumult around them and fight for their time to love.

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's

National Black Theatre
Institute of Action Arts