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African Diasporic Network: Black Theatre Circuit 

With The African-American Shakespeare Company 


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) and Eve  Graves (Clark Atlanta University) at 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. 

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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.

The CRAFT Institute at ATHE 2023 Annual Conference

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