We are reimagining a 21st century Black theatre and performance Circuit that can help further disseminate and sustain the vitality of Black theatre and performance across platforms by encouraging Black Theatres to:
1. Exercise creative control and economic liberation in Black storytelling to generate alternative revenue streams while serving the needs of local communities;
2. Create and present performance opportunities in conjunction with in and support of national and international tours;
3. Utilise performance as a platform for connecting and exploring the creative potential of a networked community.
4. Facilitate sustainable collaborations with other black theatres throughout the African Diaspora
5. Maximize the opportunity for the scholarship and knowledge exchange across the community
Milestones in Black American Theatre and Performance
editors/publisher: Monica W. Ndounou & J. Eve Graves/Taylor and Francis
Milestones in Black American Theatre and Performance is a groundbreaking collection of essays that celebrate 200 years of Black theatre and performance in the United States. Utilizing a theoretical and organizational framework grounded in the wisdom tradition of African deep thought, this volume of essays highlights the historical achievements and contemporary relevance of Black theatre artists and Black theatre institutions. Through data collection designed to identify the most impactful historical and contemporary milestones in Black theatre and performance for Black theatre scholars and practitioners, we will demonstrate in each chapter how these collective milestones have impacted specific communities, institutions and individual careers that have contributed to the survival of Black theatre into the 21st century.
As a result, the book will illuminate the need for systemic change in the arts and culture world laid bare by the converging pandemics of racial injustice and COVID-19 and their devastating impact on global theatre industries, especially Black theatres and performers already plagued by racial disparities in American theatre and society for centuries.
Black Professional Theatre Origins and Black Performance of the “Classics” (INSTITUTIONS)
Milestones and Connections: Black theatre matters: Ira Aldridge, James Hewlett and the legacy of the African Company/African Grove Theatre, Georgia Douglas Johnson’s S Street Salon, Playwriting Contests in The Crisis Magazine and Opportunity Magazines, West coast Black theatres (i.e. African-American Shakespeare Company, etc.).
Historical Narrative Cycles on Black Life and Black Death (PLAY TEXTS/GENRES)
Milestones and Connections: The Harlem Renaissance then and now: traveling tent and medicine shows, anti-lynching plays (i.e. the inaugural 1991 staged production of Angelina Weld Grimke’s play Rachel at Spelman College and the 2016 KC Melting Pot production), original works and adaptations of historic works.
Black Stage Designers and Directors (ARTISTRY, THE BUSINESS, THE FUTURE)
Milestones and Connections: Individual artists that have achieved significant milestones as designers and technicians, directors and stage managers whose careers have made historical impact and are shaping the future of Black production
Black Musicals and/or Chicago Theatre’s Black legacies
Milestones and Connections: Black musicals and original work, Black theatre history in Chicago and the midwest (i.e. FTP Negro Units, The Pekin Theatre, Black Patti’s Troubadaors at World’s Columbian Exposition, etc.) formal training in Chicago, Black Ensemble Theatre, Chicago, IL, Lorraine Hansberry and A Raisin in the Sun.
Economics of Black Theatre/Boston and New England (EARLY PERIODS or BLACK ARTS/BLACK POWER or NOW)
Milestones and Connections: Racial wealth gap impact on Black theatre development, Black theatre history in Boston and New England (i.e. William Wells Brown, the Elma Lewis School of Fine Arts, the New England premier of plays like Antoinette Nwandu’s Pass Over, etc.) Individual Black Artists who consciously inserted the aesthetics of Black performance in mainstream and culturally specific modes of Theatre/performance training (i.e. Professor/Actor Adrienne McNeil Herndon at Atlanta University; Dr. Anne Margaret Cooke Reid at Spelman College, Hampton Institute, Howard University, Ntozake Shange’s transformative creation of the choreopoem as a means to give voice to the systemic and cultural oppression of Black Women).
Black Arts, Black Power & the Black Theatre Training Programs (CASE STUDIES OF THEATRE TRAINING AND ACADEMIC PROGRAMS) Milestones and Connections: Ellen Stewart’s La Mama Experimental Theatre Club, Vernell Lillie’s Kuntu Theatre at the University of Pittsburgh, Dr. Winona Lee Fletcher (Kentucky State University and Indiana University)---George C. Wolfe, Margaret Wilkerson at Berkeley University, Ethel Pitts Walker, Maidie Norman well known film actress and innovator of Black Theatre Pedagogy at UCLA, Llyod Richards at Yale University, The Negro Ensemble Company, The Black Arts Institute at The Billie Holiday Theatre.
