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Wow what a day to be be proud and to be BLACK! Chicago has had a great and diverse 2017 theater season if I’m not mistaken this was a year full of diversity. This makes me beyond proud to be a black creative in this thriving city.

The 23rd Annual Black Theater Alliance Ira Aldridge Award nominations have been announced for 2017. According to Founder and President Vincent Williams, the venue, date and ticket information will be announced soon. For more information, visit btaawards.org.

The Negro Ensemble Company Award

Outstanding Stage Production:

An Octoroon – Definition Theatre Company and The Goodman Theatre

Black Pearl A Tribute To Josephine Baker – The Black Ensemble Theater

By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Hobo King – Congo Square Theatre Company

Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

The Lorraine Hansberry Award

Best Writing of a Play

Kristiana Rae Colon – Octagon – Jackalope Theatre Company

Marcus Gardley – A Wonder In My Soul – Victory Gardens Theatre

Ntsako Mkhabela – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Dominique Morisseau – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

Antoinette Nwanda – Pass Over – Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Charles Smith – Objects In The Mirror – The Goodman Theatre

The Target Community Relations Award

Best Ensemble

Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone – eta Creative Arts Foundation

An Octoroon – Definition Theatre Company and The Goodman Theatre

The Colored Museum – Pulse Theatre Company Chicago

The Scottsboro Boys – Porchlight Music Theatre

Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

The Lloyd Richards Award

Best Direction of a Play

Ilesa Duncan – Rutherford’s Travels – Pegasus Theatre Chicago

Ron OJ Parson – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

Kemati Porter and Ntsako Mkhabela – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Chuck Smith – Objects In the Mirror – The Goodman Theatre
The Oscar Brown, Jr. Award

Best Direction of a Musical

Daryl D. Brooks – Black Pearl: A Tribute To Josephine Baker – The Black Ensemble Theater

Lili-Anne Brown – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

Rueben Echoles and Jackie Taylor – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater

Samuel G. Roberson (Posthumously) – The Scottsboro Boys – Porchlight Music Theatre
The Douglas Alan Mann Award

Best Direction of an Ensemble

Donterrio Johnson and Aaron Mitchell Reese – The Colored Museum – Pulse Theatre Company Chicago

Tim Rhoze – Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Jonathan Wilson – Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone – eta Creative Arts Foundation
The Sidney Poitier Award

Best Leading Actor in a Play

Breon Arzell – Rutherford’s Travels – Pegasus Theatre Chicago

Kamal Angelo Bolden – Man In The Ring – Court Theatre

Manny Buckley – Transit – American Blues Theatre

Allen Gilmore – Man In The Ring – Court Theatre

Daniel Kyri – Objects In the Mirror – Goodman Theatre

Al’ Jaleel McGhee – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company
The Ossie Davis, Jr. Award

Best Featured Actor in a Play

Ronald L. Conner – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

Jeffrey Owen Freelon, Jr. – A Wonder In My Soul – Victory Gardens Theatre

Charles Andrew Gardner – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

Edwin Lee Gibson – Beyond Caring – Lookingglass Theatre Company

Allen Gilmore – Objects In The Mirror – The Goodman Theatre

Namir Smallwood – East Texas Hot Links – Writers Theater

Geno Walker – Blues For An Alabama Sky – Court Theatre
The Ruby Dee Award

Best Leading Actress in a Play

Tyla Abercrumbie – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

J. Nicole Brooks – Beyond Caring – Lookingglass Theatre Company

Greta Oglesby – A Wonder In My Soul – Victory Gardens Theatre

Lanise Shelley – King Liz – Windy City Playhouse

Toya Turner – Blues For An Alabama Sky – Court Theatre

Wandachristine – Beauty’s Daughter – American Blues Theatre

Jacqueline Williams – A Wonder In My Soul – Victory Gardens Theater
The Hattie McDaniel Award

Best Featured Actress in a Play

Echaka Agba – At The Table – Broken Nose Theatre

Caren Blackmore – Beyond Caring – Lookingglass Theatre Company

Linda Bright Clay – A Wonder In My Soul – Victory Gardens Theatre

Kristin E. Ellis – Paradise Blue – TimeLine Theatre Company

Kiki Layne – Octagon – Jackalope Theatre Company

Lily Mojekwu – Objects In The Mirror – The Goodman Theatre
The Sammy Davis, Jr. Award

Best Leading Actor in a Musical

Deverin Deonte – I Am Who I Am: The Story Of Teddy Pendergrass – Black Ensemble Theater

Mark ‘JP’ Hood – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater

Evan Tyrone Martin – Jesus Christ Superstar – Paramount Theatre

Rashawn Thompson – I Am Who I Am: The Story Of Teddy Pendergrass – Black Ensemble Theater

Denzel Tsopnang – Ragtime – Griffin Theatre Company
The Bill Bojangles Robinson Award

