Benefit reading for African-American Theater | Program Notes

Benefit reading for African-American Theater

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All arts groups struggle for funding, but today as in the past, African-American theater groups have to fight harder than most.

This Monday, Pittsburgh’s most venerable black theater group, Kuntu Repertory Theatre, joins 18 other companies around the country in a one-day national initiative to boost awareness of the issue. The vehicle, naturally, is theater.

1 Voice, 1 Play, 1 Day is an initiative of Project1Voice, a New York-based advocacy group for black playwrights and black theater companies. The idea is that all the companies will produce benefit staged readings of the same play on the same day.

The play, not incidentally, is an interesting one: Trouble in Mind, by Alice Childress.

The 1955 work, according to Project1Voice, is “a powerfully incendiary and satiric drama based on the conflict of not compromising one’s artistic integrity. This play within a play follows the journey of a mixed-raced cast in 1957 as they embark upon rehearsals for a racially charged play. Childress shows the actors’ complaints, directors’ frustration and even with the well-meaning efforts of theater professionals to overcome their racial feelings. As the play unfolds each character is revealed, along with their cavalier approach to the scripts they hold.”

Aside from the Kuntu performance, readings are scheduled in cities including New York, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Birmingham, Dallas, Houston and San Francisco.

And lest you doubt 1 Voice, 1 Play, 1 Day is a big deal, actors involved include: Andre DeShields, Leslie Uggams, LaChanze and Bill Irwin (in New York); Peter Coyote (San Francisco); and John Mahoney (Chicago). And Irma P. Hall leads the Dallas cast.

The Kuntu staging will feature local actors and be directed by Stevie Akers. It takes place at the August Wilson Center for African American Culture, 980 Liberty Ave., Downtown, at 8 p.m. Mon., June 20. Tickets are $5 and proceeds benefit Kuntu.

For more information, call 412-624-8498 or email kunturepertorytheater@gmail.com

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