A week-long festival called The New Black Fest has been organized for the purpose of “celebrating, advocating, and showcasing diverse and provocative work in a festival of Black Theater artists from throughout the Diaspora.” A partnership of The New Black Fest with The Lark Theater, this year’s event includes talkbacks and panel events surrounding a 10-hour rehearsal process and public staged readings of four plays in development. Moreover, The New Black Fest provides an opportunity to build a community conversation around the development of new plays.
The festival will take place April 3-7, 2017, and featuring public readings of plays by Paul Robeson Award winner James Anthony Tyler (ARTNEY JACKSON), artist and activist Liza Jesse Peterson (CHIRON’S HOMEGURL HEALER HOWLS) who has performed excerpts of her one-person play THE PECULIAR PATRIOT in over 35 penitentiaries across the country, CTG/Humanitas Award winner Ngozi Anyanwu (NIKE OR WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HERO), and co-founder of The Continuum Project, Inc. and The New Black Fest playwright alumnus NSangou Njikam (WHEN WE LEFT).
The theme of this year’s festival, Black Sustainability, was conceived by Keith Josef Adkins, Artistic Director and Co-Founder of The New Black Fest, as an exploration for an answer to the question, “What does it take for a group of people, or an individual, to wake up every day and seek out normalcy while also pushing against legislative and social oppression?”
The festival will kick-off with a panel discussion titled “Black Sustainability in the Trump Era,” that will feature Yvette Carnell (journalist and Founder of BreakingBrown), Tressie McMillan Cottom Ph.D (writer, researcher, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University), Duarte Geraldino (journalist and former Wall Street corporate finance analyst), Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy (Associate Professor of Sociology in the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York), and Dorian T. Warren (President, Center for Community Change Action). The speakers and audience will engage in a conversation on survival, and the impact the presidential election of Donald Trump has had on shaping the way individuals in the artistic community articulate their politics and points of view.
The New Black Fest at The Lark will examine the definition and possibility of normalcy in our current cultural climate, how sustainability has been shaped in the past and present, and whether fantasy, unapologetic truth, resistance, and fear, can serve as forms of sustainability, forms of resistance, or simply self-definition. Through the panel discussion, the plays, and talkbacks, The New Black Fest and The Lark hope to provide an opportunity to build a community conversation around the development and power of new plays.
The Kick-Off Panel will take place on April 3, 2017 at The 52nd Street Project, located at 789 10th Avenue, in New York City. Doors open at 6:30pm. The public readings will take place April 4-7, 2017 in The Lark’s BareBones Studio, located at 311 West 43rd Street, on the 5th Floor. Each reading will be followed by a talkback and reception. All events are free of charge, though reservations are required. For more information, visit The Lark’s website at www.larktheatre.org/what’s-happening-new-black-fest-2017.
MONDAY, APRIL 3, 2017 at 7:00PM
Kick-Off Panel: Black Sustainability in the Trump Era
Featuring: Yvette Carnell (journalist and Founder of BreakingBrown), Tressie McMillan Cottom Ph.D (writer, researcher, and Assistant Professor of Sociology at Virginia Commonwealth University), Duarte Geraldino (journalist and former Wall Street corporate finance analyst), Dr. R. L’Heureux Lewis-McCoy (Associate Professor of Sociology in the Colin Powell School for Civic and Global Leadership and the Black Studies Program at the City College of New York), and Dorian T. Warren (President, Center for Community Change Action).
TUESDAY, APRIL 4, 2017 at 7:00PM
By James Anthony Tyler
Artney Jackson is a 25-year veteran of the Cable Company in Las Vegas, Nevada. When his supervisor resigns, Artney finally has his shot at the position, but a conflict with his adult, schizophrenic son risks Artney succumbing to his fears, and may ruin the opportunity to rise up.
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 5, 2017 at 7:00PM
CHIRON’S HOMEGURL HEALER HOWLS
By Liza Jessie Peterson
Chiron’s Homegurl Healer Howls is Black Girl magic from bud to full bloom. It weaves monologue and poetry to tell the story of how a wounded teenage loud mouth girl, Keisha, unaware of her power and magic, slowly discovers her inner mystic through a series of awakenings and steps into her ancient futuristic wizard, Merlina. All the while Chiron, the overarching spirt is guiding the journey. The Street Chorus, Chiron’s magical posse, helps tell the story through transitional songs and musical testimonies.
THURSDAY, APRIL 6, 2017 at 7:00PM
WHEN WE LEFT
By NSangou Njikam
With America in turmoil over racial tensions and an uncertain future, a fiery Congresswoman seeks to bring justice and equality for African Americans. But as tensions grow, a mysterious organization emerges claiming they have the ultimate solution for Black people: Return to Africa. Now she must choose which battle she will fight: the side of American equality or the side of total Liberation.
FRIDAY, APRIL 7, 2017 at 7:00PM
NIKE OR WE DON’T NEED ANOTHER HERO
By Ngozi Anyanwu
Is an Origin story of the Goddess Nike and a retelling of the Olympus myth Black Greek Super hero style
The New Black Fest is a theater organization committed to celebrating insurgent voices within the diverse African Diaspora through theater, film and discussion. The New Black Fest is a gathering of artists, thinkers, activists and audiences who are dedicated to stretching, interrogating and uplifting the Black aesthetic in the 21st century. The New Black Fest has developed many artists including Mfoniso Udofia, Kwame Kwei-Armah, Dennis Allen II, Eisa Davis and more. It has partnered with the National Black Theatre, 651 ARTS, the BRIC Arts/Media/Brooklyn, the Classical Theatre of Harlem and more. It also co-founded the American Slavery Project as well as commissioned Facing Our Truth: 10-Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race and Privilege, HANDS UP: 7 Playwrights, 7 Testaments, and the recent Un-Tamed: Hair Body Attitude – Short Plays by Black Women (in collaboration with Dominique Morisseau).
Keith Josef Adkins (Artistic Director) As a playwright, his plays include THE PEOPLE BEFORE THE PARK (Premiere Stages), PITBULLS (Rattlestick), SAFE HOUSE (Aurora Theatre, Cincinnati Playhouse, Repertory Theatre of St. Louis), among others. His play THE LAST SAINT ON SUGAR HILL received its New York City premiere in 2013 at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theater under the direction of Seret Scott and earned six 2014 Audelco nominations. Other plays include THE MIGRANT’S FIGHT, SUGAR AND NEEDLES, THE FINAL DAZE, among others.Keith is currently one very busy man. He is under commission by Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park while writing a screenplay for James Franco’s Rabbit Bandini Production Company and working as a writer for CBS’ THE GOOD FIGHT.