SHAKESPEARE THEATRE COMPANY ANNOUNCES COLLABORATIONS WITH HOWARD UNIVERSITY, BUSBOYS AND POETS, AND THE CENTER FOR HELLENIC STUDIES FOR AMEN, BALDWIN!: A LIVING CELEBRATION

February 3, 2020, Washington, D.C.: In collaboration with Howard University, Busboys and Poets, and Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies, Shakespeare Theatre Company is announcing a series of special events and programming entitled Amen, Baldwin!: A Living Celebration throughout February and March. Events will occur at both Shakespeare Theatre Company theatres as well as other locations throughout Washington, D.C.

Amen, Baldwin! celebrates the legacy of James Baldwin and his impact upon Washington, D.C., uniting institutions, community partners, and local artists and activists, as his groundbreaking drama The Amen Corner graces the stage at Sidney Harman Hall (610 F Street), February 11-March 15.  Baldwin’s classic family drama had its world premiere in Washington, D.C. at Howard University in 1955, cementing Baldwin’s artistic influence in the District and anticipating his political legacy, including his involvement in the March on Washington and his frequent collaborations with civil rights leaders, politicians, and policy makers.

Honoring this history, Shakespeare Theatre Company has worked closely with Howard University on a College Night for students attending a performance of The Amen Corner that will also include a special performance by the cast of Howard University’s upcoming production of Pippin and a talkback featuring Howard faculty and alumni on February 22.

Busboys and Poets, a cultural hub for artists, activists, and writers located in seven distinctive neighborhoods throughout Washington, will have a temporary eighth location pop-up in the STC Gift Shop, offering books and merchandise related to James Baldwin’s works, including a limited-edition T-shirt designed by Busboys and Poets founder: artist, activist, and restaurateur Andy Shallal. Busboys and Poets will also curate spoken word performances with Sons of Baldwin and Pages Mattam at STC while sharing its own performance venue with the cast of The Amen Corner. Cast members of The Amen Corner will also participate in Weary Blues: Sermons and Blues – A Langston Hughes Birthday Celebration at Busboys and Poets on February 26.

Harvard University’s Center for Hellenic Studies will host a free panel related to James Baldwin’s literary works and the Center’s current exhibit Black Classicists: A Mural Mosaic on March 2 with a light reception. Actress E. Faye Butler and Howard University Professor Caroline Starks will be amongst the invited speakers for the evening.

“Our regular opportunities for engagement have been amped up for Amen, Baldwin!” explains STC’s Audience Enrichment Manager LeeAnet Noble. “It was important for us to make these connections throughout our community in celebration of James Baldwin. Even Opening Night will be elevated with the artist Lionel Daniels painting a large-scale portrait of Baldwin.”

Sidney Harman Hall will be transformed into a site of new experiences for regular patrons, and opening its doors to new artists, musicians, and members of the community. The lobbies of Sidney Harman Hall will display artwork by local artists, including Paula Whaley, sister of James Baldwin and a sculptor living in Baltimore, and performance painter Lionel Daniels.  The National Museum of African American History and Culture has granted permissions to STC to reproduce images of rare materials from its collections for an accompanying exhibit about the Washington history of The Amen Corner at Sidney Harman Hall. Local gospel and jazz artists will be invited to perform in Sidney Harman Hall before the evening’s performances on selected dates. 

All dates, artists, and events are subject to change. New events will continue to be posted. For the most current information about Amen, Baldwin!: A Living Celebration, please visit the website: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/amen-baldwin/

PROGRAMMING:

Film Screenings

Ticketed events include a free film series hosted at the Michael R. Klein Theatre at the Lansburgh (450 7th St. NW), featuring free screenings of two recent James Baldwin-focused cinematic masterpieces. First, the award-winning romance If Beale Street Could Talk will be presented at 2 p.m., and the documentary I Am Not Your Negro at 7 p.m. on Sunday, January 19.

