With screenings of theatrical productions becoming more popular – London’s NT Live just reported that Benedict Cumberbatch’s performance in Hamlet has brought in just over $4.5 million from world wide viewers – Center Stage in Baltimore has innovated the genre, making plays in response to recent civil rights issues, taking them outside and sharing them online for free.
My America Too is a series of guerrilla street theater videos addressing the new civil rights movement. Six plays inspired by recent events in America were filmed on the street at locations of high-profile recent killings in Sanford, FL; Cleveland, OH; Ferguson, MO; Staten Island, NY; Baltimore, MD; and Charleston, SC.
“This has been the year of the new civil rights in this country,” says Center Stage Artistic Director Kwame Kwei-Armah. “America is a different country today than when I moved my family here from Britain four years ago to become Center Stage’s artistic director. Freddie Gray and the Baltimore Uprising brought this national debate literally to the front steps of our theater, and there’s no way we could not contribute to this conversation.”
Daily online release of the short plays began Dec. 7 with all six available by Dec. 12. Above is Safety Measures by Lydia R. Diamond (Stick Fly,) featuring Brandon Rashad Butts (son) and Ty Jones (father) and filmed in Ferguson, Mo.
Middle of the Night
By Neil LaBute
Filmed in Staten Island, NY
Available online Dec. 7
That I Know for Sure
By Elyzabeth Gregory Wilder
Filmed in Sanford, FL
Available online Dec. 8
By Kenneth Lin
Filmed in Baltimore, MD
Available online Dec. 10
By Larissa FastHorse
Filmed in Cleveland, OH
Available online Dec. 11
By Kwame Kwei-Armah + Hana Sharif
Filmed in Charleston, SC
Available online Dec. 12
“My America Too supports Center Stage’s mission to move into the 21st Century by making theater free and accessible for all,” Kwei-Armah says. “We’re constantly pushing the boundaries of theater, and we entered new territory with this approach of guerrilla street theater filmed in public locations in single takes.”
In addition to the online component of My America Too, Center Stage will present a live event with My America Too screenings, live performances, and a new civil rights panel discussion at Center Stage at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12, and at 4 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 13.
Two performances courtesy of The New Black Fest (in collaboration with Dominique Morisseau)’s UN-TAMED: Hair Body Attitude – Short Plays by Black Women will be included with selected My America Too performances.
Seating is extremely limited, but the panel discussion will be livestreamed at HowlRound TV and on Center Stage’s Periscope. Questions will be encouraged via Twitter and Periscope. #newcivilrights #myamerica2.
Click here to RSVP to either of the live events.