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We always strive to celebrate Black history no matter what month it is, but we will gladly turn up the volume during Black History Month. Throughout this month we have been looking back at Black artists' contributions to The Public's history as well as hearing why Black Theater matters to our staff and our social media audience. As we close out the month, we are thrilled to share more from our staff and artists in response to the following question:
Why does Black Theater Matter to You?
Garlia Cornelia Jones (Producing Department):
Black Theater is more than a movement - it is a culture and part of two distinct communities. We explore the stories of our ancestors through our own stories, whether about Black people or through our lens, the stories told by Black artists and artists of African descent are the stories of the resilience of Africans in this country and what that has meant since our arrival in 1619. Black Theater lives in an artistic and community-oriented political space, an activist's space. Black Theater is a way to teach for me - to tell stories that shine a light on the diversity among those within our community - our traditions and also Black Theater tells the story of our love, our joy, our pain, and sorrow - Black Theater tells our human story and matters as a look into our hearts - our minds and our souls. Black Theater connects us as humans and evolves with each generation as we do as Black people.
Rannie McCants (Development Department):
Rayshaun Sandlin (Operations Department):
Black Theater matters to me because it allows me to see myself in spaces and platforms not always originated for me. Black Theater Matters to me because it validates my people's truths, experiences, and creativity in scenarios these devices may have once been disproved or revoked. Furthermore, Black Theater, by Black artists bears most significance to me due to its nature to further said notion. Black Theater is art that reflects and "imitates" Black people's lives. Black Lives Matter. Because of this, Black Theater and Black art matters, and is just as crucial to society's cultural development and understanding as any other "theater" and why that "theater" might too matter.
Brit Sellers (Marketing Department):
Black Theater is so important because the Black voice has been traditionally silenced and disregarded. To see significant works of art of the Black experience is so necessary in providing an over-saturated performance world with diversity and variety. The perspectives of Black artists are invaluable as they give context to nations that have been built from Black experiences of tragedy and joy.
Xavier Smith (Joe's Pub Artist):
Because who else is going to tell our stories but us? How else can you reflect without seeing yourself? Black Theater is a conversation. It builds community. It shares perspectives. It teaches. It heals. It foments understanding. Representation is everything.
Indigo Sparks (Company Management Department):
Black Theater is important because Black people, and the distinct way we choose to tell our stories, are crucial to the advancement of culture. There are very few spaces where Black people are allowed to be seen and heard as the multidimensional humans we are. More commonly you'll find that when given a platform and told you can "be yourself" if the way you decide to tell your story isn't reflective of the version of Black wanted for that specific audience it can become a problem. We see this happen in every field from corporate business and entertainment to education and tech. It happens to the little Black girl from the small town in North Carolina the same exact way it happens to Gabrielle Union on a National TV show watched by millions. Black Theater provides a unique opportunity for black creatives to showcase our magic to the masses. Within the safety of the theater, the archetype of the Black experience is taken out of the box and put onto an endless spectrum of possibilities. And it will always give more than it takes away. We must continue to advocate for the sharing of our stories not just because they deserve to be heard, but because the comprehensive understanding of what is to be black and truly liberated depends on it.
Praycious Wilson-Gay (Mobile Unit)
Black Theater matters to me because it allows me to see myself, family, community and culture on the stage.