40 Plays in Four days returns to DeKalb


Theatrical productions designed to evoke laughter, tears and a full range of emotions are promised at the upcoming Atlanta Black Theatre Festival. The Oct. 4-7 events take place at the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center in Decatur.

The event, now in its sixth year, is designed to build community through artistic experiences. It includes live performances, readings, a creative conference, marketplace and awards celebration.

“We search the globe to create the most intriguing line-up of original works,” is a description of the festival on its website. “So whether you›re a fan of August Wilson, Tyler Perry or Shakespeare, there’s something good for you at the ABTF. We attract thousands of theatre lovers from around the world seeking cutting-edge live performances representing all genres of theatre.”

Toni Simmons Henson is ABTF’s producing director and founder, and actor Taurean Blacque is lifetime honorary chair.

Among the events scheduled are:

  •  Negophobia by Arthur W. French III is a satire of vignettes of how we find ourselves in different forms and different varieties. Takes place at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 4.
  • Little Brown Boys is designed for young audiences, ideally for fifth through ninth graders. It follows Trey’s journey to manhood. “He’s surrounded by role models of greatness and success as well as fast money and temporary riches. Will he choose the thug life or the boardroom?” Written by Jermaine Jenkins and Ursula O. Robinson, it is performed by the South Carolina State University Players. Scheduled at 10 a.m. on Oct. 4
  • Town Hall Symposium: Stop! What the Hell are We Fighting For? Artists Respond. Described as “Art can heal. Let’s talk…and listen.” Facilitated by WCLK’s Kiplyn Primus, host of The Local Take. Held at 2:30 pm. on Oct. 5.
  • Boys to Baghdad by Rory D.Sheriff about a young man who joins the Army after high school leaving behind his mother and girlfriend and promises. On stage at 10 p.m. Oct. 5.
  • Betty Miller Buttram performs a reading from Chocolate Girl about a girl dealing with three words hurled at her by classmates about the color of her skin. 
  • A Soldier’s Play by Charles Fuller at 8:30 p.m. on Oct. 6. A Pulitzer Prize winning drama about a WWII Black soldier who is killed returning to his base and a tough Black Army attorney brought in to uncover the truth. Stars TC Carson of Living Single.
  • Zora! Let the People Sing! by Nykieria Chaney a 10 p.m. on Oct. 6 focuses on the life and times of legendary writer Zora Neale Hurston.
  • Midnight Madness Comedy Show gets the laughs rolling at 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 6
  • Tongues That Move to Ears That Eat. This Oct. 7 event is the closing performance of the festival. Includes an evening of performances and awards.
    •  Actors open call and mixer
    •  Mock auditions
    •  Artistic recess: Ignite the power of improv
    •  From words to paper to dramatic action
  • Creative Conference for Artists—The conference is designed for writers, actors, producers and directors and includes nine sessions are scheduled during the festival including:

A children’s playfest is planned for Sept. 30 at the West End Performing Arts Center, 945 Ralph David Abernathy Boulevard. The playfest, which runs from 2 to 6 p.m., includes theater games and an event entitled Speak Up: Your Voice Matters. From 4 to 5:30 p.m. a full-length performance of Six Triple Eight will be staged. Its set during World War II as the first African–American female battalion arrives in Europe faced with a seemingly impossible task—to distribute 7 million pieces of mail to soldiers in three months.

Details of all festival events can be found at atlantabtf.org.

The Porter Sanford center is located at 3181 Rainbow Drive.


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