African-American theater groups from New England to Texas will unite Monday with one voice to call attention their plight and raise funds for support, presenting James Baldwin’s Amen Corner, all on the same night.
This is the second year for Project 1 Voice, launched in 2010 by New York-based stage actor Erich McMillan-McCall. In the first Project 1 Voice production of Trouble in Mind in 2011, 18 theater companies participated. This year, 25 theaters are participating, McMillan-McCall said.
“This is a day of solidarity. It’s about bringing voices together to preserve the legacy and tradition of black theater and the black playwright,” McMillan-McCall told BlackAmericaweb.com.
“Project 1 Voice is part fund raising, part audience development, part raising awareness,” McMillan-McCall said. “Each year they (African-American theaters) are dwindling on our watch.”
He came up with the idea of doing one play across the country on one day, a couple of years ago after returning from a touring production of Dirty Dancin’ and finding it difficult to land other roles.
“I was unemployed. There was a lack of work, and I wasn’t the only black actor facing that problem,” he said. “Instead of just complaining, I wanted to do something about it. I started calling theater companies across the country. Most of them didn’t know me from Adam. But I told them about my idea. Eighteen said yes.”
The survival and support of black theater in America is imperative, McMillan-McCall says. “We are the ones who can best tell our stories,” he said.
While black actors and playwrights have gained prominence in mainstream theater, African-American theater fuels Broadway and it tells America the African-American story, said Marcia Pendleton, founder of Walk Tall Girl Production and a specialist in marketing black theater in New York.
“Without black theater, you would not have stars such as Samuel L. Jackson and Denzel Washington. They all came out of black theater,” Pendleton told BlackAmericaweb.com.
She is working with the New York production that will be directed by Walter Dallas, artist in residence at the University of Maryland and a close friend of James Baldwin before his passing in 1987.
“It’s fitting for Project One Voice to present The Amen Corner this year, which marks the 25th year of Baldwin’s passing,” Dallas said. The play captures a picture of African-American life and is told through Baldwin’s unique style of eloquence and culture. It will be presented with a star-filled cast in the Lynch Auditorium at John Jay College.
“Everyone is donating everything for this production,” Dallas told BlackAmericaWeb.com. Money raised through the production will go to benefit several African-American theater groups in the New York area, he said.
The 65-year-old Dallas has worked with both African-American and mainstream theater groups.
When he worked with Centerstage in Baltimore, if there was a shortfall in the budget, the board members sitting around the table would pull out their checkbooks and immediately raise what was needed.
“You would see them pull out the check books and say, ‘you gave $20,000 last time, I’ll do the same,’” he said. “Before you know it, they would have the funds.”
African-American theater companies typically do not have that same kind of deep pocket support, Dallas said.
“Theater presents magic, and it takes a lot of money to make that magic happen,” Dallas said. “The cost of an admission ticket does not cover the cost of putting on a full production.”
Although many of the African-American theaters across the country face financial troubles from time to time, Dallas said he is encouraged by the new voices that continue to emerge in theater and in spoken word.
“We are challenged, but I don’t think we are anywhere near dying,” Dallas said. “We may lose two or three in a year. But as long as that youthful blood is there, our story will be told. It will be preserved.”
Also On Black America Web:
This Week’s Celebrity Instagrams (11/26-12/2)
30 photos Launch gallery
1. Little Legend and Puddy 😍😍😍😍
1 of 30
2. "You on point Phife?" "all the time,Tip". 💥 #bannedfromnormal
2 of 30
3. Vegan! The Impossible burger at Crossroads
3 of 30
4. Lawrence #BeforeandAfterEpisodes 1-4: 184lbs 13% body fatEpisode 8: 196lbs 8% body fat S/O @coachdaveboxing with the works outs and @kildareriordan with the nutrition
4 of 30
5. Jus haaaanngin out
5 of 30
6. Meanwhile back at home in Atlanta GA someone mad they not on the 🛳. 😳
6 of 30
7. No limits... Photo cred: Chris Bridges @ludacris
7 of 30
8. new new
8 of 30
9. Apparently my 260lbs is too much for the actual vines in the Hawaiian jungles to hold me without breaking and me falling hundreds of feet. So for safety purposes, I'm forced to swing thru #Jumanjj on wires strong enough to hold 12 adult buffaloes and 1 adult Rock. #OnSet #Jumanji #IronicallyIEatBuffaloDailyForLunch #MoreManThanNatureKnowsWhatToDoWith
9 of 30
10. hey ma! 🎎#wcw 💙
10 of 30
11. Surprise visit to our factories!!! #GoodAmerican #USA
11 of 30
12 of 30
13. Peachy Keen 🔥✨⚡️
13 of 30
14. If this don't look thankful I don't know what does. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. #UltraBlessed #24kMagic #SweetPotatoFly
14 of 30
15. Late nights @nbcmarlon with the writers... we in here!!!
15 of 30
16. There goes my baaaaaaaaabbbbyyyyy #QueenKingMagic!!! We're up to something! Ira BIG!!! Stay out our buisness -
16 of 30
17. You want to win every game you play but when you come home to these faces... who cares. #ILoveYouGirls best part of my day, everyday!
17 of 30
18. Steady,steady..... full size jenga.. "I got this one "???? Or do I ?
18 of 30
19. Cornrows kind of day 😉@dontaysavoy2 you convinced me and I love. ❤️️
19 of 30
20. #BrotherlyLove #tbt
20 of 30
21 of 30
22. #basel #TeamLOVE @kingcombs
22 of 30
23. Just introduced a special screening of @directher 's groundbreaking (must see) documentary @13thfilm with my brother @themichaelealy | @unitedblackout #blackoutblackfriday
23 of 30
24. Me & Vanessa Williams giving #DuckLips #Pose on the set of #DaytimeDivas @vh1 - Coming Soon to a tv near you. Lol. - My make up done by @makeupsurgeon
24 of 30
25. This picture just makes me wanna praise the Lord, you hear me!!!!!! Yes Lord brotha #TEDDYCAMPBELL What a #man !!! You are everything right on this picture husband ......... #gorgeous #stylish #classy #strong #masculine #king #sexy #debonair #gentlemenstyle And that #bible in your hand just seals the deal for me (probably cause i know that, that is what helped you become just as amazing as you look😘). While my heart and mind experiences the goodness of God at #church on Sundays, my eyes experiences the goodness of Teddy😍. Amen somebody🙌🏽. "Bless the Lord oh my soul and all that is within me bless his holy name" #myman #myhusband #goodman #blackman #dapperman #godlyman #goodfather #mybestfriend
25 of 30
26. Yesterday was my mama's 53rd birthday!!!!! Got to celebrate with her all day. If this is what I have to look forward to I can't wait. Looking like a soft bucket a cocoa butter. Yaaaaaaaaaas! 😍😍😍 love you mommy!
26 of 30
27. "Shout out to @PureAtlanta for getting the family right"....I'm loving this jogger. 😍😍
27 of 30
28. This pic warms my heart ❤️ #myLogiebeans and aunt aunt umba @itowandabraxton 😘
28 of 30
29. You will always be my baby😜. #HappyBirthdayReginae #mybaby18
29 of 30
30. GC "Gods Child" Red on Red SweatSuit available now at www.MonicaApparel.com ... Take Your Crown wherever you go!! I'm pictured in a Medium... Go to the site now for other options ... cc: @trukernell
30 of 30