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National Black Theatre Announces Newest “I Am Soul” Workshop Productions

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre [NBT] announces the two workshop productions of its 51st Season “SOUL Journey: NBT Beyond Walls”: Bayano by Darrel Alejandro Holnes, directed by Jeffrey Page, and Retreat by Tracey Conyer Lee, directed by Zhailon Levingston, running March 11-15 and April 1-5 respectively. The productions are developed and commissioned through NBT’s I AM SOUL Playwrights Residency, part of NBT’s Soul Series L.A.B. (Liberating Artistic Bravery), the institution’s contemporary residency program helping Black playwrights, directors and producers to create and develop new work using NBT’s pedagogy. Tickets for both workshops are now on sale.

Inspired by Homer’s The OdysseyBayano explores the history, spirituality, and liberation of Bayano, an enslaved African king who led the largest slave rebellion in Panama in the 16th century against the Spaniards. An imaginative journey through the treacherous Atlantic Ocean, the epic tale follows Bayano and the Yoruba deities and gods who intercede on his quest to return to his family in Yorubaland. Joining the cast is Mikayla Bartholomew (Femi), Jimmy Brooks (Dike), Ashley Bufkin(Sindara), Danaya Esperanza (Yemaya), Jamal James(Babatunde), and Garrett Turner (Bayano). The creative team includes Ramaj Jamar (Set/Costumes), Hoon Lee (Lighting), Mauricio Escamilla (Sound), and Belynda Hardin (Production Stage Manager).

Retreat asserts that when justice fails us, we all do time. Who gets exonerated? Whose appeal is heard? And who chooses solitary confinement? Inspired by a true story, Retreat’s concrete walls and barbed wire fencing infest the prison of our minds, of our reactive life choices, and our inability to live free. The cast and design team will be announced at a later date.

Bayano and Retreat will conclude Holnes’ and Lee’s 18-month residencies.

Launched in 2012, the I AM SOUL Playwrights Residency is the nation’s only program dedicated to Black playwrights, whose work demonstrates exceptional artistic merit and excellence in the theatrical field, with a commitment to production. Designed as a dream MFA program, this eighteen (18) month residency has commissioned and developed new works such as Her Portmantouby Mfoniso Udofia and The First Deep Breath by Lee Edward Colston II. The program also seeks to unleash the soul of a playwright on the page so that they can develop, hone and explore new ways of artistic expression in a safe, supported and transformative environment. With I AM SOUL, NBT seeks to strengthen the artistic relationship between Black theatrical institutions and Black playwrights in order to re-establish Black theatrical institutions as the foremost supporters and producers of new works created by Black playwrights. Past residents include Dennis A. Allen IIAngelica ChériColstonEric Micha HolmesDerek Lee McPhatterNambi E. KelleyAurin Squire, and Udofia. Current residents are Oya Mae Duchess-DavisDarrel Alejandro HolnesTracey Conyer Lee, and Tylie Shider.

Tickets for Bayano and Retreat are now on sale. Shows are Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2:00 p.m., and Sunday matinee at 4:00 p.m.

Tickets are $20.00 general admission and can be purchased online at www.nationalblacktheatre.org, by calling NBT directly at (212) 722-3800 or at NBT’s Box Office, open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday. National Black Theatre is located at 2031 Fifth Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets in Harlem. (Take the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 subway to 125 th Street.) Follow NBT on Facebook (www.facebook.com/NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).

About the Author

New York Trend is a weekly news publication that focuses on issues and lifestyles of the African & Caribbean American communities throughout the New York metropolitan area and Nassau and Suffolk Counties of Long Island. It is a respected and well recognized news publication that has been in existence since 1989. Owner, Publisher and Executive Director, Dr. Teresa Taylor Williams has been at the helm of this award-winning publication since its inception. New York Trend continues to be the only black woman-owned, metropolitan newspaper in New York and Long island. New York Trend is the largest black-owned newspaper throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.

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