LOGAN CENTER FOR THE ARTS PRESENTS ACTRESS/PRODUCER
VAL GRAY WARD IN ONE WOMAN SHOW
“MY SOUL IS A WITNESS”
Homecoming Performance Sunday, November 1, 2015at Logan Center
**ONE NIGHT ONLY**
“Actress, producer, cultural activist and internationally known theater personality Val Gray Ward headlines the one-woman show, “My Soul is a Witness,” for one night only in a dramatic homecoming performance Sunday, November 1, 2015. “My Soul is a Witness” will feature the works of James Weldon Johnson, Langston Hughes, Mari Evans, Richard Wright and other African American literary giants, 17 characters, music and love poetry. This special performance is presented by the Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts in partnership with the DuSable Museum of African American History. It will take place at 5:30 pm at the Logan Center, located at 915 E. 60th Street. General admission is $20/$10 students; $5 discount for groups of 10 or more. Tickets may be purchased at tickets.uchicago.edu or by calling 773-702-ARTS.”
Star Studded special guests are musical director and arranger Robert “Baabe” Irving and Emmy Award-winning vocalist Joan Collaso. Ward will be introduced by renowned poet Sonia Sanchez and welcomed home by Julieanna Richardson of The Historymakers.
“Val Gray Ward has made major contributions to the cultural life of Chicago and America through her work as dramatist, founder and principal creative force behind the Kuumba Theatre,” said Bill Michel, executive director of the Logan Center. “We are delighted to welcome her back home to Chicago by sponsoring this special presentation.”
Austin area Playwright wins Atlanta Black Theatre Festival award for her Black Lives Matter themed play!
Multiple-award winning playwright Jeanette Hill has garnered another award. This time for the Festival Favorite Award Best Reader’s Theatre Series for her black lives matter themed play, ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ at the 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) held at the historic Morehouse College from October 8th through the 11th.
Jeanette Hill is the founder and executive director of JWHill Productions LLC, a creative arts organization. JWHill Productions LLC uses the stage to tell original stories depicting the resilience of the African American people, spirit and culture. This is Ms. Hill’s fourth award in the last three years for her plays.
The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival is fast becoming one of the premier outlets for quality black theater for audiences, actors and playwrights across the nation. In its fourth year, guided by executive director, Toni Simmons Henson, it continues to grow in both numbers and quality of productions. The 2015 Atlanta Black Theatre Festival received submissions from forty-two states and two countries.
Ms. Hill was honored to have AspireTV, whose principal owner is Ervin ‘Magic’ Johnson as the presenting sponsor for her staged reading and panel discussion. The play’s theme resonated with AspireTV because of its timely and relevant subject matter. ASPiRE is dedicated to deliver enlightening and entertaining programming to African-American families that reflect positive images of the African-American community.
The staged reading was followed by an informative panel discussion, ‘The Conversation We Need to Have’. The panelists included -National Order of Black Law Enforcement (NOBLE) member Rafiq Ahmad, Special Agent in Charge of the Department of Labor, Office of the Inspector General Atlanta Regional Office; Timothy Tukes, a junior at Morehouse College and a 2015 All-Star Student Ambassador for the White House Initiative on HBCUs; Andre Minkins, Associate Professor at Winston-Salem State University; Reemo Rod, actor, co-owner of 3511 Media; Trebor Randle, Special Agent in Charge Georgia Bureau of Investigation-Child Fatality Review Unit and playwright Jeanette Hill. Clark Atlanta University instructor Eric J. Little, actor, director and writer moderated the panel.
Don’t Call Me Brother! addresses the impact of current events on individuals who carry the dual citizenship of being African American and working in law enforcement.
‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ is the story of recently promoted Assistant Police Chief Andrew Merritt, whose close ties to the police force and to the black community come into question with the suspicious death of a black youth by a police officer, he is at a crossroad. Where is his loyalty? Each side wonders if they can trust him? More importantly, who can he trust?
It takes an amazing group of talented actors to bring a story to life and the ‘Brother’ cast did just that!
Derrell Lester, Eddie Oliver, Curt Keller Williams, Schelle Purcell, Tiffany Roberts (director), Kelvin Rowe, Noah Artis and Stephanie J. Williams.
What people are saying about ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!:
“This play captures exactly both the internal and external challenges that African Americans in executive law enforcement positions live with everyday. ”
Patrick Ockletree, Assistant Chief, Austin Police Department
“Especially enjoyed the way the family dynamic was shown in the play. We seldom think about the impact these situations have on police officers of color. ”
This play should be seen in every major city in the United States!
