The Billie Holiday Theatre Kicks Off 2019 Fall and 2020 Season with Stellar Shows and Programs

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Kamal Bolden and Lisa Arrindell.

The Billie Holiday Theatre Artistic and Executive Director Dr. Indira Etwaroo has announced the line-up for The Billie Holiday Theatre’s Fall 2019 Season and 2019 – 2020 Season Highlights at their newly-renovated home at Restoration Plaza on 1368 Fulton Street, Brooklyn, NY 11216.  

This historic landmark theater – theater home to the largest community of African Americans in the nation: Central Brooklyn – encompassing a 199-seat theater, state-of-the-art studio spaces, a gallery space, and outdoor plazas, has been home to world-class storytelling for 47 years. Forged in the sociocultural and aesthetic kiln of the Civil Rights and Black Arts Movements, The Billie Holiday Theatre continues to celebrate the diversity, intersectionality, and complexity of the African diaspora from around the corner and around the world with an almost-five decade, keenly honed consciousness for social justice through narrative.

“This is a season that celebrates the triumph of the human spirit, which remains at the core of the African American experience during this 400th commemorative year of the beginning of slavery in America. We enter this season with a profound knowledge that the African American story is the very foundation of the American story,” said Dr. Etwaroo. “We strive to stretch and innovate on Black narratives in the 21st century from 20th anniversary works by internationally renowned choreographer Ron Brown that are still profoundly resonant, to playwright James Sheldon’s world premiere Reparations, helmed by the incomparable Michele Shay, presenting our audience the first produced playwright of non-African descent in our theater’s history, to eclectic local musical talent in our daring Skylight Open, to new play readings by our resident company, Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop.”

This Fall 2019, The Billie launches the New Windows Festival, as a platform for deeply necessary cross-cultural and inter-racial dialogues around race, social justice, and equity, developed by an historic Black-led cultural institution to explore our shared humanity, while providing our audiences an opportunity to witness provocative, groundbreaking, and radical work in their own theater home in Central Brooklyn...all in a spirit of excellence and inclusion. The 2019 New Windows Festival includes the World Premiere of James Sheldon’s Reparations, an exhibit by internationally renowned artist Luba Lukova “Designing Justice,” and a reading of a new play by David Davila.

Our Education Division launches the 21st year of our Youth Arts Academy, which has been a haven of beauty, safety, and free expression for hundreds of youth annually, cultivating global citizens to become powerful contributors to their communities. YAA offers a wide range of classes, including West African Dance, Ballet, Modern Dance, Hip-Hop, Drama, and Drumming encompassing the Sabar, Steel Pan, and Djembe taught by a world-class faculty for students ages 3 - 18 years old. Registration ONLINE at  http://TheBillieHoliday.org and IN PERSON at 718-636-6995. The Billie Holiday Theatre, in partnership with The Stella Adler Studio of Acting, also engages over 75  young theater artists annually, ages 18 – early 30s, from across the world at The Billie Holiday Theatre. With founding faculty Stephen McKinley Henderson, Ruben Santiago Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, Sonia Sanchez, and Michele Shay, The Billie and Stella Adler Studio have joined arms to address voids that are still missing in many mainstream college and university theater programs and training programs: a curriculum and theater canon, a peer group, performance experiences, and administration and faculty that fully reflect the exquisite diversity of students of African descent.  BAI has focused on socio-cultural, historical, and political eras that have informed the creative expression of Black people on American soil, mainly the Black Arts Movement. Registration at https://blackartsinstitute.org

The 47-year partnership between The Billie Holiday Theatre and its founder, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, continues to provide a vital and viable platform for the sustainability of world-class art in the heart of Bed-Stuy. 

Patrons who join the Friends of The Billie program as a donor, starting with a gift of $50, gain access to VIP tickets and events, and advance notice of events throughout the year. To find out how you can support The Billie by joining the Friends of The Billie program at http://thebillieholiday.org/support/ or call 718-636-0918.

Tickets for the 2019 - 2020 season are available ONLINE at TheBillieHoliday.org/show-and-events; IN PERSON at The Billie Holiday Theater Box Office at Restoration Plaza, 1368 Fulton Street from Wed - Fri, 4 - 7pm and Sat 1 - 4pm; and BY PHONE at (718) 636-0918.

The Theatre's 2019 Fall Season and Highlights

GLOBAL FILMS | NOVA FRONTIER FILM FESTIVAL

September 20 – 22, 2019

Tickets starting at $20; Free for 18 and under | The Billie Holiday Theatre 

The Billie Holiday Theatre presents the annual Nova Frontier Film Festival and Lab, a timely narrative, documentary and experimental film festival, and multi-disciplinary lab, passionately committed to showcasing the works of filmmakers and artists from and about the African diasporas, Middle East, Latin America, and Caribbean. The lab, which is a core component of the festival, focuses on the development of youth and emerging artists and media-makers from underserved and underrepresented communities.

