Season of Strength features poetry celebration and the Washington premiere of Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door
(Washington, DC) African Continuum Theatre opens its spring season March 7 with Poets on Stage, an evening of poetry and music featuring one of the original, internationally-known Last Poets Abiodun Oyewole, and Washington, DC poets, Kim Bey, Beny Blaq and Jade Foster at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. The theme of strength continues with the Washington premiere of award-winning playwright Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door, directed by Walter Dallas, former Artistic Director of Freedom Theatre in Philadelphia and current senior artist-in-residence at the University of Maryland/College Park.
Barfield crafts a story centered on Lewis, an African-American math professor. This deeply touching, humorous, and riveting story explores issues of cultural identity, stereotypes of the African-American, and what it means to be a Black male in America. This journey is woven together through the African tradition of oral storytelling. Blue Door opens April 16 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in the historic H Street corridor in Northeast Washington.
“This season has truly been a season of strength,” remarks Executive Director JoAnn M. Williams. “Our programming embodies the mission of African Continuum Theatre, showcasing new works from talented artists of color to reaching out to the community with in-depth discussion series.”
“It is also a thrill to have Abiodun and Walter Dallas on our stage,” Williams continues. “They are tremendous artists with a national and international presence.”
Born in the wake of the civil rights movement, The Last Poets tackled racism, African-American identity, and political unrest with their melodic form of poetry with such titles and recordings including The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and This is Madness. The Poets continued the African tradition of oral history that is the foundation of African-American theatre. Their dramatic performances captivate audiences and have long been considered as a pre-cursor to hip-hop music. They have been featured in numerous recordings and in music videos with artists including Nas, Kanye West and Common.
Walter Dallas makes his Washington directorial debut with Tanya Barfield’s Blue Door. For 16 seasons, Dallas served as Artistic Director of Freedom Theatre, Philadelphia’s oldest African American theatre. Under Dallas’ tenure, the theatre became nationally-known and attracted performers including James Baldwin, August Wilson, Ntozake Shange, Roger Guenveur Smith, Sonia Sanchez, Rubin Santiago-Hudson, Amiri Baraka, Lynn Nottage, and Denzel Washington to its stages. Currently, Dallas is the Senior Artist-in-Residence at the University of Maryland’s Department of Theatre.
African Continuum Theatre Company
3523 12th Street, NE, 2nd Floor ● Washington, DC 20017 ● ph: 202.529.5763 ● fax: 202.529.5764
African Continuum Theatre is the only professional African American theatre company in Washington, DC. It was conceived in 1989 as a Coalition formed to assist the various small black community theatres improving the quality and visibility of their work. In 1995, the Coalition transitioned into a theatre company whose primary mission was to produce professional plays for the general community that would entertain, enlighten and educate from an African American perspective.
In its 14 seasons, African Continuum Theatre has presented over 30 fully-produced plays. These plays have included such time tested favorites as Lorraine Hansberry's A Raisin in the Sun, and James Baldwin's Amen Corner and many world premieres by new African American playwrights, including the award-winning Torn from the Headlines and Kingdom.
Additionally, African Continuum Theatre has received numerous accolades and awards, including 14 Helen Hayes Awards nominations, 3 Helen Hayes Awards, the Washington Post Award for Distinguished Service to the Community, and a Mayor's Arts Award.
African Continuum Theatre is committed to producing work that celebrates the African-American theatre legacy and nurtures the growing patronage and literacy of the early 20th Century African-American theatre tradition.
March 7, 2009
Walter E. Washington Convention Center
African Continuum Theatre presents a special evening of poetry and music
featuring one of the original, internationally known Last Poets, Abiodun Oyewole and
Washington, DC poets, Kim Bey, Beny Blaq and Jade Foster.
Tickets: $25, $50 and $100
Keyword: Poets on Stage
by Tanya Barfield
directed by Walter Dallas
April 16 - May 3, 2009
Atlas Performing Arts Center
Lewis' life is unraveling. He is an African-American math professor who refuses to join the
Million Man March. His wife leaves him, and he is forced to go on sabbatical. During a night of
insomnia, Lewis is visited by the ghosts of his ancestors. Lewis struggles through his crisis of
identity and culture examining what it means to be Black in America.
for tickets: 202/399.7993 or www.atlasarts.org
for information on all events and productions: www.africancontinuumtheatre.com or 202/529.5763