Steve Savage, KAXI-FM Community Radio Station Manager
“Don’t Call Me Brother! is a voice carrying a message that some may have missed. It encourages us all to think critically about our role in creating the change we want to see in our community.”
Charles Robinson, Director Travis County Adult Probation
I am excited about the Atlanta Black Theatre Festival this year! Not only has my play ‘Don’t Call Me Brother!’ been selected as a special event for the ABTF but AspireTV has chosen to be the presenting sponsor for it!
The Atlanta Black Theatre Festival (ABTF) is fast becoming one of the premiere outlets for quality black theater audiences, actors and playwrights across the nation. In its fifth year the ABTF continues to grow in size and the quality of its productions.
AspireTV is dedicated to deliver enlightening and entertaining programming to African American families that reflect positive images of the African American community. Aspire also creates new and unique opportunities for the next generation of the African American creative community.
Don’t Call Me Brother! addresses the impact of current events on individuals who carry the dual membership of being African American and being in law enforcement. A panel talkback, ‘The Conversation We Need to Have’ with community leaders will be held immediately following the reading to discuss possible solutions to bridging the gap of distrust between our communities and law enforcement.
‘Don’t Call Me Brother! is the story of Andrew Merritt, a high-ranking African American police officer with ties to both the police force and the black community. With the death of a black youth by a police officer under questionable circumstances and his recent promotion, he is at a crossroad. Where does he place his loyalty? With his family who has a long history of civil rights activism or with the police department where he has devoted twenty-four years of service. All eyes are on him.
Another black youth has been killed by a police officer under questionable circumstances. Recently promoted Andrew Merritt’s first task as Chief of the Community Liaison Department is to restore his former community’s confidence in the police department. At the same time he attempts to maintain the respect of his activist family and his fellow police officers. His loyalty is in question from both sides.
Is this new job a step up…or a set up?
Join us Sunday, September 27th at 2pm:
The Boyd Vance Theatre
1165 Angelina Street
Austin, TX 78702
Doors open at 1:30pm
Light refreshments will be served
This is a dramatized stage reading followed by a panel discussion from community members.
I am always excited when I see the natural order of things-art should reflect life and life should reflect art! I also believe that as artists we have an obligation to not only entertain but enlighten and educate. The Penumbra Summer Program appears to have this on lock!
Acknowledging that the teens of today will be our leaders of tomorrow and we need to treat, teach and train them as though they were, the Penumbra program tackles the issues of social justice and activism head first-without adding sugar. This is wonderful because often we don’t credit our young people with being savvy enough to handle tough life issues-even when they are facing them every day!
An excerpt from the article written by Marianne Combs of MPR News about the summer arts program that is hosted by Penumbra Theatre:
St. Paul’s Penumbra Theatre is known for being one of the premiere African-American theaters in the country. Less well known is its summer youth program, which teaches teenagers not just about acting and directing but about race, class and other social justice issues.
“This is a completely different kind of education,” Khadar said. “I’m a lot more mature, socially aware. I want everyone that I love to go through Penumbra — it’s amazing.”
The Summer Institute began more than 20 years ago, but Penumbra co-artistic director Sarah Bellamy relaunched the program in 2006 with a new focus on social justice and activism. The theater says it is preparing its students for lives as “artist-activists.”
“I think the end result of students going through this program is deeper critical consciousness, civic engagement, tremendous empathy and passion for creating social change inside their communities,” she said.
Attending the National Black Theatre Festival (NBTF) for the first time was the equivalent of a kid’s first trip to Disney World. I was in total awe of the people, sights and sounds as I stood on the Holy Ground of Theater. In addition to the plethora of great theater that I saw at the NBTF in Winston-Salem, NC, I experienced a sense of family. Everyone I met shared a love of theater, either from the stage, back stage or in the audience.
It was a whirlwind experience! The National Black Theatre Festival is the grandfather of black theater! To many it sets the standard by which all other black theater is judged. I always wondered if this was an accurate or even fair comparison. I am talking about the quality of the work not the genre.
I had been told that I would see any and everyone that I hadn’t seen for years on stage or television and they were right! And even better-they were all personable. Very nice! Can you imagine meeting an actor that you’ve admired over the years and he or she is asking you what play you are going to see?
While I have to admit I have seen some great, quality urban theater. (Please! Traditional theater purists stop screaming!! There is room for us all!) The theater I witnessed last week was simply amazing! The National Black Theatre Festival is more than worth the trip. Put it on your calendar for 2017! You won’t be sorry!
I don’t know exactly when Tyora Moody came up with the idea to bring together women who achieved success in a number of different industries to offer advice to women who thinking about or who may have already started on the road to entrepreneurship but “When Women Become Business Owners” is pure genius!