Best Featured Actor in a Musical

Frederick Harris – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

Steven Perkins – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

James Earl Jones ll – The Scottsboro Boys – Porchlight Music Theatre

Vincent Jordan – My Brother’s Keeper: The Story Of The Nicholas Brothers – Black Ensemble Theater

Kyle Smith – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater
The Lena Horne Award

Best Leading Actress in a Musical

Sydney Charles – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

Donica Lynn – Smokey Joe’s Café – Drury Lane Theatre

Joan Ruffin – Black Pearl: A Tribute To Josephine Baker – Black Ensemble Theater

Jessica Seals – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater
The Eartha Kitt Award

Best Featured Actress in a Musical

Anna Dauzvardis – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

Kyla Fyre – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater

Nicole Michelle Haskins – The Wiz – Kokandy Productions

Aeriel Williams – Black Pearl: A Tribute To Josephine Baker – Black Ensemble Theater
The Harry Belafonte Award

Best Actor in an Ensemble

Kai A. Ealy – Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Jon Michael Hill – Pass Over – Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Colin Jones – Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Julian Parker – Pass Over – Steppenwolf Theatre Company

Jelani Pitcher – Sweet – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Michael Rawls – Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre
The Ethel Waters Award

Best Actress in an Ensemble

Demetra Drayton – The Colored Museum – Pulse Theatre Company Chicago

Asia Jackson – Among All This You Stand Like A Fine Brownstone – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Shadana Patterson – Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Jelani Smith – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Alicia Watley – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation
The Denzel Washington Award

Most Promising Actor

Sheldon Brown – Man In The Ring – Court Theater

Daniel Kyri – Objects In The Mirror – The Goodman Theater

Tevion Lanier – How We Got On – Haven Theatre

Luce Metrius – East Texas Hot Links – Writers Theatre

Jelani Pitcher – Sweet – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre
The Phylicia Rashad Award

Most Promising Actress

Adia Alli – Sweet – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Fania Bourne – In De’ Beginnin’ – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Aayisha Humphrey – A Hedda Gabler – Red Tape Theatre

Jelani Smith – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Alicia Watley – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation
The Duke Ellington Award

Best Musical Direction

Robert Reddrick – I Am Who I Am: The Story Of Teddy Pendergrass – The Black Ensemble Theater

Christie Chiles Twillie – Yellowman – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Timothy Walker – Chicago’s Bronzeville: The Musical – Madhi Theatre Company
The Katherine Dunham Award

Best Choreography in a Play

Breon Arzell and Florence Walker Harris – The Scottsboro Boys – Porchlight Music Theatre

Rueben Echoles – Black Pearl: A Tribute To Josephine Baker – Black Ensemble Theater

Racheal Walker and Mathew Williams – Chicago’s Bronzeville: The Musical – Madhi Theatre Company
Best Choreography in a Music/Dance Concert

Joshua L. Ishmon – When Men… – Deeply Rooted Productions

Jeremy Noah – Radio Africa – Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago

Christopher Walker – Manifest – Muntu Dance Theatre of Chicago
The Alvin Ailey Award

Best Choreography (Non-Resident)

Hope Boykin – r–Evolution – Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre

Robert Garland – Brahms Variations – Dance Theatre Of Harlem

Billy Wilson (Posthumously) – The Winter In Lisbon– Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre
The Shirley Prendergast Award

Best Lighting Design

Phoenix and Oliver Ballentine – Sweet – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre

Darryl Goodman, Sr. – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Denise Karczewski – The Other Cinderella – Black Ensemble Theater

Richard Norwood – Hobo King – Congo Square Theater Company
The Ruth E. Carter Award

Best Costume Design

Jos N. Banks – The Colored Museum – Pulse Theatre Company Chicago

De Alexander and Carolyn London – Chicago’s Bronzeville: The Musical – Madhi Theatre Company

Samantha Jones – The Scottsboro Boys – Porchlight Music Theatre

Ruthanne Swanson – I Am Who I Am: The Story Of Teddy Pendergrass– Black Ensemble Theater
The Mike Sargent Award

Best Sound Design

Debbie Banos – The Colored Museum – Pulse Theatre Company Chicago

Darryl Goodman, Sr. – By The Apricot Trees – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Aaron Quick – The Other Cinderella – The Black Ensemble Theater
The Ed Burbridge Award

Best Set Design

Patrice Davidson – In De’ Beginnin’ – eta Creative Arts Foundation

Andrei Onegin – Hobo King – Congo Square Theatre Company

Tim Rhoze – Sweet – Fleetwood Jourdain Theatre
Bring It Black Chicago is looking forward to a great evening with all this talent stay connected for more updates on the 2017 BTA AWARDS

RECLAIMING OUR ROLES | The Great White Way & P.O.C Musicals


Reclaiming our roles
Reclaiming our roles                                  Reclaiming our roles                                 Reclaiming our roles………….

I needed a day to process this.  It’s been roughly twenty-four hours since the casting announcement of the GODS in the soon to come Broadway Revival of Once On This Island.

