The Future Classics Festival Kicks Off Tonight @ the Shabazz Center

Between June 25th-30th, The Classical Theatre of Harlem will be hosting a series of back-to-back readings at The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center at 3940 Broadway (at the corner of 165 and Broadway) as part of our inaugural Future Classics Festival.

The festival will feature full-length readings of a unique collection of high-quality plays by some of today’s finest writers.

Admission is free and everyone is encouraged to attend.

The festival schedule is as follows:

Monday, June 25, 2012

By Pia N. Wilson
Directed by Niegel Smith

GENERATION T follows two Marines – one on psych leave and the other AWOL – and their drug-addled friends as they try to cope with life in post-9/11 America – the only America they’ve known.

Pia N. Wilson received a 2009 Fellowship from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. She is a member of the 2009 Project Footlight team of composers and librettists and a member of the 2008 inaugural Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater. Pia is also a 2009 resident in the Women’s Work Lab at New Perspectives Theatre.

Her full-length drama, Red Rooster, was a part of The Classical Theatre of Harlem’s Future Classics reading series as well as the Emerging Writers Spotlight Series at The Public Theater. All the Pretty Girls was featured in The Looking Glass Theatre’s Spring 2009 Writer/Director Forum. The River Pure for Healing was part of the 2008 Resilience of the Spirit play festival. Her play, Tree of Life, received a 2007 workshop production at The Red Room Theater.

Short plays and one-acts: A Goddess Once (Horse Trade Theater’s “The Fire This Time” play festival); The Other Side of the Red Sea (Three Monos’ Minutes Before… Short Play Festival);End of the World (New Perspectives Theatre’s “By Popular Demand” festival); Dressed In Your Dreams (Stagecrafter’s New Works Play Festival); Do You Proud (Eclectic Theater Company’s “Got a Minute?” play festival); Whatever and Delicately (Groove Mama Ink; The Looking Glass Theatre’s Spring 2008 Writer/Director Forum; Teatro del Pueblo’s 2010 Political Theater Festival); The Rooster Never Crows (OneHeart Productions).

In 2003, Pia’s short story, Dressed In Your Dreams, was published by The Summerset Review. The following year, a short film she penned, Blinding Goldfish, debuted at the New Zealand Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. It was also shown at the Pan-African Film Festival in Los Angeles and the Trenton Film Festival in New Jersey.

Niegel Smith  is a performance artist and theater director.  His New York directing credits include Lady Rizo: Ordained (Joe’s Pub), Seed (Classical Theatre of Harlem and Hip Hop Theater Festival), Neighbors (The Public Theater), Ether Steeds (Fringe Award – Best Ensemble), We Declare You a Terrorist (Summer Play Festival at The Public Theater), Rainy Days & Mondays (Fringe Award – Fringe Encores), Maud– The Madness (Phoenix Theatre Ensemble), One For The Road and LIMBS: A Pageant (HERE Arts Center).

He is Associate Director to Bill T. Jones on the Tony Award winning Broadway musical FELA! and has assisted directors Jo Bonney, James Lapine, Kristin Marting, Richard Nelson and George C. Wolfe. Niegel, a graduate of Dartmouth College, has received grants and fellowships from Theater Communications Group, the Van Lier Fund, and the Tucker Foundation.

With Todd Shalom, Niegel has co-conceived and staged so you’re one of them now?, this was the only place i knew to go, December 31, Procession and Fallout, mass rituals in public settings. He grew up in the North Carolina piedmont, fishing with his dad, shopping with his mom and inventing tall-tale fantasies with his two younger brothers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

by Jocelyn Bioh
Directed by LA Williams

African Americans tells the amusing yet bittersweet story of two married immigrants from Africa who come to America full of dreams, hopes and the want to be filthy rich. When their expectations meet reality, the life that they built for themselves and for their three children begins to straddle the line of an American dream won or an African life lost.

Jocelyn Bioh is a proud native New Yorker; Jocelyn holds degrees in English and Theatre from The Ohio State University and MFA in Theatre – Playwriting from Columbia University. Previous acting credits include: Seed (Classical Theatre of Harlem), Marcus; or the Secret of Sweet (City Theatre – PA), American Schemes (SummerStage NYC), Neighbors (The Public Theater), and Lightskin/Darkskin which she co-wrote and starred in with Fire This Time founding playwright Kelley Girod. As a playwright, Jocelyn has been produced at Columbia University, and she was a finalist in Southern Rep Ruby Prize Award for her play African Americans.

