On December 4, the Triangle Friends of African American Arts attended the play Dot at PlayMakers Repertory Company in Chapel Hill. It was an amazing show about an African American family in West Philadelphia. It was funny, touching and dramatic. You could see our lives reflected on the stage. There were wonderful actors and a great set. And PlayMakers has such an intimate theater that every seat had a great view. And yet, when I left the show I felt disappointed.
That is because when I looked around the audience there were lots of empty seats and only a few were filled by people of color. And it is such a loss for our community. There are so many reasons to attend an African American play or musical. You’ll have a wonderful experience. You’ll receive gratitude from the family or friends that you bring (“This was such a great show. Thank you for telling me about it.”). And you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that you supported African American arts and artists.
When we fill up the audience for an African American play or musical, the African American performers feel energized and appreciated. I once spoke with an African American actor after a play and she said that it was a different show when we were in the theater. We respond. We encourage. We laugh at the right moments. The success of African American plays and musicals, enables theater companies to present shows that will provide more work for African American actors and playwrights. And it ensures that we will have more opportunities see our history, our culture, and our lives in the stories that we see on the stage. So support African American theater in the Triangle is a wonderful way to make a difference!
On January 14, 2018 at 7:00 pm, The Triangle Friends of African American Arts is bringing together several performing arts organizations to showcase the wonderful African American plays and musicals that will hit the stages in 2018. This special evening will include dramatic readings, songs and scenes from upcoming performances.
Photo credit: Yolanda Rabun performing at the 1st annual Triangle African American Theater Preview in 2017. By Beth Mann/Early Bird Photo on behalf of ArtsNowNC.