Once On This Island, which started tony award winner LaChanze in its original 1990 Broadway debut. Once on This Island is a one-act musical with a book and lyrics by Lynn Ahrens and music by Stephen Flaherty. (Ragtime, Seussical, Rocky, and Anastasia) Based on the 1985 novel My Love, My Love; or, The Peasant Girl by Rosa Guy, is set in the French Antilles archipelago in the Caribbean Sea. The show includes elements of the Romeo and Juliet story and elements of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale The Little Mermaid. It concerns a peasant girl on a tropical island, who uses the power of love to bring together people of different social classes.

Now that you know the background let’s dialogue about how “The Great White Way” has got it all wrong again! With a casting announcement from producers on August 8, 2017. Lea Salonga will join the cast as Erzulie “God of Love”

Lea Salonga a native of MANILA, PHILIPPINES who was most recently seen in Allegiance on Broadway certainly does not fit within the original character breakdown.

Read the statement from the revival Director Michael Arden- “In casting the Gods that inhabit our island, it became imperative for me to break expectations and stretch beyond the bounds in which Gods are traditionally represented. It felt important that young people watching our production see themselves reflected back from the stage at them,” “The Gods are simply that: Gods. They are not bound by gender, race, sexuality or being human at all. I’m so very pleased to be collaborating with these four artists exploring the important and timely themes of this musical through their unique and incredible abilities.”


Did Broadway not learn anything from the protest and backlash last summer over the cancellation of The Prince of Egypt Concert because of lack of diversity?

Also let us not forget the major concerns just last month over the Frozen The Musical casting using P.O.C. as cartoon characters. The other persuasion was outraged that Kristoff would be played by a black man. Even more backlash and hate comments that the Stand by Anna would be played by a Black Girl. They are cartoon characters get over it. This is different we are talking about an Island of people a culture of people who truly exist not fictional characters.

People this is a no brainer! The musical is set on the Caribbean Island. GOD or not the show should reflect people of color. The West Indies Islands natives are people who have a certain percentage of melatonin in their skin. Why does Broadway keep casting P.O.C. Musicals with people who are NOT of color. The answer to that is simple.

We the people of color;
1. Don’t own any theaters on Broadway.

2. Don’t have any black producers on Broadway.

3. Don’t have any black casting directors that are unionized on Broadway.

4.  Have no say in how all of this “Great White Way” business works.

Broadway uses our talents to be “An eventful afternoon or evening of inspiring entertainment.” As often describe by most white critics.  The same companies or productions that consistently black ball People of Color from the white shows. When a black show opens on Broadway with great success; After Midnight, Porgy & Bess, Jelly’s Last Jam, Purlie, Holla If You Hear Me, Shuffle Along, and Motown The Musical just to name a few. As you can see they often close early or they are sent out on short touring contracts to recoup some sort of investment. Why can’t our shows be a show that’s “Broadway’s Sure Thing?” Before you even say it Lion King doesn’t count, white director and it’s produced by Disney.

As a Black Creative this kills the spirit. Why even create when my show might not go any further than a staged reading. A profession that so many little black boys and little black girls dream about, can be crushed because of casting. I get it let’s be different and be inclusive, but how are being inclusive when on a regular casting call breakdown we don’t include people of color. Oh yeah that’s right because casting is at the discretion of the writer or the director.

In the last few years Broadway has surely evolved and I think I’ve attended over forty plus shows that have been “reimagined.” If we are truly reimagining things that means we are complete out of fresh ideas.

  • Where are the new works?
  • Where are the new writers?
  •  Where are the new directors ?

We can’t get ahead if we are consistently reviving everything.  Theatre is supposed to an experience that is life changing and art should reflect the times.

The 2016/ 2017 season has been the year of the revival. With great anticipation the 2017/2018 season will not be a duplicate of that. Creatives of Color let’s get together and fund some of these new works. Let’s produce some new work on the great white way. Let’s buy our own theater and put our shows in there. We must work together for US.
In other news I do enjoy the take of seeing a God that doesn’t have a sexual orientation shout out to ALEX NEWELL! Broadway we just want you to get it right one day. Treat us the way you want to be treated. Talk about racial equality in the work place. RAGTIME The Musical said it best “There’s a day of hope. May I live to see, When our hearts are happy. And our souls are free. Let the new day dawn, Oh, Lord, I pray. We’ll never get to heaven till we reach that day.”

For Bring It Black

– Frederick Alphonso

– Social Media @FrederickAlphonso

– WEB: www.frederickalphonso.com

When The Black Magic Isn’t Working – Creative Paralysis


This is a struggle to write. There are so many thoughts and so many angles. It also requires the energy to think and think deeply.

I’m experiencing paralysis about writing about paralysis.

Creative Paralysis (writer’s block in my case) is no foreign matter to me and I am sure it isn’t to you either. Let’s see if you feel me: you start a project determined to execute it perfectly. You avoid it until you can “do it perfectly,” but after a while you don’t do it at all. You feel frozen, stuck, and incapable. It drains you. Every time you sit with it, you find a reason for pause…or think about it a little longer. You are paralyzed by the fear that you will fail what you want to accomplish. Which, of course, makes it impossible to accomplish anything.

