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Three days of new Black theatre. Robey Theatre Company co-founders Danny Glover and Ben Guillory host the opening night.
Coming soon: Robey Theatre Company’s second Paul Robeson Theatre Festival. The theme will be Harlem to Central Avenue,
Beginning in 1917, the Harlem Renaissance was the flowering of Black performing, literary and visual arts that signaled the birth of the New Negro Movement, an attempt by African Americans in the arts to define their own identity free of historic stereotypes. In the words of novelist and poet Langston Hughes, “We younger artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”
In the decades that followed, the New Negro Movement made its way west from Harlem to California, and Los Angeles’ Central Avenue became the center of African-American culture in this city.
The 2017 Paul Robeson Theatre Festival will celebrate the Harlem Renaissance and the impact that it ultimately had on Black culture and the arts in Los Angeles.
The Robey Theatre Company, founded by Ben Guillory and Danny Glover, has presented award-winning African-American theatre in Los Angeles for over two decades. Its Paul Robeson Theatre Festival will take place at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013 in Downtown’s Historic Core.
Beginning at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, August 25, the Festival starts with a Gala reception, welcoming by co-founders Danny Glover and Ben Guillory, formal announcements of upcoming events, presentation of awards recognizing support and creative achievements, and the staged reading of a new full-length play Birdland Blue by Randy Ross Ph.D., accompanied by the exciting musical ensemble the Blue Morning Quintet (BMQ):
While performing at New York City’s jazz club, Birdland, on a night in the summer of 1959, the notorious bandleader Miles Davis, who had delicately mastered the incompatible goals of artistic excellence and “living high on the hog,” struggles to keep his fragile musical, social, economic and psychological worlds from crumbling.
Saturday, August 26, at noon: A Conversation: Playwriting-The Creative Process.
2:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.- Performances of a program of short plays inspired by the theme of the Festival. Fifteen ten-minute plays, all framed by jazz music and spoken word poetry, will be presented. Featured plays and playwrights include:
Ode to a Cauliflower by Uriah Carr: Aunt Zora, a vacationing New Yorker, teaches Black pride to her L.A. kin through the aid of an overturned bowl of caviar.
The Corner by Mel Donalson: In November, 1941 on Central Avenue, a Black journalist brings a young Dorothy Dandridge to meet with well-known jazz pianist and arranger Phil Moore. The three argue and weigh the connection between the Harlem Renaissance and Black cultural expressions in Los Angeles in the 1940s.
The Straws That Broke the Camel’s Back by Kurt Maxey: The mercurial jazz singer Billie Holiday has given notice to the orchestral genius Artie Shaw that she will be leaving as a member of his band. Billie has taken all she can stand. The two volatile geniuses have their final clash.
Tarzan, Get Those Niggers by Tony Rayner: A Black father in 1947 Los Angeles must come to terms with his son’s resolute decision that he can accomplish more for his people as a writer than as a medical doctor.
Packing by Levy Lee Simon: The 40s- Young and enthusiastic Gail and Austin are moving from Harlem to Central Ave. seeking life-changing opportunities. Gail’s parents lobby for them to stay. The decision is the focal point of this light-hearted romp.
Sunday, August 27 at 1:00 p.m.: A Conversation: The Rehearsal Process.
3:00 p.m. – A repeat performance of the short plays.
Instead of performing different plays at each of the three show times, all three performances will feature the same short plays, effectively giving the plays a mini-run that will allow different audiences to see the complete roster of plays at the time most convenient for them, and will also permit audience members to see the plays more than once, should they be so inclined.
The program of short plays will be presented in Los Angeles Theatre Center’s intimate Theatre 4.
The two Conversation events will be free to the general public.
Presenter / Producer: Robey Theatre Co.
Theater > Drama
Theater > Theatrical Comedy
Event Phone: 866-811-4111
Los Angeles Theatre Center
514 S. Spring St.
Los Angeles CA 90013
LA - Central / Downtown
Performance Dates: 8/25/2017 - 8/27/2017
Fri. at 6:00, Sat. at 12:00, 2:00 and 7:00, Sun. at 1:00 and 3:00
$35 Opening Night. $35 one performance. $25 group sales of ten or more. Early Bird Bargain: Order by August 18 to get Opening Night plus one performance for $50.
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