LA Williams (director) is a 2010 member of Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York City. His work has been seen in cities across the nation such as: New York City, Boston, Washington, D.C, Atlanta and San Francisco-Bay Area. In 2012, he was granted the opportunity to observe director Emily Mann of McCarter Theatre Center and to assist actress Nicole Ari Parker on the Broadway production of Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire. Selected directing credits include: Dominique Morriseau’s The Masterpiece (Harlem 9’s 2011 48 Hours in Harlem Festival); August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson (Summer Repertory Theatre; 2011 winner of the San Francisco area-BroadwayWorld Award); Jesse Cameron Alick’s Scorpion and the Fox and Jerome A. Parker’s DIG (The Fire This Time Festival); Garlia Cornelia Jones’ Shoppin’ for N.I.G.G.A.S  (The Cell Theatre); staged reading of Tough Titty by Oni Faida Lampley (The Black Directors Studio); Jerome A. Parkers’ House of Dinah: or The Black Queens (The Black Directors Studio); William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline (Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab); Do It, Miss Celie (Woodruff Arts Center/14th Street Playhouse); and a workshop production of A. Peter Bailey’s Malcolm, Martin, Medgar (Malcolm X Leadership Workshop/Warehouse Theater) in Washington, D.C.

He was the 2009 Directing Fellow to Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company in Atlanta, GA. There he assistant directed several productions such as: David Feldshuh’s Miss Evers Boys (dir: Kenny Leon), Pearl Cleage’s Blues For an Alabama Sky (dir: Andrea Frye) and assistant director on the acclaimed Atlanta production of For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf (dir: Jasmine Guy). He also accompanied Mr. Leon to Boston to assist on Huntington Theatre Company’s production of August Wilson’s Fences (dir: Kenny Leon). In 2010, he was among 70 directors from all over the world, invited to become a member of the prestigious Lincoln Center Theater Directors Lab in New York City. LA has been a guest director, artist-in residence and served as directing faculty at colleges and universities including: Santa Rosa Junior College and Howard University-BFA acting program. He directed for Brandies University’s MFA Acting-Thesis Projects in 2008.

Dramatic Training: (AM) in Theatre Education, Ph.D prep/Directing Emphasis from Emerson College (recipient of Graduate Presidential Fellowship for excellence in Theatre) and holds the (AB) in Theatre Arts and Performance from Alabama State University (recipient of Theatre Arts Scholarship).

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

By Camille Darby
Directed by LA Williams

Chloe Haynes—a young, aspiring painter—has just left behind small beginnings to take on a promising new life in New York during the Harlem Renaissance; however, she soon discovers that the price of her success is a cost she may have to pay forever.

Camille Darby was born in Jamaica, West Indies, but migrated to New York City with her family at 6 years old. Her constant attempts at adjusting to American culture—she soon discovered—were best manifested through her writing. It was her first play Mother, May I? written as a high school student during the Theatre Development Fund’s Residency Arts Program that drew the attention of acclaimed playwright, Wendy Wasserstein. With the guidance and encouragement of Wasserstein, the budding playwright continued to study theatre, literature and film at Sarah Lawrence College where she received her B.A. in 2005.  Darby is the recipient of the 2008 Bronx Recognizes Its Own (BRIO) playwriting prize from the Bronx Council on the Arts for her full-length play Lords Resistance. Most recently, Lords Resistance was part of the Horse Trade Theatre Group’s Fire This Time Festival 2012 reading series. Her play, Exodus was also produced as part of the sold-out The Fire This Time Festival 2011 showcase. Darby is a 2011 finalist for the Van Lier Fellowship program at The Lark Play Development Center, and a 2012 Women’s Project Lab finalist. She holds an M.F.A (2007) in Dramatic Writing from New York University’s, Tisch School of the Arts.

Thurday, June 28, 2012

By Ayanna Maia Saulsberry
Directed by LA Williams

 KING N*GGA follows a young boy’s haunting decision to abandon his mother when a goddess grants his wish. His struggles with love, money, and fame personify controversies in Hip-hop culture over the past twenty-five years and its ever-changing identity within the African Diaspora.

Ayanna Maia fuses African-centered mythology with pop culture, and lyricism with drama. Former assistant to Spike Lee and currently a CBS TV Writing Assistant, Ayanna received an MFA in Dramatic Writing from NYU, a Dramatist Guild Fellowship, a Kennedy Center MFA Workshop, and Lorraine Hansberry Playwrighting Award.

 As an artist and a scholar born in the African Diaspora of Chicago’s Southside, she became a playwright apprentice in the distinguished Gallery 37 Youth Arts program at the age of 14.  Ayanna grew up studying various writing forms and cultural traditions.  Now Brooklyn based she continues to “use drama to make people laugh-listen-move-change”. Much of her writing is influenced by her teachers and advisors: Spike Lee, Suzan-Lori Parks, Diana Son, Janet Neipris, Richard Wesley and Marsha Norman.

Her current projects are: God is Wild– a screenplay about international drug trafficking in Brazil, and 510 Murders– a play about Chicago’s youth violence in the Obama era.

Friday, June 29, 2012

By Kemp Powers
Directed by Carl Cofield

On February 25, 1964, Cassius Clay defeated Sonny Liston to become heavyweight champion of the world. After the fight, a massive celebration was planned at one of Miami’s most luxurious hotels. However, Clay skipped out on the festivities and instead headed for the black ghetto, where he spent the evening in conversation with his friends Malcolm X, the singer Sam Cooke and Jim Brown, the great Cleveland Browns running back. What begins as a celebration of the unlikely champ’s win turns into a debate on the future of the struggle that helps determine the ultimate direction of these four friends.

