Project 1 Voice Marks 25th Anniversary of Playwright James Baldwin’s Death
On Monday, June 18, the same play will be presented at the same time by 25 black theaters across the country. The Boston Black Theater Collective, part of the William Monroe Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture, is among those taking part in the national initiative, called Project 1 Voice.
These 25 theaters will present James Baldwin’s The Amen Corner to mark the 25th anniversary of the playwright’s passing. The Boston Black Theater Collective’s production, which features political, academic, and media figures, will take place at 7 p.m. at the Museum of African-American History, located at 46 Joy St. in Boston.
The play addresses the role of a church in a black family, and how poverty resulting from racial prejudice affects a black community.
Beverly Morgan-Welch, executive director of the Museum of African-American History, will play the part of Sister Boxer in the Boston Black Theater Collective’s staged reading. It is the same part she played as a theater major at Smith College.
“My late husband was a minister, so this play is a very different experience for me now than it was as a college student. Sister Boxer sees the minister as having no life outside of the church, and this view is not uncommon. When she is confronted with the evidence that their spiritual leader has led a full life, she has a great deal to say about it,” Morgan-Welch said about her character.
Barbara Lewis, director of the Trotter Institute, will read stage directions during the performance.
“Whether these issues [of race and the role of the church] remain current today are questions that we can consider by thinking about, viewing, and hearing Baldwin's play,” Lewis said. “This staged reading invites us to come together in a city with a revered and a reviled history to consider how we have changed, grown, and remained the same.”
“Plays by and about black people in America have been written since the early 19th century; however, they are rarely produced or garner the critical acclaim they deserve,” Morgan-Welch said. “African-American authors and playwrights are rare indeed, and we must read and know and support this amazing work, especially by the beloved and not yet fully celebrated James Baldwin.”
The rest of the cast includes:
- Margaret Burnham, law professor, former judge, and founding director of Northeastern University’s Civil Rights and Restorative Justice Project
- Kelley Chunn, founder and principal of Kelley Chunn & Associates, a Roxbury-based public relations and marketing firm
- Barry Gaither, director and curator of the National Center for African-American Art (NCAAA) in Roxbury
- Charlotte Golar-Richie, formerly in the mayoral and gubernatorial cabinets and now senior vice president for public policy, advocacy, and government relations at YouthBuild USA
- Gregory Groover Sr., pastor of Charles Street A.M.E. Church
- Jacqui Lindsay, founder and principal of Innovation by Design, a strategic planning consulting firm with local, national, and global clients
- Colette Phillips, founder and principal of Phillips Communications, Inc., a marketing, special events, and brand-development firm
- Klare Shaw, special advisor to the Boston Public Schools superintendent, who previously worked at the Barr Foundation
- Sarah Ann Shaw, former television journalist and committed community activist
- Tito Jackson, Boston City Councilor
General admission tickets are $27.50; tickets for UMass Boston students, faculty, and staff are $12.50. Tickets can be purchased at the door or in advance. Doors open at 6 p.m. For more information, contact Yvonne Gomes-Santos at 617.287.5885 or Yvonne.Gomes-Santos@umb.edu. Proceeds will benefit the Trotter Institute.
The Boston Black Theater Collective is an organization created by the Trotter Institute and The Color of Film Collaborative Inc., with support from StageSource, in order to strengthen black theater in Boston.
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