It’s a never ending cycle: perfectionism, procrastination, paralysis.

When I am ON, I am ON. I am an efficient and organized person. I pay close attention to small details. I live for being busy, overworked, and tired. I thrive off of hard work and high pressure, always ambitious, always reaching for the next thing to do or big vision. I am productive. I take charge and take action. It makes me feel like I am getting the most out of my life.

However, when I am off, I am flighty and frazzled. I spend far more time thinking about how I want to do something than I do actually doing it. This may be hard to believe for some because I am constantly busy. I doubt every choice I make and question every thought that graces my mind. I let my room and creative space get increasingly messy, even though I know how much I need a clean space in order to be happy. I just can’t confront the clutter. It’s a reflection of me in the moment.

I sink into myself.

I am most at peace when I am in bed. So…I spend days at a time in bed, sleeping, staring at the ceiling and thinking of all the things I could be doing but can’t because I could potentially fuck up (I didn’t know another way to say it). I lose countless hours to inner monologues of pointless self-motivation and all-or-nothing thinking. I tend to study for long periods of time. I never use the knowledge right away, instead I crush myself with the existential weight of knowing that there will be some sort of obstacle.

Up until recently, I just considered myself a bit lazy. I reckoned that if I just worked a little harder and pushed a little more,  I would be able to accomplish the things I set out to do. Failing to do them was a failure of my character. I have a reputation of producing great work to uphold.

I told myself that I had to get my shit together (another time I couldn’t find a better word). I had to do all of these things so that I could prove I was not worthless or even worst…overrated. I inevitably succumbed to depression under that pressure.

Sounds repetitive right? That’s because it is. It’s a vicious, repetitive, monotonous cycle. It is a constant come and go that happens at lightning speeds or doesn’t happen at all. It is confusing and intimidating to say the least.

Too much perfectionism is toxic. Expecting perfection only leaves you with two options: do everything right on the very first try, or don’t even attempt. Which in real life, things are rarely perfect on the first try.

“Perfectionism is the voice of the oppressor.”

I have never been able to sit back and watch one of my productions and be content. I don’t think most producers and directors ever do. However, I even struggled to find what I knew was good. I was always considering what wasn’t there. Audiences would love it, and I’d be proud, but I never feel complete.

“It’s not everything I wanted it to be. I don’t have enough money. I don’t have enough support. Why isn’t this a bigger deal? What’s taking so long for people to catch on…?”

Mistakes are essential to human progress and personal development, so why do we keep telling ourselves that we are not allowed to make any? How can we ever break free of this vicious cycle when it renders us incapable of taking action?

Paralysis isn’t stopping anyone from taking action so much as it is taking up all their time and energy before they have the chance to do much else. Here’s the thing: perfectionism, even and especially when it prevents you from being productive, is a lot of really hard work. It was ten times harder to write this article out in my head than it is to just sit down and do it.

Perfectionism is exhausting. It steals your time, your energy, your joy, your life.

Realizing that is half the battle. The rest involves a lot of mistakes and mishaps and bad drafts.

My advice is take a small step at a time. It does not matter how small, but every time you are paralyzed, DO SOMETHING…even if it is insignificant. Write a sentence. Make one small plan. Wash a dish. Sing a bar. Research one thing. Etc.

Life is a lot better when you allow yourself to live it.

#BlackGirlMagic: Why ‘Girl’s Trip’ is the Most Important Movie You’ll See About Black Women


This past weekend, beginning July 21st, droves of beautiful Black Women and people who love them descended upon theaters. Together they championed the all Black-woman lead, R-rated, live action comedy, ‘Girl’s Trip’, to a very respectable $30 Million Dollar opening weekend and to #2 at the box office. The film’s success is all the more impressive when you consider that the movie’s budget was a small fraction of most of its competitors at a humble $19 Mil, and showed on about 40% less screens than the other top 5 box office competitors, including the weeks leader, “Dunkirk”.

Despite the irrefutable success of this feel-good, summer hit, the importance of ‘Girl’s Trip’ goes far beyond the numbers. It is bigger than the laughs, which are EPIC.

#BlackGirlMagic is on full-on unapologetic display in this knee-slapping comedy, and for that reason, and that reason alone, it instantly becomes the most important film you’ve ever seen or might ever see about Black women. Yes, more important than movies like ‘Hidden Figures’ or ‘The Color Purple’ or even ‘Roots’. Now before you stone me and close whatever browser from which you’re reading, hear me out.

For years, we’ve been comfortable seeing Black Women struggle, suffer, be oppressed, raped, broken, or discriminated against. We’ve told ourselves that these were a tribute to their strength, to their resilience. This is all true, but by proxy, we have taught our girls and women that they must endure pain, abuse, and brokenness in order to be great. This narrative is toxic and dangerous to melanin-laced sisters everywhere.

