KALAMAZOO, Mich. – Coming to the Black Arts Festival for the first time is Face Off Theatre Company's New Play Series, showcasing three powerful original works by prominent, local African-American female writers that'll have you wanting to cry one minute, laugh the next. Face Off is the theater arm of the Black Arts & Cultural Center, organizers of the Black Arts Festival.
Police brutality, hate, black self-identity, class, campus climate, and the pressure on women of color to try to do it all are among the timely issues that the New Play Series explores during four performances in July,
'A lot undiscovered talent'
While Face Off Theatre Company has presented new plays since founding in 2015, July's New Play Series represents the first time the company coached the authors of those new plays through every phase of developing their pieces, from first draft, revisions after staged readings, and, finally, fully staged productions, complete with scenery, blocking, auditions and lines memorized.
“There aren't many theaters outside of major theater hubs like Chicago and New York that do full productions of new work," explains Face Off Theatre Season Planning Director and Co-Founder Mickey Moses, whose own plays the company has helped stage. "We believe there's a lot of undiscovered talent out there who just need the right opportunity to be able to shine."
Who are the playwrights?
The three featured playwrights are Kalamazoo area historian Dr. Michelle Johnson (Dreamin'), poet Denise Miller (A Ligature of Black Bodies), and actress/veteran print-broadcast journalist Earlene McMichael (You're Gonna Learn Today), all of whom are accomplished writers in their fields. These are their first plays.
Johnson and Miller are co-founders of the Fire Historical and Cultural Arts Collaborative in Kalamazoo. McMichael is co-founder of the Rising Stars Summer Journalism Program that operated at the Kalamazoo Gazette for 12 years. McMichael performs and writes for Face Off Theatre, where she also serves as brand marketing and social media coordinator..
The New Play Series will be staged 7:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, July 11-13; and 2 p.m. Sunday, July 14 at the Jolliffe Theatre, Epic Center, 359 S. Kalamazoo Mall, downtown Kalamazoo. Each performance features all three plays for one admission price ($8-$20; $8 if 5 or more tix purchased). For tickets:
About the plays
“There aren't many theaters outside of major theater hubs like Chicago and New York that do full productions of new work. We believe there's a lot of undiscovered talent out there who just need the right opportunity to be able to shine"