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.