What ‘Girl’s Trip’ hysterically and effortlessly shows us, is that Black women, are magic by their very existence. From the board room storming, power deal wielding, Oprah archetype, beautifully embodied by the gorgeous Ryan Pierce (played by Regina Hall) to the ratchet, job-hopping, life of the party, Dina–played by the film’s breakout star Tiffany Haddish , we are shown that these women don’t have to “DO” anything to be great, other than be their authentic, magical selves. When we learn to value Black women for the worth of who they are, rather than the worth of “what they do” or “who they are associated with” we can truly reach a place where misogynoir meets it’s demise. In this movie, we are reminded that Black women are allowed to be sexual, fun, care-free, happy, sad, confused, or even irresponsible and that doesn’t diminish their magical greatness, and more importantly, that it add to it.

Girl’s Trip was side-splitting from start to finish. The film was thoroughly sexy, even giving us a glimpse of the very rare, male frontal nudity. Adding depth and grit, acting veterans Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett-Smith, gave us range and layers from which we could get our cinematic life! Lord knows that between Queen Sugar star, Kofi Siribo and the vampiric, ever youthful Larenz Tate, plus the radiant main cast there was more than enough eye-candy for all of us to feast on. It has laughs, lots of laughs, and a few tender moments. Overall, Bring it Black rates this film as a must see and gives it 2 BLACK ASS Thumbs up!!!


Written by Tyson Isaiah Evans

Follow @iamtysonisaiah

‘Moonlight’ Director, Barry Jenkins, to Adapt James Baldwin Novel to Feature Film


Bladwin is definitely a Bring It Black idol. Some 30 years since his death, the brilliant writer is experiencing a resurgence of sorts. You could say he was before his time.

Earlier this year, the documentary film “I Am Not Your Negro” explored America’s history of race and racism through Baldwin’s unfinished manuscript, “Remember This House.” And now, news has surfaced that Oscar-winning “Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins will be adapting Baldwin’s fifth novel, ‘If Beale Street Could Talk,’ for the big screen.

Author James Baldwin
Author James Baldwin Ted Thai / The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty

Image result for Michael Gipson cultural critic“I’m thrilled that we appear to be experiencing a well-deserved revival of all things Baldwin,” cultural critic L. Michael Gipson told NBC News. “The planned ‘If Beale Street Could Talk’ [movie], like the superb ‘I Am Not Your Negro,’ seems to be an extension of that interest.”

Gipson described the novel as a “fairly routine story of a corrupt white cop and the black folks he terrorizes, told from the perspective of the woman of one of the cop’s wrongly imprisoned victims.”

“It’s timely, for sure, but not as groundbreaking as other Baldwin works,” Gipson added.

Gipson said he would have personally rather had Jenkins adapt one of Baldwin’s other works — like “Another Country,” “Go Tell It on the Mountain” or “Just Above My Head” — but he noted that “If Beale Street Could Talk” is timely.

Released in 1974, the novel is about two people in love, Fonny and Tish. And while the story is centered on them, in true Baldwin fashion, the time (1970s), the setting (Harlem) and the circumstance (Fonny is falsely accused of raping a Puerto Rican woman) all serve as major characters in their own right.


Preview Of Moonlight And Q&A with director Barry Jenkins
“Moonlight” director Barry Jenkins poses for a photo on February 14, 2017 in London, United Kingdom. Tim P. Whitby / Getty Images
Image result for kevin young schomburg
Poet Kevin Young

For Kevin Young, director of New York’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, “If Beale Street Could Talk” has something Baldwin’s other novels do not.

“How many of Baldwin’s books are love stories?” Young asked. “‘Another Country’ was a big book, a sprawling epic, with many characters. ‘Beale Street’ is a more intimate story — it is a love story.”

When Young first heard the news of Jenkins’ upcoming film, he admits to finding the selection of “If Beale Street Could Talk” a surprising choice. “As one of his later works, it is not as closely looked at,” Young explained, adding that the book’s manuscript is on display at the Schomburg Center.

Baldwin documents on display at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Schomburg Center/New York Public Library

Another obvious difference between “If Beale Street Could Talk” and some of Baldwin’s other works is that while the novel is centered on the theme of love, the protagonists are heterosexual.

“While three of his major works had a gay or bisexual protagonist and several had themes of homoeroticism and same-sex relationships, they were not the totality of the man or his body of work,” Gipson said. “Not every Baldwin work or review of his work needs to be a focused reminder of Baldwin’s very open homosexuality, particularly given his disdain for the racism he found in the ‘out’ LGBT movement … and his own intense focus on race and intersectionality.”

In his lifetime, Baldwin released more than a dozen books and countless other writings. He was a harsh critic of the ills of racism and discrimination in America, going so far as to impose his own exile to France. Baldwin did much of his writing while living abroad.

“He wrote about many different subjects,” Young said. “This story, as a love story, is not conventional. Love is a transformative thing.”

