This August, the historic National Black Theatre (NBT) will premiere a powerful production that was first introduced in 2015 following a series of state violence that plagued America, as a radio play. HANDS UP: 7 PLAYWRIGHTS, 7 TESTAMENTS will have its radio play American premiere directed by Jonathan McCrory, NBT’s Executive Artistic Director. The collection of works, originally created and curated by the New Black Fest under the artistic direction of Keith Josef Adkins, was a response to the police shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri among other young Black men and women over the years, including Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice and more. In light of the ongoing unrest in the country, and the current death toll of nearly 1600 black bodies murdered by the cops since Brown’s unforgettable murder, this production will showcase a collection of seven monologues written by seven different playwrights highlighting their personal testaments of being Black in America.
The collection includes works such as Superiority Fantasy written by Nathan James; Holes in My Identity written by Nathan Yungerberg; They Shootin! Or I Ain’t Neva Scared written by Idris Goodwin; Dead of Night… The Execution of… written by Nambi E. Kelley; Abortion written by NSangou Njikam; Walking Next to Michael Brown written by Eric Micha Holmes; and How I Feel written by Dennis A. Allen II who all share first-hand accounts of their experience in America.
To bring this radio play production to life National Black Theatre has been able to bring together an impressive cast which includes actor, teacher, writer, and musician Nuri Hazzard; Isaiah Johnson who has appeared in a number of on and off-Broadway productions such as The Merchant of Venice, Richard III, Hamilton, and The Color Purple; Warner J. Miller who appears in American Gangster, NBC’s Manifest and upcoming Amazon Dramedy Harlem; award-winning actress Crystal Lucas-Perry who starred in the premiere production of Ain’t No Mo’; multi-award-winning director/actor/writer Eden Marryshow who co-wrote, produced, and starred in the feature film BRUCE, J.D. Mollison who is known for his Broadway and TV appearances including Les Miserables, Avenue X, Moby Dick, Shameless and Madame Secretary, and finally Kamal Bolden who received the AUDELCO Award for Best Actor in Reparations at the historic Billie Holiday Theatre and has appeared in Elvis & Nixon, Chicago Fire, NCIS as well as countless other film and tv productions. The creative and production team includes Dominique Rider, Assistant Director; Kathy Ruvuna, Sound Designer, Brick Shop Audio, Audio Engineer; Jaimee Todd, Illustrator; Lauren M. Smith, Line Producer; Belynda M’Baye, Production Manager, and Andrew Otchere, NBT Resident Intern.
NBT’s Jonathan McCory exclaims, “There is a need for a reform! There is a new government sanction genocide happening to black folxs by the police. And unless we change how they serve and protect we will continue to have these testimonies housed in Hands Up resonate as present pulse narratives that articulate the terror that is running rampant within our communities.”
Tickets for the radio play will go on sale in mid-July and the National Black Theatre will curate a series of virtual community engagement opportunities to help compliment and deepen the conversation and impact of this work. For additional information, please visit https://www.nationalblacktheatre.org/.