Wednesday, June 27, 2007

The Bountiful Bonanza of Art.

This blogging stuff is sort of contagious. Not only do I get to vent and pontificate about things, I don't have anyone who can censure or delete my postings. I was just thinking that one of my secret desires as an artist is to have four (4) different play productions of my creations to be performed in the same city at the same time. Ha...good luck, dreamer! Are you out yah mind? Do you have any common sense? I mean it's difficult enough to just get one (1) play done in any time in any city in any one decade if you're a black playwright. :)

But something strange has happened to me recently. I haven't been blessed to have the realization of that fantasy yet, but I just realized that I have four different plays being read or performed in three different cities in a three month period. And on top of that I'm almost sure to have another play read in Stamford, Connecticut in the spring of 2008!

They say that before a Sun burns out it becomes a Super Nova, burning up vast amounts of energy; illuminating great brilliance of light, and then sputtering out forever. No, let me stop these negative energy thoughts that started out in this blog. :)

I'm still amazed at the sudden attention my writing has suddenly gotten. Here's a summary of how they have worked out:
(1) June 23rd, The Essential Theater in Washington, D.C. staged a reading of "King Willie".
(2) June 30th
The New Federal Theater is hosting a reading of "Is you is or Is you Ain't" at Abrams Center.
(3) July 20th,
AAPEX will host a reading of "Yesterday Came Too Soon" (The Dorothy Dandridge Story) in Atlanta, Georgia.
August 15th, 17th, and 18th The Manhattan Repertory Theater is hosting a performance of "Miss Laura Maye of Harlem" as part of the Summerfest.
(5) March, 2008,
a tentative production of "Last Dance of the Panther Women" at the Prometheus Fire Theater in Stamford, Ct.

Phewwww! If only they were all full productions. Oh well I guess I can't be too greedy. And it all comes at a time that I'm thinking of relocating to the good old new south in Atlanta, GA.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

The eviction of San Francisco Black Theater

Well let me start the ranting this morning. I received a few email messages about The Lorraine Hansberry Theater Company losing the lease on their downtown San Francisco theater district space on July 31st. Of course, we all in the black theater community are saddened and alarmed with this situation; another black theater homeless and under attack. I mean, after all this is one of our valued institution; the best west of the rockies. The state-of-the-art theater is located in a prime downtown location. Their black plays are budgeted $50,000 and above. Production values compare to any mid size professional theater anywhere. They are considered one of the leading black companies in America. For after all, that black theater has been producing top quality black theater for many years; one of which was my award-winning Vietnam play: "LBJ (Long Bien Jail")in 1986.

It is with mixed feelings that I look on this situation. I can still remember my bittersweet dealings with them over fifteen years ago. And since I am not willing to put my "true" feelings out there about this event or expose my Karma powers, I will attempt to be diplomatic in my observations. A little back story would reveal that I once was the first playwright-in-residence at SEW-The Lorraine Hansberry Theater Company back in 1989 (SEW stood for Stanley Earl Williams, the Artistic Director). Though I've often wondered why, you won't find it in any recent literature originating out of The Lorraine Hansberry publicity machine, You might find a hint I held that position for three years. I guess I ain't lived up to their lofty expectations and no one wants to lay claim to this brother's sad ass career.

With an ironic smirk on my face, I have to say that I was a Playwright-in-Residence without a "portfolio". That is to say that a formal contract, which would have bound the theater to giving me one production slot per season, was never formulated for one reason or another. And of course, through my three-year residency I was always asked to sacrifice for the company, my slot because the theater didn't have enough money for a full season.

The slick company's brochures for those years (1989-1992) do list me with that "illustrious" title, so I guess the documentation speaks louder than the silence. After developing a play, "Is you is or is You Ain't" in their workshop for the years I was in residence there and "miraculously" winning a major theater contest with it, I was told (I thought jokingly) that, playwright-in-residence or not--the theater would never produce a play with such an ignorant sounding title because it wouldn't do much for their image if they spent thousands of advertising dollars promoting it. I left the company and San Francisco rather bitterly in 1992 in quest of raising my art to another level. I had hit the "charcoal" ceiling.

My rant and rave with this situation is tied to a question: Are we as black playwrights supposed to keep our "dirty laundry" in dealing with black producers and black theaters, to ourselves? Are we to feel some collective empathy with the dire present situations of our former producers because they represent "excellence" that is under attack from capitalistic forces? Are we to wish them well in finding a new space and continuing their many years of excellence?

You tell me cause I sure have my smiling opinion!

Friday, June 22, 2007

New Federal Theater Presents.

The New Federal Theater presents a staged reading of AAPEX member, Jamal Williams' play: "Is you is or is You Ain't" at Abrons Art Center, 466 Grand Street, NYC Saturday June 30th, at 7:30PM.

Staged Reading -New Federal Theater - NYC

Jamal Williams' play to be read
Abrons Arts Center, Recital Hall

466 Grand Street, New York, NY 10002

In honor of Juneteenth and Father’s Day, LITERARY BREED takes an overview of past/current/future America through the eyes – and language – of African-American male playwrights including,
Joel Willis, Michael A. Jones, Michael P. Moss,
Cheo Jeffery, Allen Solder,

Kermit Frazier, Ajene D. Washington, Jamal Williams.


3:00 pm

by Kermit Frazier
Directed by: TBA

Featuring TBA

5:00 pm
by (Ajene) D. Washington

Featuring Micki Grant, Charmae Monisse Theisz,
Zeb Hollins

The quiet tale of two women: a retired historian and the young graduate student she mentors in a small mid-western college town. Today, their relationship changes forever when a mysterious man arrives at their door.

7:30 pm
Written and Directed by Jamal Williams

Featuring Pamela Monroe, Nadhege Ptah,
Iris Williams, Taqiyya Holden, Erwin E.A. Thomas,
D.K. Bowser, Michele Baldwin, and Victor Dickerson

After World War II, victorious soldiers came home while newly liberated women had to give up their jobs and return to being mere housewives. Many black women escaped the South in the War years and had vowed never to return. Olivia Pondexter breaks the mold and returns to "rescue" two sisters. Not only does she bring with her a hatbox full of money, she finds herself haunted by the spirit of what she has shamefully tried to forget. What makes matters worse, is that in order to regain the crown of Matriarch she has to make them leave their men behind.

AAPEX: The Essential Theatre presents "King Willie" Saturday, June 23rd (DC)

AAPEX: The Essential Theatre presents "King Willie" Saturday, June 23rd (DC)

The playwright is trying a new blog: the jammit brooklyn files. Check it out and let's interchange conversation about black theater.

getting the bitching started

Hey I'm trying to become new age with this Internet blogging. On this site we are open to discussions about the nature and health of the so-called theatrical thing called: Black Theater. I would like to put a question out there for any of you who happen upon this website: what is the health of black theater today? Is it on life-support systems? Where does it go now that The August Of the Wilson has passed on?

Can someone define what "progressive" new playwrights, theaters, or playwrights are out there?