Amplifying Black Voices from the South and Midwest (REGIONAL REPRESENTATION IN WRITING AND ACTING)
Milestones and Connections: Jomandi Theatre and Just Us Theatre Companies in Atlanta, GA, Hattiloo Theatre, Memphis, TN, Free Southern Black Theatre, Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre, Tupac Amaru Shakur Center for the Arts, Zora! Festival Zora Neale Hurston Festival of the Arts and Humanities, National Black Theatre Festival in Winston, Salem, NC, Tyler Perry and the Urban Circuit.
Staging Black Stories through Music and Ritual (CRAFT OF ACTING, WRITING NEW FORMS AND TECHNIQUES),
Milestones and Connections: Plantation performances, early Black musicals, Southern Black Theaters, Black church dramas, Dr. Tonea Stewart, Theatre of Being, Frank Silvera, Paul Carter Harrison, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Vinnette Carroll and Urban Arts Corps.
Historically Black Colleges and Universities Influence on Black Theatre and Performance Legacies (HARLEM RENAISSANCE TO NOW)
Milestones and Connections: Clark Atlanta University and the Atlanta University Center (Spelman and Morehouse), Howard University, Dr. Anne M. Cooke (Reid) and Adrienne Herndon, Owen Dodson, Alabama State University, Florida A&M University, Fort Valley State University, Hampton University, Norfolk State University, North Carolina A& T University, Savannah State University and others.
We are all connected: Black Theatre and Performance Networks and Coalitions
Milestones and Connections: Black Theatre organizations and networks: The Frogs, The Southern Association of Dramatic Speech Arts (SADSA), National Association of Dramatic Speech Arts (NADSA), Federal Theatre Project Negro Units, Black Theatre Network, 21st Century Black theatre organizations and events.
The Black Seed and Beyond
This closing chapter will discuss the impact of the converging pandemics of COVID and racial injustice on Black theatre and performance thereby taking a snapshot of the moment in which this text is written. Drawing from lessons learned in historical moments of crisis, many of which will be covered in previous chapters, the epilogue highlights selected models that reimagine paths forward for the future.
Please send a 300-word abstract (Word file) and a short bio to both Monica W. Ndounou (Dartmouth College) firstname.lastname@example.org and Eve Graves (Clark Atlanta University) at email@example.com before the 1st of January 2022. Notification of acceptance will be sent to contributors no later than the 31st of January, and the deadline for full chapters (entries should be 6,000 words) will be the 1st of May 2022.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions. We are looking forward to receiving your proposals.
Dr. Monica W. Ndounou (Co-Editor) is an Associate Professor of Theater at Dartmouth College and the founding Executive Director of The CRAFT Institute. She is also the past President of the Black Theatre Association (BTA) (2016-2018), Vice President of Advocacy for the Association for Theatre in Higher Education (ATHE) (2019-2021) and serves on the board of The August Wilson Society. She is a founding member of the National Advisory Committee of The Black Seed, a national strategic plan to create impact and thrivability for Black theater institutions and initiatives. Her interdisciplinary research projects span a broad range of topics. She is the award-winning author of Shaping the Future of African American Film: Color-coded Economics and the Story Behind the Numbers (Rutgers University Press). Professor Ndounou is currently working on several projects including but not limited to a book and multi-media project, Acting Your Color: The CRAFT, Power and Paradox of Acting for Black Americans which explores black American contributions to developing acting theories and practices. She is also an actor and director who has worked on a range of projects.
Dr. Eve Graves (Co-Editor)is a graduate of Spelman College. She began her professional academic career at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, VA., where she received several awards, published several articles, and was elected to head a national professional organization. Dr. Graves was awarded a Teaching Fellowship from the Carnegie Center for Teaching and Learning at Stanford University. At the end of her final residency at the Carnegie Foundation, Dr. Graves decided to pursue work as an intercultural pedagogue by accepting a teaching position at the prestigious Xiamen University in China. She lived and successfully taught Western Theatre History and Literature in China for four and a half years.