Readers will get practical, first hand information on not only the ups but also the downs of being in business but also steps to sustain your business, your personal life and sometimes even your sanity from women who have been on the front lines!
When Women Become Business Owners will become a ‘go to’ manual for those who are looking for advice, strategy and encouragement in this faith-based chronicle of life though a business lens.
I am honored to be included the first of the anthology series of ‘When Women Become Business Owners’ and to be in the company of such wonderful women who were kind enough to share their knowledge and experiences.
I believe people will refer to it often as they navigate the roller coaster ride of business.
The Blood Quilt, begins performances at Arena Stage tonight. The show centers on four disconnected sisters who reunite after their mother’s death. At their childhood home off the coast of Georgia, the sisters begin to create a family quilt in their mother’s honor. When this meeting turns into a reading of their mother’s will, they are all presented with a troubling inheritance. Their “blood quilt” of history and ritual has the power to bind them together or tear them apart forever.
Written by Katori Hall and directed by Kamilah Forbes, the show features Afi Bijou as Zambia, Caroline Clay as Gio, Meeya Davis as Amber, Nikiya Mathis as Cassan, and Tonye Patano as Clementine.
The creative team includes Michael Carnahan (set design), Dede Ayite (costume design), Michael Gilliam (lighting design), Timothy M. Thompson (sound design), Toshi Reagon (composer and vocal consultant), and Kurt Hall (stage manager).
“Writing the play was a transformative experience for me,” says playwright Katori Hall, “driving me to learn about the rich, cultural heritage of African-American quilters that extends even throughout my own family. I love each and every one of the Jernigan sisters as if they were my own, and I’m excited to share this new piece with D.C.-area audiences.”
Through her writing, playwright Katori Hall says that she represents the stories of black women.Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, playwright Katori Hall is burning up the boards with the dramatic legacy of the New South. In 2010, she became the first black woman to win the Olivier Award for Best New Play for The Mountaintop, a fictional depiction of a conversation between Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and a maid at the Lorraine Hotel the night before King’s assassination. A member of Arena Stage’s inaugural class of American Voices New Play resident playwrights, Hall recently sat down with Capitol File to discuss the world premiere of The Blood Quilt, an all-female ensemble piece about family and inheritance.
This fall, 44 theater companies are committed to presenting new works by women, and Arena Stage is at the vanguard. Four of its nine shows this season are premieres, including The Blood Quilt.
New plays are everything. Yes, everyone does Shakespeare, the oldies and the goodies. You have to do A Raisin in the Sun—it is beautiful, perfect. But we need to make room for the new Lorraine Hansberrys. Often, new plays are seen as a risk. There’s an assumption that theatergoers are older and don’t want to see new plays, but that’s not the case. They are hungry to be revitalized by the new.
Tell us about The Blood Quilt.
I reckon I’ve been working on this story all my life. The quilting bee becomes a reading of the recently deceased mother’s will, and the drama ensues as the sisters need to decide what things they need to keep in order to move into their lives’ third act.
My grandmother is a great quilter. She grew up in a sharecropper’s family. She gathered other people’s scraps to make her art. She has an uncanny eye for quality, color, and form. Quilting is her outlet, much like writing is mine. She showed me a quilt she’s been working on for 68 years—wind cannot get through these stitches. I had to have a story in my repertoire about how you can put your past into the cloth to get it out of yourself.
You are the youngest of four sisters. How much of this story is your own?
The play is not just influenced by the interactions I have with my sisters. My mom and dad both have a lot of sisters, and I wanted to put that onstage: the language of women who come together to be uplifted by their sisters—blood relatives or metaphorical sisters. As we grow older our friends become our sisters. This is my anti-August Wilson play: I wanted to put a bunch of women onstage and let them speak.
Recently Cicely Tyson said finding roles as an older black woman is a struggle. You trained as an actress—are you writing for yourself?
I am writing to tell black women’s stories. We are being erased—quite literally in the streets. Not being represented is a murder as well. I can combat the seemingly un-combatable struggle by representing the stories of black women.
You are 33. How do you get it all done?
I recently had a come-to-Jesus moment, and realized it was time for a personal assistant. I was beginning to operate on the edge of myself: I have a new play in my life; the greatest creation of all, a child; and I’m rehearsing two plays. I must say my husband is the only reason I can write so much. You have to marry the right man, but if you don’t, you find the right day care or the right caretaker. Women find the help they need. The Blood Quilt runs April 24–June 7 at Arena Stage, 1101 Sixth St. SW, 202-488-3300