Lectures and Discussions

During Page and Stage, explore the production with STC’s Artistic staff and local scholars connecting the performance history of Baldwin’s play with its contemporary resonances on Sunday, February 16 in the Forum at Sidney Harman Hall from 5 p.m.-6 p.m.: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/page-and-stage-amen-02-16-20/

Audiences may immerse themselves in the world of the play with pre- and post-show discussions during Bookends on Wednesday, February 19. First, chat with STC’s Education and Artistic staff about James Baldwin, the production’s historical context, and the director’s vision for the play. After attending the performance, participants are invited to meet the actors after the curtain falls for a talkback: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/bookends-amen-02-19/

For several years, Busboys and Poets has partnered with the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel to present a birthday celebration for Langston Hughes with a reading of Hughes’ The Weary Blues, Jazz, discussions and a reception. This year’s Weary Blues: Sermons and Blues – A Langston Hughes Birthday Celebration will also include cast members of The Amen Corner discussing Baldwin’s legacy on Wednesday, February 26 from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm at Busboys and Poets, 14th &V St. NW. For more information, please visit the Busboys and Poets’ event webpage: https://www.busboysandpoets.com/events/th-evt-11524533/

Center for Hellenic Studies: On March 2, the Center for Hellenic Studies will host a panel of scholars and artists, including The Amen Corner actress E. Faye Butler and Associate Professor of Classics at Howard University Caroline Starks discussing James Baldwin’s artistic legacy. Other guests to be announced later. The event will run from 6-9 p.m. at their venue, located at 3100 Whitehaven St NW. The event will include a light reception. More details, including registration, coming soon. 

STC’s Book Club will focus on a discussion of Baldwin’s semi-autobiographical novel Go Tell It on the Mountain on Tuesday, March 3 at 6 p.m. in the Forum at Sidney Harman Hall. FREE, but registration required: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/education/family-and-community/book-club/

On Sunday, March 8, participants are invited to a series of conversations from 2-5 p.m. to journey deeper into The Amen Corner, guided by a diverse group of panelists during ASIDESLive. During this symposium, experts in James Baldwin and the Black Church will be joined by members of the cast of The Amen Corner to delve into the themes and issues of Baldwin’s drama. FREE, but registration is required. Location and Registration will be announced soon.

Arrive early to learn more about the production in an ASL-interpreted conversation during Brush Up, followed by an Open-Captioned performance on Tuesday, March 10. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/brush-up-amen-03-10-20/

Performances

Lemond Brown, better known as IMAG, will perform at the Forum in Sidney Harman Hall on Thursday, February 13 from 6-7 p.m. Blending soulful blues and funk rhythms with international flavor, IMAG’s unique style of hip hop reflects the musical influences and social issues contained in Baldwin’s play. FREE, but registration required: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/happenings-at-the-harman-02-13-20/

 The Sons of Baldwin is a spoken word duo made of Kenneth Something & Duke the Root. As same gender loving poets, they have never asked for a seat at the table. Instead, they flip the table upside down and create their own path with their bold poetry and thought-provoking messages in line with that of James Baldwin. Witness as they bring the personal and political through language and energetic performances at the Sidney Harman Hall on February 21st 7:20 p.m. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/amen-baldwin/

Pianist Jeffrey Corry, “Alexandria’s Maestro and Soloist Extraordinaire” will also perform on Friday, February 21. A graduate of Howard University who is pursuing a Master’s Degree in Music Education from Trinity Washington University, Corry has recorded several gospel instrumental CDs through Divine Intervention Christian Studios in Clinton, M.D. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/amen-baldwin/

Busboys and Poets’ Director of Poetry Events Pages Matam, an international artist, writer, organizer, & educator from Cameroon, Central Africa, currently residing in Washington D.C. will perform spoken word pieces from his award collection The Heart of a Comet (Write Bloody, 2014) on Friday, February 28 at 7:30 p.m. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/amen-baldwin/

After holding their Youth Poetry Grand Slam Finals at Sidney Harman Hall last spring, Words Beats & Life will return to the Forum to present a spoken word performance reflecting the themes of The Amen Corner on Thursday, March 5 from 6-7 p.m. Since 2000, Words Beats & Life have been unapologetic advocates for the transformative power of hip-hop culture in all its forms, empowering artists to relentlessly create and refine systems that demonstrate this notion of positive change through creativity. FREE, but registration required.

