The Black Rep

A scene from "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," presented by the Black Rep in 2014
Provided by the Black Rep

The events of Ferguson have resulted in an explosion of arts activism in St. Louis. Painters, performers and arts movers and shakers have created a tremendous body of work around racism and other barriers to social justice.

But activism is nothing new to the Black Rep.

Provided by the Actors Studio

The St. Louis Theater Circle, a group of local theater critics, released its 2015 award nominees on Friday. 

“It was, I think, a terrific year,” St. Louis Post-Dispatch theater critic Judith Newmark told “Cityscape” host Steve Potter on Friday. “It was a year in which we lost one theater — that’s always going to happen. There also are some new people on the horizon. And it was a year in which, I think Shakespeare Festival St. Louis, which is a free event that draws huge crowds, really came into its own with a double production of ‘Henry IV’ and ‘Henry V.’”

The Black Rep

The Black Rep is bringing the iconic 1950s drama “A Raisin in the Sun” back to St. Louis.

This is the first time the company will stage “A Raisin in the Sun,” although 10 years ago it presented “Raisin,” a musical adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry’s drama about a black family’s experiences in Chicago.

“It is an American story. It is definitely about dreams and living life on the American landscape for the African-American and the quest for the piece of pie,” said actress Andrea Frye, who plays “Mama” Lena Younger.

Detail from the poster for Purlie
The Black Rep website

The musical "Purlie" is a “biting satire” about race relations according to The Black Rep founder Ron Himes. Himes is adamant about the show’s contemporary relevance in view of the Ferguson protests.

“The play deals with civil rights issues; it deals with racial bigotry; it deals with Southern white privilege and a community that is not willing to change and integrate; and that all sounds very familiar,” he said.

Courtesy of Portfolio Gallery

A member of the St. Louis Zoo-Museum District board is reviving the prospect of a new subdistrict of black arts organizations.

An amendment to House Bill 186, passed by the Missouri legislature in 2005, allows the creation of the African American History Museum and Cultural District. But adding it to the ZMD would have to be approved by popular vote — and an election can cost  up to $1 million — so the issue has languished for nine years.

Mustard Seed Theater

Alicia Reve' Like plays Nella, a bright patch in an Alabama family whose quilts tell stories of segregation and the civil rights movement.

Last February, Alicia Reve' Like portrayed a motel maid who whooped up on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Black Rep’s “The Mountaintop,” the story of King’s last hours.

A scene from "For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf," presented by the Black Rep in 2014
Provided by the Black Rep

There are many reasons you might want to see the Black Rep’s current production of Ntozake Shange’s poem series “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow Is Enuf” at the Missouri History Museum.

Of course, you get that deep, hard look into the lives of black women in the 1970s as seven characters wearing seven different colors leap, lament and laugh their way through Shange’s classic language.

Provided by Afriky Lolo

St. Louisans can explore the area's broad past including black history through larger-than-life puppets, Gee’s Bend, Ala., quilters and exhibits by members of the Alliance of Black Art Galleries.

The recently formed Alliance of Black Art Galleries will debut its first collaborative exhibit in February in connection with St. Louis’ 250th birthday celebration.

(Courtesy The Black Rep)

As far as we know, the only time Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X met was a brief greeting in passing outside a courthouse in 1965.

But if they had ever had a conversation, what would it have been like? That premise is the basis of Jeff Stetson’s “The Meeting,” currently being performed by the St. Louis Black Repertory Company.

In the play, Malcolm X (played by Ka’ramuu Kush) invites Dr. King (Matthew Galbreath) to a meeting in a Harlem hotel room, where the two men debate the best methods of obtaining racial equality.

Courtesy of the Black Rep

The actual meeting never happened. But “The Meeting,” opening Wednesday, dramatizes the “what ifs” of a one-hour conversation between Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X.

The Black Rep will stage its presentation of “The Meeting” through Jan. 26 in its 37th-season home at Harris-Stowe State University.

Courtesy of Stewart Goldstein

After being ousted from their home at The Grandel Theatre in Grand Center, The Black Rep theater company has found a new place for its productions at Harris-Stowe State University.

The company will now hold its performances at the Emerson Performance Center on the school’s campus, which seats over 200. The Grandel Theatre was owned by Grand Center Incorporated, which sold it earlier this summer.

(Courtesy of Stewart Goldstein)

Last year, Ron Conner led Black Rep casts in four out of five productions, and from the first, became one of my favorite actors to watch. This year he leads the Black Rep away from its twenty-six year home at the Grandel Theater to the A.E. Hotchner Studio Theater on the campus of Washington University and opens the new season with a sizzling one man show, Emergency. (The Black Rep was recently unceremoniously dumped from their long-time home. Hotchner will not be a permanent space for them, but was the perfect space for this particular show.)

Erin Williams

Linda Kennedy is the artistic associate over education and community programs for The Black Rep, which includes coordinating their annual Summer Performing Arts program for youth ages 8-17.

Heather Beal

The various iterations of Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz are wide-ranging and diverse.

One retelling, The Wiz, shares the story from an African-American perspective.  The musical won seven Tony Awards in 1975.

The St. Louis Black Repertory Company closes its season with The Wiz, with performances from May 29th – June 30th.

Todd Davis

Anne Frank and Emmett Till were young victims of racial injustice and hatred. 

In her diary, Frank provided a harrowing account of when she and her family were forced into hiding to escape the oppression of Nazi Germany.  Emmett Till of Chicago was visiting relatives in Mississippi in 1955 and was murdered after allegedly flirting with a white woman.

Host Steve Potter talks with Janet Langhart Cohen, the playwright of a one-act play called ANNE & EMMETT