DANCE | RONALD K. BROWN/EVIDENCE IN CONCERT

Fri, Sep 27 at 7PM 

Sat, Sep 28 at 3PM with a Pre-Show Talk at 2PM | Sat, Sep 28 at 7PM followed by a House Party

The Billie Holiday Theatre

Tickets |$20 for all performances | $15 ticket for Sat post-show house party with a complimentary drink. House Music curated by Ronald K. Brown | The Billie Holiday Theatre

Ronald K. Brown/EVIDENCE, hailing from Bedford Stuyvesant, celebrates with the highly-anticipated annual homecoming concert with a focus on the fusion of African dance with contemporary choreography and spoken word. The work provides a unique view of human struggles, tragedies, and triumphs, “creating a magnificently textured style, which shifts from earthy, raw-powered movement to jumps that send dancers sailing into the air like spirits." - The New York Times. The program includes two 20th Anniversary works choreographed by Ronald K. Brown, Gatekeepers (1999) and Water (1999) with original text written and performed by Cheryl Boyce Taylor. “The rituals of '’Water’' offered hope that evil stains can be removed from this world.”  - The New York Times. Other highlights include Walking Out the Dark (2001).

MUSIC | RESTORATION ROCKS! 2019

In Partnership with Bed-Stuy Alive!

Sat, Oct 12, 2019 from 12 - 6PM, 2019

Free and Open to the Public | Fulton Street between New York Ave and Brooklyn Ave

RestorationROCKS!, a part of the annual week-long Bed-Stuy Alive! celebration, returns with a dynamic line-up of musical talent and community favorites, including Big Daddy Kane, Nona Hendryx, Maritri Garret and the Soulfolk Experience, as well as a takeover of Fulton Street with a Soul Summit House Party.  Join thousands of community members to celebrate the legacy of Bed-Stuy as the mecca of Black arts and culture in Brooklyn with street vendors, live music, and delicious food.

NEW WINDOWS FESTIVAL

October -  November 2019

As part of its continued role as a voice and convener for its community, The Billie Holiday Theatre will introduce the inaugural New Windows Festival, a radical step forward in furthering transformative conversations around race through the power of narrative.  Based on the concept of “tearing down walls and not building them,” New Windows goes beyond social, intellectual, cultural and geographical borders to explore difference, intersectionality, and the complexity of identity, as a community with the simple question that literary legend Sonia Sanchez challenges us with: “what does it mean to be human?” New Windows spotlights voices and perspectives that have not historically been presented at The Billie, yet continues to place bold and daring storytelling and social justice at the center of the largest community of African descent in the nation. 

TALK | IDENTITY AND DESIGN: A GLOBAL PARADIGM: AN EVENING WITH JAHNKOY

Tickets Not Yet Available | The Billie Holiday Theatre

Born and raised in Siberia, Russia, JAHNKOY is a New York based visual artist who will be joined in conversation by 

Hollis King, Creative Director, The Billie Holiday Theatre.  JAHNKOY’s work draws upon found materials and ready-made clothing to illustrate her ideas around consumerism, racial and cultural inequality, crafts and the political and economic restraints that surround it. She sees fashion as a powerful force to raise questions about the sustainability of the actual fashion system and seeks to bring awareness and raise consciousness among consumers about alternative, more viable modes of production, distribution and consumption. The aim of her practice is to reestablish cultural heritage in a new contemporary way, reconnect people to the knowledge of the past, promote hand skills and craftsmanship.

VISUAL ARTS | LUBA LUKOVA DESIGNING JUSTICE EXHIBIT

Opening Reception: Mon, Nov 4 at 6PM 

Free and Open to the Public | The Billie Holiday Theatre Lobby

An artist and designer, Luba Lukova creates images that transcend language, cultures, and politics. Her thought-provoking posters address essential themes of humanity and injustice worldwide. Her messages help viewers develop empathetic understanding for social and cultural issues through indelible metaphors and an economy of line, color, and text.

"Creating some of the most iconic posters of the last decade, Luba Lukova is one of the most important visual artists of our generation. This is not up for debate. History will remember her work." –John Foster, Rockpaperink

Lead support for the 2019 - 2020 season provided by the Ford Foundation and the Howard Gilman Foundation. The J. L. Greene Art Access Fund in The New York Community Trust has partnered with The Billie Holiday Theatre to bring the performing arts to underrepresented audiences throughout New York. 

Our ability to tell stories that matter in the epicenter of the largest community of people of African descent in the nation is made possible with support from our partners: The New York Community Trust, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, The Laurie Tisch Illumination Fund, The Fan Fox and Leslie R. Samuels Foundation, and Con Edison. Additional support provided by The Fund for the City of New York, Lily Auchincloss Foundation, The Shubert Foundation, Srinija Srinivasan Fund of the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, and John Golden Fund.  

The Billie Holiday Theatre, Inc. is a proud member of the Coalition of Theatres of Color (CTC). The 2019 - 2020 Season is made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council, with the support of Commissioner Tom Finkelpearl, the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York with the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio, Office of the Brooklyn Borough President with the support of Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams, New York City Council (District 36) with the support of Councilmember Robert E. Cornegy, Majority Council, Majority Leader Councilmember Laurie Cumbo, and the support of Assemblymember Tremaine Wright. 

This AUDELCO and Obie Award-winning Billie Holiday Theatre is devoted to the discovery of world-class storytelling with a focus on stories for, by, about, and near people of African descent. The Billie presents, promotes and sustains art that reflects the definitive issues of our time in and through all of its forms of expression.  

The Billie Holiday Theatre has been a significant platform for many Black theater artists, including Samuel L. Jackson, Ruby Dee, Omari Hardwick, Debbie Allen, Wendell Pierce, Roger Robinson, John Amos, Sonia Sanchez and more.

For more please go to The Billie Holiday Theatre 

 

 

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