Kemp Powers is a journalist, author, storyteller and playwright. He has covered news for the past 18 years as a writer and reporter for publications ranging from Esquire to Forbes. He was a 2002-2003 recipient of a Knight-Wallace Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan. His Kirkus Reviews-starred book The Shooting: A Memoir was published in 2004. He is a playwright and company member at Los Angeles’ Rogue Machine Theatre, which was the winner of the 2010 and 2011 Ovation and Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Awards for Best Production. As a storyteller, he has spun tales for The Moth, Rant and Rave, Sit n’ Spin, I Love a Good Story and in his one-man storytelling show “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.” He really likes Bosc pears.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

by Harrison David Rivers
directed by Sherri Eden Barber

Jonah Irby keeps people at a distance—his preternaturally gifted eight-year old daughter, graduate degree pursuing best friend and nosy grandmother. But when an unexpected phone call from a former lover re-opens a painful wound, Jonah is forced to turn to his friends and family for support. The Bandaged Place is a play about the places we go when we’re hurt and the people who help us get back home.

Harrison David Rivers’ play When Last We Flew (Sundance Theater Lab 2010/Lincoln Center Directors’ Lab/Freedom Train) received the 2011 GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Off Off Broadway Play, the 2010 FringeNYC Excellence in Playwriting Award and was named one of the Top 10 LGBTQ 2010 FringeNYC productions by The Advocate. Other plays include LYDIE, OR (S)HE WHO LOOKS INSIDE, AWAKES (Williamstown/New Dramatists), The Bandaged Place (Harlem Stage/New York Theater Workshop/Dartmouth College), And She Said, He Said, I Said Yes (Joe’s Pub/HERE Arts Center), Fell (New School for Drama Theater/Columbia University), Misquoted Texts (Be Company/3LD/The Movement Theater Company), Jack Perry Is Alive (And Dating) (New York Musical Theater Festival/Ars Nova) and Look Upon Our Lowliness, A Spoken Word Elegy For A Chorus Of Male Voices (The Movement Theater Company). His short plays have been produced at the Atlantic Theater, Atlantic Stage 2, Second Stage, Ars Nova, Dixon Place, the 45th Street Theater, Joe’s Pub, Harlem School for the Arts and the American Airlines Theater on Broadway. His monologue play Not Resentful At All was presented as part of Headlong Theatre Company’s 2011 production of Decade directed by Rupert Goold. The piece is also published in “DECADE: An Anthology of New Plays About the Legacy of 9/11”. Harrison is a NYTW Usual Suspect, a recipient of the Emerging Artist of Color Fellowship (New York Theater Workshop) and the Van Lier Fellowship (New Dramatists). He is also a member of the Old Vic/New Voices Network, the Queer Art Mentorship and the Emerging Writers Group at The Public Theater. Harrison is a graduate of Kenyon College and the School of the Arts at Columbia University.

Sherri Eden Barber is a New York-based theater director. Recent directing credits include: Herman Kline’s Midlife Crisis with Adam Lefevre (The Beckett Theatre, Theatre Row/At Play), Empire of the Trees and Tilly and Bill (Abingdon Theatre/Wizard Oil Productions), Dance Lessons (At Play–winner of the Samuel French Short Play Festival), References To Salvador Dali Make Me Hot (Hangar Theatre-Wedge), Red Light Winter (59E59), Hylan Park with Annabella Sciorri, How To Quit Smoking and Baptism (Atlantic), 365 Days/365 Plays (The Public), Sometimes After Dinner (Youngblood/EST), Where We Are Right Now at the American Airlines Theater on Broadway (The Pink Campaign), BENT (The New School for Drama), Orestes 2.0 (Eden Productions/Site-Specific), and This is Our Youth (Eden Productions/Site-Specific). She has developed new work with The Orchard Project, New York Theatre Workshop, Primary Stages and The Old Vic.

Her assistant directing credits include: Side Effects with David Auburn (MCC) and Close UpSpace with Sheryl Kaller (O’Neill Theatre Center). She has also assistant directed for Christian Parker, Jessica Bauman and Leigh Kilton-Smith (The 24 Hour Play Company/American Airlines Theater) and Moises Kaufman (The 24 Hour Musicals/Joe’s Pub).

Sherri is a Drama League Directing Fellow. She was awarded the SDCF Observership on The New York Idea with Mark Brokaw (Atlantic) and is a member of At Play, the Old Vic/New Voices Network, and was the recipient of the 2009 US/UK Exchange Award for Directing.

Sherri received her M.F.A. in Directing from The New School for Drama and her B.A. in Women, Performance Art & Activism from University of Maryland, College Park.

For more info:

Check out:

Freedom’s Sisters – The Untold Story

Uptown Gem – The Malcolm X & Dr. Betty Shabazz Center

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