Lionel Daniels will return to STC to share his unique performance painting techniques for several events during the Living Celebration, including creating a new work for ShakeFlow, which will include a performance by the liturgical dance troupe Excellence Dance Academy on Saturday, March 7 from 5-6p.m. in the Forum at Sidney Harman Hall. FREE, but registration required: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/shake-flow-03-07-20/

Workshops

Lionel Daniels will also teach a Paint and Sip course ($30), in which aspiring artists will be guided in completing a portrait of James Baldwin while enjoying wines from STC’s preferred wine sponsors on January 31 from 7-9 p.m. $30 includes instruction, painting supplies, and drinks. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/paint-and-sip/

Dive into James Baldwin’s hard-hitting play and examine the process of bringing this daring work to life during weekly Shakespeare Salon seminars on Fridays, from February 14–March 13, 1-3 p.m. in the Patron’s Lounge. Tuition: $300. https://tickets.shakespearetheatre.org/25612/25618

Jasmine M. Rush, a graduate of the Academy for Classical Acting, who plays Ida Jackson in The Amen Corner, will teach a Master Class to introduce participants to performance techniques inspired by STC’s production of The Amen Corner on Thursday, February 27 from 7-10 p.m. in Sidney Harman Hall. (Tuition: $30.) A second workshop with additional members of the cast will take place on Monday, March 2. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/education/classes-and-camps/classes/

Specialty Nights

Young Prose Night on Friday, February 14: Designed with young professionals in mind, Shakespeare Theatre Company’s Young Prose Nights invite savvy theatregoers ages 21-35 for a fantastic performance and an invitation to a post-show reception with the cast, including complimentary drinks courtesy of our partners On Tap Magazine. ($35 for patrons 35 years or younger) http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/tickets-and-events/special-offers/under-35/

Shakespeare Theatre Company will host College Night on Saturday, February 22, welcoming performers from local colleges and universities, including gospel, jazz, and other musical and dance performers. The cast of Howard University’s upcoming musical Pippin will perform jazzy excerpts from the play in a pre-show lobby performance. After the evening’s performance of The Amen Corner, audience members are invited to stay for a moderated discussion with local faculty and members of the cast. Tickets for College Night will be specially priced for college students with current student IDs. http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/amen-baldwin/

Accessible Performances

Shakespeare Theatre Company’s theatres are accessible to all patrons.

Open-Captioned Performances: Thursday, March 5 at 7:30 p.m., and Tuesday, March 10 at 7:30 p.m.

Audio-Described Performance: Saturday, March 7 at 2 p.m.

ABOUT THE AMEN CORNER

In a 1950s storefront church in Harlem, Pastor Margaret Alexander rails at her congregation and her teenaged son for their vices. With a gospel choir singing of redemption in one room and her son bonding with his ailing father over their love of jazz in the next, Margaret must face the music herself when a figure from her own troubled past returns. James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner tackles the role of the church in the Black community in this landmark work, written immediately after his breakthrough novel Go Tell It on the Mountain. Whitney White, winner of the Susan Stroman Director Award, makes her STC directorial debut in this powerful production rich with music, humanity, and Baldwin’s lyrical prose.

Previews begin February 11. The Amen Corner runs until March 15. Tickets are priced from $35-120. For more information about The Amen Corner or to order tickets please visit our website: http://www.shakespearetheatre.org/events/the-amen-corner-19-20/ 

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