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I admit it! I don’t know much about the DC Black Theatre Festival! Because, well, this is the first one ever!
No, it’s deeper than that. I don’t know much about black theater at all, actually. I know Paul Robeson is a theater great of revolutionary impact who was black. I am aware that many actors consider roles in theater to be more “true” to the acting profession. That’s what I’ve heard…
My impression is that Tyler Perry has been pretty much crowned the king of the American black theater. That’s a turnoff for me. In the ads for anything I ever see that the brother produces portraying black life, nothing ever comes off as flattering of black people or the black experience. I hate the extra-over-the-top stereotype-enriching “art” that gets promoted as black life in America. It’s probably why I have not gone to see the movie Precious yet. I’m just not interested in another artistic production on how fucked up black people’s lives are or can be.
I don’t know if there won’t be an ounce of that kind of “coon” portrayal of the black experience at the DCBTF, but I do know some of the playwrights whose work will be featured over the next 10 days. And I know some nurturing, conscious art will be present, and judging from some titles and descriptions of the other more than 70 theater works taking place during the DCBTF, there are other’s works worth breaking my neck to check. For that I am most appreciative, and have made a commitment to get out and catch at least the local artists’ productions. Here are a few notable DMV playwrights works I’m interested in checking out:
- Princess Best-Nichols’ Breakthrough, 8 p.m. Aug. 6 at the Ossie Davis Stage at the Warehouse Theater. $15.
- Empress Joyner’s The Ass Chronicles, 2 p.m. Aug 1, 8 p.m. Augu. 6, and 2 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Beah Richards Stage at Joe’s Movement Emporium. $15.
- Charniece Fox’s For Colored Girls,8 p.m. Aug. 6 and 7 at the Paul Robeson Stage at Mount Vernon UMC. $15.
- Kymone Freeman’s God is on the Devil’s Payroll, 2 and 8 p.m. Aug. 8 at the Lloyd Richard Stage at Atlas Performing Arts Center. $15.
- Kobie Nichols’ Merser Piece Meets O, 8 p.m. Aug. 4 at the Paul Robeson Stage at Mount Vernon UMC. $15.
I apologize if there are other local producers and directors who I have failed to list above. I know as an artist that it’s so important to get the recognition from your peer groups in festivals of this magnitude.
So, in addition and with no less exception, congratulations and thanks to all the actresses, actors, production staff, and hosting venues that have brought Chocolate City its first ever DC Black Theatre Festival. I tip my glass to its success, and look forward to seeing you in the seats!
The DC Black Theatre Festival, Aug. 1-8, various locations. /