The National Black Theatre Announces 55th Season Theme “NBT Beyond Walls: Love, A Ritual Of Repair” 

The National Black Theatre (NBT) proudly announces the full line up for its 55th season – 2022-2023.

All this on the heels of announcing Learn To Love Yourself: Silent Disco and Portrait Series that kicks off programming August 13. Building on the enormous success of its last season, which included such works as the Pulitzer Prize-winning Fat Ham, NBT invites audiences to experience another powerful lineup of exciting and thought-provoking productions and events. Themed “NBT Beyond Walls: Love, A Ritual of Repair,” this season uplifts and pays special attention to the healing power of love housed in the Black arts and the inspiring creatives telling the complexity of stories that exist within the Black Community. This season leads off with three world premiere productions in partnership with three amazing theaters in NYC.  And for the first time, the institution will activate its hi-house residency with the Chelsea Factory.

“I was raised by a mother who deeply believed in the revolutionary power of Love to shift, shape, and change the world. Love in action is the most ancient ritual of repair. Powerful enough to mend hearts and heal past traumas; a strong enough currency to revitalize communities. This season all of NBT’s programming is dedicated to the catalytic vibration of Love as a ritual offering by our diverse roster of artists to the communities we all love so dear,” said Sade Lythcott, CEO National Black Theatre. 

NBT’s 3rd Beyond Walls itineran season will launch with the workshop production, of I AM SOUL Resident Playwright TyLie Shider’s beautifully evocative, The Gospel Woman, directed by Adrienne D. Williams.  The Gospel Woman tells the story of the Fowlers, a ministry family in Plainfield, New Jersey circa 1972, following the 1967 race riots.  Sisters Ruth and Orpah Fowler must find a way to set aside their differences and a feud stemming from a demo that helped launch the younger Orpah’s, successful award-winning R&B career, if they are to help their aging father, keep the church from foreclosure while healing and re-connecting as a family unit. Performances run November 9-13, 2022 at the Chelsea Factory.

Continuing the theme of loss and recovery, and the ritual of repair, is the world premiere of Amani, written by a.k. payne and directed by Josiah Davis, current Soul Series Directing Resident.  Co-produced in partnership with Rattlestick Playwrights Theater, this is a story of hope and one father’s dream to build a rocket ship with his young daughter Amani; to take her away to a place beyond the gangs that took his first love’s life, where there are no prisons to take Black Boys’ best years, protecting her from the ugliness of this world.  As she enters adulthood, Amani’s begins the search for her own voice and her own dreams.  Will she make it to the moon?  Performances run February 6 – March 5, 2023, at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater.

 (pray) is a boundary-pushing dance-theater work created by Princess Grace Award-winning choreographer, director, and playwright nicHi Douglas, with music by the extraordinary Starr Busby and JJJJJerome Ellis.  A co-production with Ars Nova, this world premiere musical is inspired by the structure of a Sunday Baptist church service, (pray) combines song, text, and dance to create a joy-filled healing experience for audiences and artists alike. It opens with an ensemble of twelve intergenerational Black women entering the sacred space; greeting each other and audiences; and flows through the rhythms of hymns, readings, rituals, and offerings, with comedy throughout.  This production is scheduled for March 9 – April 8, 2023, at Greenwich House.

Next up is the theatrical world premiere of Bernarda’s Daughters, written by Diane Exavier and directed by Dominique Rider, a graduate of NBT’S Soul Series Directing Residency program.  

A co-production with the award-winning theater company, The New Group.  Bernada’s Daughters is a story told through the eyes of the five Abellard sisters who take refuge in their family home during a sweltering summer in Flatbush, amid gentrifying construction and street protests.  

Simmering in the loss of their father and their neighborhood, they clash over how to contend with the legacy of their Haitian parents in a city that is no longer theirs. 

The story confronts issues of class, race, gentrification, and addresses the question of a woman’s place in a rapidly changing world.

The play, inspired by the classic, House of Bernarda Alba by Federico García Lorca, is scheduled for performances May 2 – June 18, 2023 in the Romulus Linney Courtyard Theatre at the Pershing Square Signature Center.

“Love is the foundation.  Love is a force that artists have continually used to keep the lights on in the midnight hour and these works this season are dedicated to celebrating that moment in the midst of the darkness.  We have crafted a LOVE note forged out of lessons learned since 1968 from Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, who provides us with space during our 55th season.  A series of connected events has become a ritual that invites us to have a conversation around repairing the spaces that as a society and a community need mending,” says Jonathan McCrory, Executive Artistic Director of National Black Theatre.

Rounding out the 55th season, NBT will conclude with a new play by Fedna Jacquet, I AM SOUL Resident Playwright.  

Her play, Black Mother Lost Daughter (BMLD), offers a searing and haunting look at the trauma of loss as the playwright challenges us to consider the gap between justice and responsibility. 

In her life, Queen painted vivid portraits that captured the truth of her subjects, but when she is killed by police, her sister Princess must keep her memory alive and her mother afloat. 

This is an honest review of how a national reckoning echoes in the lives of three women. Spring/Summer performance dates (at the Chelsea Factory) will be announced at a later date, along with more information on the workshop production.

To learn more visit https://www.nationalblacktheatre.org/2022-2023-season.

 NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE (NBT), the nation’s first revenue-generating Black arts complex, was founded in 1968 by the late visionary artist Dr. Barbara Ann Teer.

NBT is the longest-running Black theatre in New York City, one of the oldest theatres founded and consistently operated by a woman of color in the nation, and most recently included in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

NBT’s core mission is to produce transformational theatre that helps to shift the inaccuracies around African Americans’ cultural identity by telling authentic stories of Black life.

As an alternative learning environment, NBT uses theatre arts as a way to educate, enrich, entertain, empower, and inform the national conscience around current social issues impacting our communities.

Under the leadership of Sade Lythcott, CEO, and Jonathan McCrory, executive artistic director, NBT helps re-shape a more inclusive American theatre field by providing an artistically rigorous and culturally sensitive space for artists of color to experiment, develop and present new work.

Working with trailblazing artists from Nona Hendrix to Jeremy O. Harris, and helping to launch the careers, most recently, of artists such as Dominique Morisseau, Radha Blank, Mfoniso Udofia, Saheem Ali, Lee Edward Colston II, and Ebony Noelle Golden, and incubating Obie Award-winning companies like The Movement Theatre Company and Harlem9’s 48Hours in Harlem, NBT’s cultural production remains unparalleled.

Located in the heart of Harlem, NBT welcomes more than 90,000 visitors annually; has produced 300+ original works; won an Obie award and 56 Audelco Awards; received a CEBA Award of Merit; and has been nominated for multiple Drama Desk awards.

NBT is supported by grants from Booth Ferris Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, New York Community Trust, Shubert Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, William Randolph Hearst Foundation, City Council of New York, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts, and private donations.

Visit nationalblacktheatre.org or follow NBT on Facebook (@NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).

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