Encore Michigan

Black and Brown Theatre’s “Our Voices Project” 6/29

News June 28, 2019 Encore Staff

HAMTRAMCK, Mich.–Black and Brown Theatre is elated to host its first public performance of the Our Voices Project, a unique program in which students write their own short plays and direct adult professional actors in performances of the work.

The Our Voices program launched in 2018 at Mumford High School and has since expanded to GEE White Academy. This past spring, the program reached outside of schools and was brought to the Toledo Correctional Facility. This fall the program the will have a public workshop at Literati in Ann Arbor. Black and Brown Theatre will head to Toronto, Canada this month to present on the project at the Children, Youth and Performance Conference.

The public performance of Our Voices features 15 short plays ranging from 3 minutes to 8 minutes in length and written by 32 Detroit Public School students from Mumford High School and GEE White Academy. Fifteen Detroit area actors of color will bring the students’ work to life in a fully-realized production with props, costumes, and set pieces. Student playwright Ayionna, who will debut her play When Cheating Goes Wrong, says she enjoyed writing because, “…it was something that you could make up and put anything in it, like do whatever you want and then watch it come to life.” Ayionna promises that her play will feature “…something unexpected…something really shocking!”

Tech director Jonathan Curry has a special connection with the project as he is an alumnus of Mumford High School. “It was truly amazing to see the kids write their own stories especially coming from Mumford where they didn’t have a theatre program at all. I think this will put them on a path to want to write more and be leaders in whatever their passion is. Seeing the look on their faces after we performed what they wrote was truly amazing. I want to continue to do this kind of work in the future as it’s both relevant and needed”.  Curry will add lights and sound effects to the students’ performances to help them become fully realized.

The performance and program was made possible thanks to ArtXDetroit who funded this project from a grant submitted by Black and Brown Theatre artistic director and playwright Emilio Rodriguez following his Kresge award win in 2018. Interested parties can make a donation to Black and Brown Theatre to help bring the program to more schools by visiting: www.BlackandBrownTheatre.org

In addition to the presentation of performances, The Our Voices Project also features a post-show meet and greet with student playwrights as well as the actors where complimentary refreshments will be served. The performance is open to the public and Black and Brown Theatre hopes to have a full house to help celebrate the students who worked so hard to complete their plays.

The Our Voices Project is part of Black and Brown Theatre’s mission to create opportunities for theatre artists of color and connect communities by putting the “unity” in opport-unity. Black and Brown

Theatre’s work includes mainstage plays, theatre for families, workshops, classes, school visits, readings,and a database of headshots and resumes from over 100 actors of color that is currently used by over 90 Metro Detroit directors to cast plays, films and special acting projects.

Join Black and Brown Theatre for the inaugural public performance of the Our Voices Theatre Festival Project on Saturday, June 29, 2019 at 4pm at the Planet Ant Black Box Theatre (2357 Caniff St, Hamtramck, MI 48212). Admission is free and open to the public. Street parking available near venue. For more information please visit: www.BlackandBrownTheatre.org.

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