Jenkins, who is currently working on other projects, including a drama series for Amazon, was unavailable to talk to NBC News about his upcoming film adaption of Baldwin’s novel. However, in an interview with Variety, Jenkins described Baldwin as a man “ahead of his time,” and he also tweeted out that having the chance to bring the writer’s work to life is a “dream come true.”

With many of Baldwin’s writings on display at the Schomburg Center, Young hopes the center could host a sit-down discussion with Jenkins around the film’s release. He thinks the event would be the perfect addition to the center’s “Year of Baldwin” programming that is already in development. This fall, the center is also planning to have what Young calls an “all-day Baldwin reading.”

“He is coming to us in many ways, and this is just another part of Baldwin’s revival,” Young said. “For some of us, Baldwin never went away, but it is always refreshing when I see people carrying [his work] on the subway. To see people able to go to their local theater and have a piece of him is really exciting to me.”



Of course season 2 will start with a bang. Our favorite modern black girl who may be a little “awkward” (see what I did there) is back. 

If you are not on the ISSA RAE train then boo you’re for sure not bound for glory land, and for sure not living the black young artist dream.

Issa and crew are back and I’m here for it. So of course we ended last season with “Are you team Issa or Lawrence?” And honestly I was team ISSA and you will deal. 

The new season opened upbeat and funky as we all dreamed it would point blank it was LIT.

Issa is still for sure heartbroken that Lawrence left her to bang out the big breast bank teller Tiffany, in which 

Lawrence’s boy that he’s couch surfing with tells Lawrence “She’s just a piece of ass and that’s all, it’s clock work. You’re in on Friday out on Sunday.” We all need that one friend that will help us realize how dumb of a hoe we look, when we are just chasing pussy or dick to fill a missing hole in our heart.

Issa fills her time without BAE (Lawrence)  around her girls, I don’t know about anyone else but I’m glad at the end of season 1 her and Molly worked things out. You don’t have good friends unless you fall out at least twice in your friendship. 

If you are a fan of the show I’m sure you love Molly as much as you love Issa. Molly deals with sexism in her law practice she works in finding out one of the white partners makes a whole lot more than she does and he literally does nothing as he states it. I mean where is the BLACK GIRL MAGIC ….. 

Black girls just can’t get a break they put in the education hours just like the other race and yet still unappreciated. Issa is still working for We Got Y’all, and of course the white people are still doing their usual bullshit they do in non-profit organizations making the black man/woman do all the inner city work with limited help or recourses. 

Of course we all say well girl just quit and find something else, but we love what we do and we’re here for the kids. 

Best scene of the night Issa throws a lil kick back at her place in hopes that Lawrence will come pick up his mail. I swear I love Issa’s thinking tactics about how to get her man back. The party end up literally blowing up in flames and not because lawrence showed up. 

We all have that one kick back we go to and someone shows up with a crew that wasn’t originally invited (inserts hard SIDE EYE) they change the vibe of the kick back asking you for wi-if passwords and what’s the name of your bluetooth speaker so they can “bump they playlist” NIGGA NAW leave my neo-soul tidal playlist alone and sat down. By the end of the night after no luck of hooking up with anyone from the kick-back a knock strikes the door and it’s none other than Lawrence. Stop before you continue to judge yes she opened the door. Wouldn’t you? I won’t spoil the episode but Lawrence did get his mail and something else.

You can join the rest of us and live the truth of your reality of being awkward and black through ISSA every Sunday Evening at 10:30PM EST on HBO or on HBOGO 

Frederick Alphonso –

Staff Writer 

I Speak | 4:44 Review | BMor



Illusions of Power Kill Jay Z (2:59) In November of 2016, Kanye West went on a tirade during his San Francisco gig for the Saint Pablo tour. He spoke about Hillary Clinton, Beyoncé and Jay Z. Ye claims Jay hadn’t event called him after his wife Kim Kardashian was robbed at gun point in […]

via I Speak — The Official Site of Briana Morris

Lorraine Hansberry Speaks! ‘The Black Revolution and the White Backlash’


Lorraine Hansberry Speaks! ‘The Black Revolution and the White Backlash’ (Excerpt) Hansberry speaking on June 15, 1964 at town hall meeting held in New York City on “The Black Revolution and the White Backlash.” Others speaking that day included Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee, LeRoi Jones (Amiri Baraka) & David Suskind.

Wig Out | Because Black Queer Stories Are Just As Relevant As Slavery – A Review

Image result for wig out studio theatreStudio Theater presents Tarell Alvin McCarney‘s WIG OUT directed by Kent Gash.


There is so much to say about this production! A lot of what I experienced centered around the black LGBT community. I acknowledge that most will not understand those issues. Shout out to Teresa Wood for slaying these images.

It has taken me a moment to process all of the excellence, but I would first like to say I appreciate Studio Theater for crossing cultural and institutional barriers. Thanks for giving us something with a bit color…a rainbow if you will. In addition, I appreciated the research and recognition of local movers and shakers in the DC Ballroom scene. Everyone deserves a reflection of themselves.

