Despite my joyous Tony watching experience, I felt a huge wave of disappointment. Yes, it was great to see Nikki M. James win a Tony, witness the enormous talents of the cast from the long shuttered production of THE SCOTTSBORO BOYS, be excited by the sleek presence of Samuel L. Jackson, and cheer as Patina Miller and the cast of Sister Act took the stage after an intro from their lead producer Whoopi Goldberg. However, my disappointment came from the lack of work created by people of color. Yes, you can see many African Americans performing on the Great White Way. But no. Our stories are not being told. And if they are told, they are not written by African Americans. And it is not because Black playwrights aren't writing about Black folks. There is a wealth of material out there that can appeal to a wide audience.
African American theatre needs support. Funding. In-kind services. Volunteers. If you are able to provide time, talent or resources to an African American theatre company, please, by all means get involved. Erich McMillan-McCall did just that. He is a New York-based actor who became acutely aware that these companies, long mainstays of employment for artists of color, were stuggling to survive during the economic downturn. He created Project1Voice to raise awareness and funds for African American theatres.
It looks like there will be at least two plays on Broadway this season, both written by African-American women -- The Mountaintop by Katori Hall and Stick Fly by Lydia R. Diamond. Stew, the brillant mind behind PASSING STRANGE will return to The Public Theater with a new work about a Black gospel artist and a White record producer. And you know that Woodie King, Jr's New Federal Theatre will offer something rich and provocative for our theatrical palates.