Local Activists Convene Friday, July 31 for 'Black Lives, Black Words' Panel by Face Off Theatre, WMU
By Face Off Theatre Company
KALAMAZOO, Mich.— Get ready for stimulating conversation! Reginald Edmund, an international thought leader on systemic racism, and longtime and emerging Kalamazoo activists headline a dynamic virtual “Black Lives, Black Words” panel discussion at 7 p.m. Friday, July 31.
Watch the livestream on the Facebook page of Face Off Theatre Company via Facebook Live.
The panel discussion is hosted by the Black Arts & Cultural Center’s Face Off Theatre Company and Western Michigan University Department of Theatre. Panelists will discuss what’s being done to affect lasting change on the race issue.
The lineup includes:
About 'Black Lives, Black Words'
This is the second event in a three-part “Black Lives, Black Words” series being held online by Face Off Theatre and Western. Reginald Edmund, an award-winning playwright based in Chicago, is the founder of the Black Lives, Black Words International Project that provides workshops to train people of color how to create plays and other works for the stage that answer the question: “Do Black lives matter?”
WMU graduate Marissa Harrington helped start Face Off Theatre. Harrington, who serves as artistic director, believes having an outlet for artists of color to express themselves at this critical moment of heightened racial tensions is essential.
"The movement here has been so inspiring. I don't see people letting up, and that's a good thing," Harrington said in a recent interview with her alma mater. "I hope that people are inspired by what they see and what they hear and are encouraged to keep going."
Face Off Theatre Company has twice partnered with the WMU Department of Theatre to bring the Black Lives, Black Words project to Kalamazoo, first in 2018 and then in 2019. This summer's series is the first time they’ve done it virtually.
Joan Herrington, who heads the WMU theater department, told WMU News Services that it is important for the project to return in the wake of calls for racial justice nationwide. WMU is the second university in the U.S. to host Reginald Edmund’s BLBW initiative.
"I think there is more energy, more urgency for this work, and not just for this work, but really for us to look at institutional racism as it expresses itself in the arts,” Herrington said.
NEXT UP: The series' third and final event is a curated talent showcase at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 1, also on Face Off Theatre Company’s Facebook page.
By Face Off Theatre Company
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – It’s important to dismantle racism everywhere its ugly head rears, including in retail racial profiling. That’s the subject of “I’m Not Buying It,” the final show in Face Off Theatre Company’s 2020 Virtual Spring/Summer New Play Series at 7 p.m. EST Thursday, July 23.
Watch the production LIVE at Face Off Theatre Company’s Facebook page via Facebook Live for free! Kalamazoo writer Vickie G. Hampton’s 10-minute play takes us on the harrowing journey of self-discovery for a cashier on his first day at a high-end department store.
You, the audience, can post your thoughts in real time during this staged reading. The program concludes with a Q&A with the playwright who will answer your questions, plus some of ours!
'Will generate conversation'
Playwright Vickie Hampton says eliminating racism requires each of us do our part.
“There is a crucial individual component to dismantling racism,” Hampton says. “I hope that, at the very least, ‘I’m Not Buying It,’ will generate conversations about our personal responsibility in examining our innermost beliefs about race and doing the hard work of confronting our own biases.”
In "I’m Not Buying It," a cashier is surprised by the deep-seated discomfort and fear that surface when he deals with his first customer on his first day on the floor of an upscale department store. During the seemingly innocuous encounter, the cashier learns that there is, indeed, something sinister and disturbing at work.
A brief post-play interview will be conducted by the play's director Earlene McMichael, an actress/writer who is Face Off Theatre’s brand marketing and social media manager. The company fully staged McMichael's “You’re Gonna Learn Today” new play at last summer's Black Arts Festival in Kalamazoo.
Then Micealaya “Mickey” Moses, Face Off Theatre’s season planning/new play development director and dramaturg, will ask Hampton the Facebook audience's questions. Moses holds a master’s degree in fine arts with a concentration in playwriting from Western Michigan University.
The play stars Beth Fields, Timothy Smith, Dwane Stiger and Ron Ware, all of whom have been in past Face Off Theatre productions.
Thanks for your interest in Face Off Theatre Company! To help us put on future plays, please consider a CashApp donation to $BACCFOTC. FOTC is a division of the Black Arts & Cultural Center, known as the BACC.
About Face Off Theatre Company
Face Off Theatre Company launched in 2015 as the theatrical arm of the Black Arts & Cultural Center in Kalamazoo. It is devoted to thought-provoking Black theater and the development of playwrights of color, drawing audiences from throughout Southwest Michigan to its performances at the Epic Center’s Judy K. Jolliffe Theatre and nearby artistic venues. Tickets may be purchased online about a month before the show, or at the door. For more: faceofftheatre.com
About the Black Arts & Cultural Center
The Black Arts & Cultural Center, headquartered at downtown Kalamazoo's Epic Center, is widely known for its annual Black Arts Festival since founding in 1986. The organization develops the potential and creativity in Blacks in the Kalamazoo area, advances the awareness of Black artistic ability, helps to preserve Black cultural heritage and enhance interactions among diverse groups. For more: blackartskalamazoo.org
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By Face Off Theatre Company
KALAMAZOO, Mich. – The Black Arts & Cultural Center’s Face Off Theatre Company and Western Michigan University Department of Theatre have retained award-winning playwright Reginald Edmund to headline a three-part “Black Lives, Black Words” virtual event to teach and celebrate how the performing arts can be an agent of change in fighting racism.
Events include an “art-as-activism” workshop and a panel discussion on Black Lives Matter efforts in the Kalamazoo area to address systemic racism. They take place July 14 and 31, respectively.
The series closes out with an open mic-style talent showcase on Aug. 1. All programming is free, and held at 7 p.m.
Edmund, who is based in Chicago, founded the Black Lives, Black Words International Project, where he travels the world giving workshops posing the question, “Do Black lives matter?,” and then instructs participants on how to turn their answers into plays and other works for the stage, such as poems and spoken-word.
“A playwright has a sacred task stemming back from ancient times of the griot, as the politicians, the preachers, and the prophets of their times gathering the people together and guiding them through stories toward a better world,” Edmund writes on the Black Lives, Black Words website.
The virtual series
The July 31 panel discussion will feature local people on the front lines of fighting racism. The Aug. 1 showcase will present extraordinary actors, playwrights, spoken-word artists and poets specially chosen for the occasion. Both events take place at 7 p.m. on Facebook Live on Face Off Theatre’s Facebook page.
The July 14 workshop will be a private event between Edmund and up to 20 of Kalamazoo’s creatives of color on using their “art as activism” as the Black Lives Matter Movement continues to intensify nationwide in the wake of George Floyd’s death. Pre-registration is required.
With the workshop coming up quickly, interested persons of color should email Face Off Theatre Company as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org to be considered, or inbox us on Facebook. Include name, phone number and email address. Briefly state why the workshop would be beneficial.
Face Off Theatre Company has twice partnered with the WMU Department of Theatre to bring the Black Lives, Black Words project to the campus, in 2018 and in 2019. Reginald Edmund, at right below, posed with some of Face Off's company members in 2019.
This summer's series is the first time that Face Off and Western have ever done a virtual BLBW event or presented it as a multi-part offering.