TheatreLAB Announces BlackList, a Celebration of the African American Voice
Richmond, VA: TheatreLAB is proud to introduce their newest program, BlackList. Conceived by TheatreLAB CompanyArtist, Mary Shaw, and co-created by local theatre favorite, Carolyn Meade, BlackList celebrates the African American voice. By spotlighting the individual works of an influential artist, BlackList will shed light on the stories of those who have been otherwise cast in the dark. BlackList is a platform for communication about African American Artistry and its place in our shared American experience. For the inaugural celebration, BlackList will showcase August Wilson alongside the 10-year anniversary of his death.
BlackList: August Wilson will consist of scenes and monologues from each play in his American magnum opus, The Century Cycle. The event will take place on October 18th at 7pm at TheatreLAB’s home, The Basement. The evening’s proceeds will fund a scholarship for a current or college-bound African American theatre student. Details for the scholarship application are forthcoming. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for students and are available at TheatreLABrva.org today. Seating is limited.
From TheatreLAB CompanyArtist and BlackList Creator, Mary Shaw: “As a CompanyArtist with TheatreLAB, I have been afforded the opportunity to not just feel free to create, but to have a support system that recognizes that no dream needs to be deferred. BlackList: August Wilson is more than just a showcase of the works of this great American playwright, but an opportunity for African American artists to show Richmond that we are also a part of this shared American experience.”
BlackList co-creator, Carolyn Meade adds: “This flagship event will employ Wilson’s skill for enlightenment through exposure and juxtaposition. Each piece from his American Century Cycle will be ushered by the music of another, often under-appreciated artist. Attendees will walk away with knowledge of artists that celebrate the black experience, as well as outlets to explore them. The event bears further fruit, as all proceeds are purposed to providing at least one outstanding African American student with a scholarship to pursue higher education in the theatre arts.”
Carolyn Meade, Blacklist co-Creator
As part of this celebration, on October 17th, TheatreLAB welcomes their #weRVA Community Partner, The Conciliation Project, to host a workshop (10am-Noon; STORYTELLING: an oral tradition) and panel discussion, (1pm-3pm; “The Ground on Which I Stand: the Black Aesthetic”) led by Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates. Honoring the exquisite storytelling of the dramatist August Wilson in a workshop where we share stories from an African American cultural tradition. Participants will then be given some tools to develop their own stories, narrative monologues, or contemporary parables in a workshop format and then have the opportunity to share as inspired. Admission for the workshop is a $10 suggested donation, while the lunchtime panel will be free to the public.
TheatreLAB’s Director of Community Outreach, Heather Falks adds: “TheatreLAB is dedicated to using the theatre arts to initiate conversation by connecting with our community. The #weRVA initiative provides an opportunity for artists and patrons alike to engage in respectful discourse and learn from one another. With our newest program, BlackList, TheatreLAB is committed to providing a safe space to delve into the history and current state of American Theatre and the role of African American artists.”
The Conciliation Project’s Artistic Director, Dr. Tawnya Pettiford-Wates adds: “TheatreLAB’s commitment to community engagement and inclusion has now been demonstrated in the creation of BlackList as a part of the company’s ongoing programming. Richmond has a very deep and complex racial history. It is a city where there is a large African American population and yet when one visits most of the local theaters and arts venues in town, you would think the demographics of this city has very few Black citizens. It is not that the African American community has little interest in the arts or artistic endeavors, no. It has more to do with the work being presented and those who are engaged in its presentation. There has not been a real effort made to embrace and include artistic offerings that speak to the communities of color that make up and surround RVA. Connection to cultural location and one’s origins contribute immeasurably to the ability one has to embrace the arts and artistic expression. I applaud this new endeavor and hope that other arts organizations see it as an example to be followed in the future.”
All press and interview requests should be directed to Artistic Director, Deejay Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org); to sign up for the workshop on October 17th, email Director of Community Outreach, Heather Falks (email@example.com). For more information about the rest of TheatreLAB’s productions and programming, visit TheatreLABrva.org