Black Queer Men are the driving force of popular culture. The pungent lingo, mannerisms, and beauty standards people like to shower themselves in, while still being homophobic, are all created in these spaces. Here’s a few just for the gag.

Coin, Slay, Read, Read Down, Across the Board, Yassss, Beat, Fierce, Come Through, Snatched, Yes Gawd, Pump, Press, Honey, Chile, Sis, Dawta, For the Gods, Give Me Life, SHADE, Tea, What’s the Tea, What’s the Beat, Get Into This, The Gag, Ole Nasty, etc…


I must mention the set first because it was a very valuable asset to the experience. Immediately when the doors open to the black box space you’re either right at home or intrigued and pulsing for more. Set Designer Jason Sherwood did an INCREDIBLE job. It was one of the most detailed sets I have ever seen. Everything in the set was functional, meaningful, and purposeful like a museum of house life…even the ceiling. The elevators were a unique and captivating choice. The air was thick and steamy. I was comforted in the vibe and energy Sherwood and Lighting Designer Dawn Chiang created that meets you at the door and sits in your lap for a proper lap dance!

There were no visible mishaps or delays that we noticed from the audience and that’s impressive because the production had so many moving parts that bled into each other.

The lighting choices on the monologues were unique and dream like. I love how each transition faded into just an intimate spotlight of just the face.

Jaysen Wright, Jamyl Dobson and Michael Rishawn in “Wig Out!” at Studio Theatre. (Teresa Wood)

The costumes, though they were fun and creative, confused me a bit. They seemed dated for this to be a current day production. Everybody looked like they came straight out of 80’s NYC…on a super tight budget . Drag is typically unconventional so I praise that portion if it was the intention. By the Cinderella Ball, everyone was beat and serving.


Tarell Alvin McCarney

Tarell Alvin McCarney, writer of Academy Award Winning Moonlight and Choir Boy, is telling the stories that have taken rest in the core of the human condition and birthing them into the light, The House of Light. There is a global healing that occurs when we all learn to understand each other more. A number of key issues are tackled in the script. McCarney has shattered that glass ceiling with truth and humbleness.Image result for wig out studio theatreFrom a family perspective, often queer men cling to their Grandmothers or the matriarchs of their family when everyone else turns their back. McCarney showcases this in a series of beautiful monologues that use the wig as a metaphor of security. Kent Gash follows up with this metaphor in his direction.

The African American Gay Ballroom/House scene is a complicated underground world for anyone unassuming. The lifestyle is becoming more mainstream as pioneers, like RuPaul, have made drag queens household names. Balls, walking, choreography, voguing, sex, shade, love, and many other adjectives tend to create the foundation of a house. If you ever wondered where all of the abandoned black queer boys and girls go, here it is. I will not go into the logistics of a house. I’m not qualified to do so. Just know there is a mother (typically a legendary drag queen, fem queen, non-gender conforming, or transexual), a father (typically “trade”…ask your gay friends about that one I ain’t got time), and the children (those in need of security, family, purpose, and sometimes a place to live and BE).

Kent Gash

Kent Gash was definitely in tune with McCarney’s intentions and desires. The first was the stigma surrounding masculinity and femininity in the black gay community wrapped in a beautiful budding love story turned tragedy between Ms.Nina/Wilson (Michael Rishawn) and Eric, the Red (Jaysen Wright).

“You’re not that kind of gay.”

Michael Rishawn (Wilson/Ms. Nina) and Jaysen Wright (Eric) in Wig Out! Photo by Teresa Wood.

The two were captivating because they showcased vulnerability, discovery, and fear in a way that was relatable and heartfelt. I love when a director owns MOMENTS. McCarney and Gash force us to take a look into our own insecurities and stigmas throughout the production and ask ourselves WHY we feel the way we feel.

Kent is EDGY! The entire performance was a risk (nudity and stimulated sex). I expected some people to leave because of the vulgarity of some scenes. It is like watching film on stage and to that I say, it’s about damn time! The monologues in this piece were so special. Black Men don’t often get to talk about what they are feeling on the inside in productions. Usually we are talking about how life has happened TO us.

Kent Gash apparently paid attention to details. Productions like this can be very hard for directors and often fall short since the subject matter is not a widespread known topic. McCarney and Gash do not leave you feeling left out.


Now let’s get into this black box performance realness dawta! (yes…I’m about to pack this review with all the lingo I can possibly muster up)

Image result for wig out studio theatreThe poet in me got all of his deep dark life in this show from all the metaphors. The Fates literally rush you right into the mix of the story with an ole’ nasty vogue and chant. Gash’s direction here was superb! Every production needs The Fates narrating package! Put a price on it!

