The 16th annual National Black Theater Festival kicks off this Monday and runs through next Saturday. The festival, which was founded in 1989 by Larry Leon Hamlin, began as an endeavor to showcase the excellence of the many black theatre companies that were operated in the country at the time and to “ensure the survival of the genre into the next millennium.” This year’s festival promises nothing short of Hamlin’s vision of excellence and we’ve picked a handful of performances that range in form, style and subject matter. Viewers will be taken to the far fields of Africa in a dance adaptation of The Lion King and to the Wild West in Layon Gray’s Cowboy. Balancing gut-wrenching issues of racism, sexism, police violence with uplifting music, captivating dance and vibrant costumes, this year’s festival might be the best one yet. Plus, scroll to the bottom for a list of the best eats during the festival!

Prideland: a dance adaptation of The Lion King

Just in time for the release of Disney’s highly-anticipated Lion King remake, the Pointe Dance Studio performs their take on the popular story at this year’s festival.

For Colored Girls (courtesy photo)

For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/When The Rainbow Is Enuf

The choreopoem tells the story of seven women — each dressed in a different color of the rainbow — who have suffered oppression in a racist and sexist society.

Gettin’ Old is a Bitch… and I’m Gonna Wrestle that Bitch to the Ground

In both ‘Gettin’ Old Is a Bitch’ and ‘Occupy Your Vagina!,’ Mariann Aalda plays Dr. Ginger Peechee-Keane, an “adult sex-ed evangelist and mojo motivator.”

Cowboy (courtesy photo)


‘Cowboy’ tells the story of Bass Reeves who arrested more than 3,000 criminals in his time as the first black deputy US Marshal during the late 19th century.

Twelfth Night, or What You Will, Mon

Lange’s Twelfth Night takes place in Jamaica instead of the Illyrian coast, the soundtrack replaced with Bob Marley and Jimmy Cliff tunes.

March On

Daniel Carlton, a New York City-based playwright, was inspired to write March On after hearing one of his colleagues at Blackberry Productions lament that the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington came and went without much fanfare.

Blood at the Root

Blood at the Root, the acclaimed play written by Dominique Morriseau, is a choreo-poem loosely based on the events that transpired at Jena High School in late 2006 and early 2007.

Blood at the Root (courtesy photo)

Looking for places to eat while you’re in town? We’ve got you covered. Check out our list of casual, fancy and late-night eats!

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