BLACK THEATRE COALITION ANNOUNCES NEW PROGRAM DIRECTOR TOM ANDRE BARDWELL
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE PLEASE
BLACK THEATRE COALITION
BLACK BROADWAY MEN, INC
PARTNER FOR BLACK BROADWAY MEN’S 2023 PLAYWRITING INITIATIVE
New York, NY (March 20,2023) – Black Theatre Coalition co-founders T. Oliver Reid, Warren Adams, and Reginald “Reggie” Van Lee, along with Executive Director Olivia Jones and Program Director Nik Whitcomb, announced today a partnership with fraternal organization, Black Broadway Men. The partnership will utilize many BTC Fellows and Apprentices on the upcoming reading of BBM Award recipient, Cris Eli Black’s play, The Final Verses Of The Prophet and Wiz. BTC Fellows and Apprentices will take on necessary roles as Producer, General Management, Company Management and more within the production.
The BBM Playwriting Initiative provides male-identifying Black Playwrights ages 18 – 35, the opportunity to experience a full theatre rehearsal and final twenty-nine-hour reading of their work, sponsored by Black Broadway Men, Inc. This will include a director, production stage manager, dramaturge, and equity actors to bring the production to life. Cris Eli Blak will work with a BBM writer who will help mentor the development of his play and the content of his writing. The presentation of this incredible piece is set to occur in front of an invite-only audience in New York, this upcoming May.
“We are so proud to be participating with BBM on this Playwriting Initiative,” said T Oliver Reid, BTC founder. “We know that the changes we need to see in our industry can not be made by one person nor organization alone and we are thrilled to have found an intersection in the work of these two organizations…and even more proud that Cris was a past BTC-BAA Fellow.”
“The mission of Black Broadway Men is to celebrate the unity, find strength through educational opportunities and celebrate the legacy of those Black theatre men who have come before us because we are the legacy for those to come after us,” said Anthony Wayne, President of Black Broadway Men Inc. “While we are instituting those principles, we are thrilled to work in association with Black Theatre Coalition to uplift our BBM Playwriting Initiative to provide the platform and voice for the voiceless. We are pleased to connect with BTC as they provide extensive resources that will help raise the bar for our work. We can’t wait to uplift the work of Cris Eli Black and many more to come.”
Black Theatre Coalition has an ongoing Broadway Fellowship Program which has currently funded 20 fellows, 8 apprentices, and 6 regional Fellowships in cooperation with the John Gore Organization and Broadway Across America.
Other Industry Partners helping fund these fellowships include Madison Wells Media, Disney Theatrical Group, Jujamcyn, Bespoke, Foresight, 101, RCI, Showtown, Thompson Turner Productions, Sony Music Group, Adventureland, Mara Isaacs, Tom Kirdahy, Hal Luftig, Doug Denoff, Hunter Arnold, Daryl Roth Productions, Stage Entertainment, Moulin Rouge, Come From Away, Hamilton, Tara Rubin Casting, Telsey + Co, Spotco, DK/OMC, Broadway Women’s Alliance, Bond Theatrical, American Express and The Theatre Leadership Project (TTLP)
Over the 155 years since the very first Broadway musical (The Black Crook) premiered in 1866, the “Great White Way” has seen 3,002 musicals and 8,326 plays. Across all of these productions, there have been only Ten Black directors of a musical (0.3%) , Eleven Black directors of a Play (0.13%) and Seventeen Black choreographers of a Musical (0.56%). All of this directly correlates to the fact that there have only ever been Two Black lead producers of a musical (representing 0.06% of all Broadway musicals). Furthermore, the numbers for Writers, Composers, Scenic, Lighting, Costume, Sound, Video, Music Contractors, Musical Directors, Arrangers, Orchestrators, Hair/Wigs/Makeup, Casting, General Management, Stage Management, Company Management, PR and Marketing/Advertising range from 0 to 5 in each category.
In a joint statement, Mr. Reid, Mr. Adams, and Mr. Van Lee said, “Once we identified just how vast the disparity is between the perceived inclusivity on stage and the utter dearth of black professionals off stage, we began outlining ways in which we could address and ultimately eradicate this invisible imparity. This outline provided a clear path forward for our organization and our entire industry. It’s high time to end this ‘illusion of inclusion’ by reshaping the theatrical ecosystem for those who have been marginalized by systematically racist and biased power structures that have endured since the dawn of the American theater.”
For more information about the Black Theatre Coalition, visit their website www.BlackTheatreCoalition.org
For partnership inquiries email – Partnership@blacktheatrecoalition.org
For submissions – Submissions@blacktheatrecoaliton.org
Black Broadway Men, Inc. celebrates, motivates, and educates Black men of the Broadway and theatre community through creating unity with each other, finding strength through educational opportunities, and embracing the legacy of those that have come before us because we are the legacy or those to come after us.
Cris Eli Blak is an emerging Black playwright who was raised in Houston, Texas. Always having an interest in art, he began expressing himself in high school through freestyle rapping and spoken word poetry. This led into him eventually finding theatre, where he noticed a lack of stories that represented his community. He is dedicated to telling stories that connect to the things he has been through and the obstacles he’s overcome, focusing on themes such as homelessness, poverty, mental health, masculinity, societal shame, and race relations.
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