Fay (Ysabel Jasa), Fate (Melissa Victor), and Faith (Dane Figueroa Edidi) worked for each moment. They were the driving machine of the production with their a capella songs and harmonies, lip syncs, movement, and chile that dance number to Destiny’s Child’s ‘Lose My Breath’ was one for the Gods! Ysabel‘s presence was enticing. She seemed to show up when things were transitioning. Apparently Mama has attended a few balls herself, or at least did intense studying. Melissa gave us DIVINE energy with her facials, her body, and her dancing. To Melissa I say TEN’S ACROSS THE BOARD honey! I stared at her throughout the show. Dane…girl, you betta! Dane came to let all the kids know that she can do ALL THINGS, and I mean all things…no seriously, she gave triple threat realness and had incredible tits while doing it. Their cohesiveness was like insurance; if you were wrecked at any moment, they had you covered. I need more of The Fates in my life.

Courtesy of Broadway World

Soon after we meet Rey-Rey (Jamyl Dobson) and The House of Light. We are alerted that there is a Cinderella Ball in 24hrs that the house must win! This scene gave me LIFE. You would have thought we were sitting in a library with all the reads flying from one end of the stage to another from The House of Light and Loki (Alex Mills).Rey-Rey was so maternal and graceful. Jamyl, as a performer, transcends his appearance. I commend the entire cast on the softness they bring to the characters, though these men gave BOOOOODY, hear?

Related imageAt the top of The House of Light you had Lucian (Michael Kevin Darnall), the father of the house. Lucian was intoxicating and very seductive; however, he is everything wrong with toxic masculinity. Darnall makes you cling to his every word not because of the sexy dialect, but because the purpose he put behind each sentence. He was one of those villains you love to hate. He did a great job of staying away from cliché mannerisms pertaining to that character type. In his monologue, he really shows his stamina, phrasing, and diction as he pounds another man on the floor.

Dane Figueroa Edidi, Melissa Victor, Ysabel Jasa, Michael Rishawn, and Jaysen Wright in Wig Out! at Studio Theatre. (Photo: Teresa Wood)

Michael Rishawn was sculpted by God on the seventh day! As muscular as he is, he found a way to be poised and dainty and it consumed him. He wore Nina’s story in his body. You could see each emotional recall course through her. I love when an actor showcases his (her in this case) backstory. Pair this with the hefty Jaysen Wright, and you have a match made in heaven. Jaysen is just beautiful. His caution and attention to small details keep you captivated and often siding with him. Vulnerability is hard to live in for long periods of time. Jaysen did this with grace.

Venus (Edwin Brown III) OWNS the space. I mean, it’s hard to miss a 7ft tall girl chile! I have seen Edwin in a number of productions and his range is unending. Venus was intriguing and a breath of fresh air, or Beyoncé fans, in the midst of the brewing tragedy. Venus’s monologue featuring The Fates was my favorite. Edwin has a way of painting the picture with his voice as if he’s singing to you.

The reconciliation between Venus and Deity (Desmond Bing) felt real. Deity brought a balance to the production. He was effortless “the man” for all the right reasons outside of his struggle with feeling emasculated by the potential of his sexual relationship with Venus.

Courtesy of MetroWeekly
Courtesy of MetroWeekly

I cannot end this review without mentioning The House of Di’Abolique. Serena (Frank Britton) and her minion Loki know how to put on a show! I thoroughly enjoyed her lip syncs! Somebody give this girl her innocence back!

Alex Mills is so talented. He kept things very interesting every time he entered the stage. You could say he was the court jester.


Wig Out is worth it. We are rich in stories in the black community, but we are not rich in understanding. A lot of us, though we are in the arts, will not consider seeing this production. However, like Nina Simone said, we must reflect the times. There are so many facets of life out there that we need to explore in order to understand each other and build each other. Because like I said, any story of oppression or outsiders (women, queer, poverty, etc.) is just as important as slavery.

Wig Out brought it black and snatched our wigs in the process.

Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf | August 4-20 | CHI


Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf

Purchase Tickets HERE.


This production of Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf will be performed at City Lit Theater’s performance space. The theater is located at: 1020 W Bryn Mawr, Chicago, IL 60660

City Lit Theater is located on the second floor of the Edgewater Presbyterian Church at the corner of Bryn Mawr and Kenmore, right around the corner from where Lake Shore Drive starts at Hollywood and Sheridan.

City Lit Theater is wheelchair accesible. There is an elevator located next to the main stairs and a ramp entrance on the west side of the building.

Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? opens on a small New England college. Unmotivated middle-aged associate history professor George and his vicious gin-soaked wife Martha have just returned home from a late-night cocktail party hosted by Martha’s father, the school’s president. She invites the college’s newest young professor and his mousy wife back to their place. Over the course of the next few hours, as the liquor sets in and tensions flare, George and Martha drag the couple into their sadistic head games. The night erupts into a no-holds-barred torrent of anger and verbal assault as each couple is faced with the truth of their corrupted courtships. This turbulent theater classic was the winner of the 1963 Tony for Best Play and now celebrated director Chris Jackson heads up Pulse Theatre Chicago’s production at City Lit Theater.

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