BET presents its 5th-Annual Black Playwrights Festival


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Black Ensemble Theater presents

The 5th-Annual Black Playwrights Festival

DECEMBER 7-14, 2009

Jackie Taylor, Founder and Executive Director of Black Ensemble Theater, is proud to announce the 5th Annual Black Playwrights Festival, produced by the Black Playwrights Initiative (BPI). running from Monday, December 7 through Monday, December 14, 2009.

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The Black Playwrights Festival was created by playwright Jackie Taylor to provide adequate exposure to the members of the Black Playwrights Initiative (BPI), offer a professional platform to have members’ works produced, and bring attention to the high quality of work that African American playwrights from Chicago have to offer. The BPI is a program created and developed by Taylor for the purpose of highlighting Chicago’s rich community of African American playwrights and to help strengthen the pool of Chicago playwrights by providing a forum for play readings, year round classes, workshops and resources. Additionally, the BPI was created to provide a continuum of scripts for the Black Ensemble Theater, helping to expose playwrights on both a local and national level.

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Highlights of the Black Playwrights Festival include readings of “Nothin but the Blues” written by Joe Plummer and David Barr; “The Dancesical, a play performed through dance choreographed by Rueben Echoles; and “The Clark Sisters” written by Dawn Bless Mitchell.

All performances will take place at the Black Ensemble Theater, 4520 N. Beacon St. Single tickets are $10.00 per night. A “Playwrights Pass” can be purchased for $30.00 and can be used for entrance to any night. Valet Parking is available for $8.00.

Below the fold is a complete schedule for the 5th Annual Black Playwrights Festival. All plays are works in progress and the first acts will be the only acts presented for the reading. Audiences will have the opportunity to discuss each reading with the writers and offer feedback and reaction to each work.


Monday, December 7

Opening Ceremony

Honoring African-American Female Playwrights

7:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. Food and wine reception

7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Readings

An evening dedicated to outstanding African American Female Playwrights, the works of seven female playwrights will open the 5th Annual Black Playwrights Festival. Audience members will hear enticing 10 minute excerpts from the works of Jasmine Coles, Lillian Mitchum, Dawn Bless Mitchell, Jamana Jamison, Jackie Taylor and Qween Wicks. There will be a special presentation to Nambi Kelly and excerpts from her works will be the featured production of the evening.

Tuesday, December 8

Memory Lane: The Imperfect Story of the Perfect Angel” (The Story of Minnie Ripperton) written by Cory Wright

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Reading of Act One

8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Discussion

Loving You,” “Inside My Love,” and” Memory Lane” are just a few of the hits from legendary songbird Minnie Ripperton. This story explores the life and times of the woman with the 5 octave range. Cory Wright is a three year member of the BPI. His play “The Glamorous Life” was featured in the second Summer Series of 2009.

Wednesday, December 9

Nothin’ but the Blues” written by Joe Plummer and David Barr

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Reading of Act One

8:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Discussion

Teresa’s was a famous hot spot in Chicago for the blues and every blues legend played there. This is the story of that famous club and the stars that came through. Joe Plummer and David Barr have been members of the BPI since its inception five years ago. As a team, they co-wrote the highly successful production of “I Gotcha: The Story of Joe Tex and the Soul Clan,” which was produced by the Black Ensemble Theater in 2009.

Thursday, December 10

The Clark Sisters” written by Dawn Bless Mitchell

7:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m. Reading of Act One

7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. Discussion

With hits such as “You Brought the Sunshine into My Life,” few gospel acts can match The Clark Sisters. This story is a tribute to one of the most famous gospel groups, featuring some of their greatest hits. Dawn Bless Mitchell has been a member of the BPI for three years. Her outstanding script, co-written with Rueben Echoles, “Sounds So Good Makes You Wanna Holler” was produced by the Black Ensemble Theater in 2007.

Friday, December 11 (Late Night)

The Dancesical" conceived and choreographed by Rueben Echoles

11:00 p.m. – 11:45 p.m. Performance

11:45 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Discussion

The script for this performance is not a verbal script, it is a movement script told only through dance. “The Dancesical” centers on the Princess Erin and her search for her one true love after a terrible storm has ravaged their kingdom and separated them. Rueben D. Echoles is the Associate Director of the Black Ensemble Theater. He is currently writing the next mainstage production of the Black Ensemble season entitled “My Brothers Keeper: The Story of The Nicholas Brothers,” which will be staged in early 2010.

Saturday, December 12

Ladies and Gentleman” written by Jasmine Coles

3:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. Reading of Act One

4:00 p.m. – 4:30 p.m. Discussion

Inspired by real events from 1939, “Ladies and Gentlemen” is a peek at Black organized crime on the South Side of Chicago. Taking place in the parlor of a Black Belt Bishop – Vice Lord and leader of the South Side Gentlemen – is charged with maintaining the empire his brother built before he was murdered. Ily suddenly finds his hands full with a conniving mayor, a wild ex convict and two dead bodies. Jasmine Coles has been a member of the BPI for two years. She is completing coursework for a master’s degree in Performance Art Management at Columbia College Chicago. “Ladies and Gentlemen” is her sixth play.

Saturday, December 12 (Late Night)

An Evening with Johnny Mathis” written by Tony Duwon

11:00 p.m. – 12:00 a.m. Reading of Act One

12:00 a.m. – 12:30 a.m. Discussion

Few have been able to match the voice of Johnny Mathis. This story reflects his life and his love for music. Tony Duwon has been a member of the BPI for one year. He is a consummate actor, singer and playwright. “An Evening with Johnny Mathis” is his first writing of a complete script.

Sunday, December 13

Plays In 15 Minutes (The Shorties) produced by Wendell Etherly

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

These bite-sized plays are no longer than 15 minutes. The productions include:

§ “Legacy” written by Nambi E. Kelley and directed by Daniel Bryant

§ “Passing Us By” written by Jasmine Coles and directed by Daryl Brooks

§ “Serial Dater” written by Joe Plummer and directed by Dawn Mitchell

§ “The Great Melting Pot” written by Wendell Etherly and directed by Daryl Brooks

§ “Sound” written by Jamana Jamison and directed by Daryl Brooks

Monday, December 14

7:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Black Playwrights Festival Closing Night

The Writers Party & Poetry “A Minute on the Microphone

The 5th Annual Black Playwrights Festival will conclude with an open mic party celebration, with dancing and opportunities to deliver a one minute performance. 

2 Responses

  1. […] others. Black Ensemble Theater, 4520 N. Beacon St. $10 per night; $30 for a festival pass. Click here for […]

  2. Hi Chicago,

    I’m not a local playwright, but I’m trying to get exposure for a work-in-progress that was once produced many years ago and that I’ve recently decided to focus on and see if I can garner any interest in. Please visit my website where you can review the script and listen to some sample song from the musical “Pomade.” Thanks.

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