Opportunities to Connect
Bishop Arts Theatre Center commissions 9 new plays based on The 1619 Project
Bishop Arts Theatre Center has commissioned nine local and nationally celebrated playwrights to pen a one-act play, no longer than 20 minutes, based on Pulitzer Prize-winning and New York Times best-selling author Nikole Hannah-Jones’ The 1619 Project.
The 1619 Project is an ongoing initiative from The New York Times Magazine that began in August 2019, the 400th anniversary of the beginning of American slavery. It aims to reframe the country’s history by placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of Black Americans at the very center of our national narrative.
Hannah-Jones' book substantially expands on that work, weaving together 18 essays that explore the legacy of slavery in present-day America with 36 poems and works of fiction that illuminate key moments of oppression, struggle, and resistance. The essays show how the inheritance of 1619 reaches into every part of contemporary American society, from politics, music, diet, traffic, and citizenship to capitalism, religion, and democracy itself.
Each playwright was asked to read the book and pen a script from a chapter that inspired them. All nine plays will be staged February 9-26, 2023, and directed by Gabrielle Kurlander.
Participating playwrights inclue Anyika McMillan-Herod, Erin Malone Turner, Terrance Brooks Boykin, Janelle Gray, Aaron Zilbermann, Cain Rodriguez, Zoe Kerr, Jacqueline Salit, and Jared Glenn.
Serving as the festival’s dramaturg is the distinguished Harvard professor Khalil Gibran Muhammed, Ph.D., who authored a chapter in The 1619 Project.
“The 1619 Project One-Act Festival challenges audiences to see not just the impact of racism and injustice on America, but also on our relationships to each other," says Kurlander. "Illuminating and sobering in equal measure, my intent is that this theatrical and creative production will be a step in the process of healing open wounds and will add to the long-overdue public exploration ignited by the book which inspired the production."
Kurlander is a nonprofit entrepreneur, theater director, and actor. She is a founder of the All Stars Project, Inc., and as its CEO over the last three decades, she has led the organization’s transformation from a small, New York City-based, all-volunteer effort into a national nonprofit.
The Oak Cliff-based Bishop Arts Theatre Center is currently celebrating its 29th anniversary season under the leadership of playwright-in-residence Franky Gonzalez and executive artistic director Teresa Coleman Wash.
“North Texas is in a crisis," says Wash. "Eighty percent of white nationalists’ propaganda in the nation originated in North Dallas during the Trump administration. We see theater, above all, as an opportunity to produce performances that allow strangers to connect with one another on civic issues that are difficult to discuss and often ignored. We are truly the fabric of our community, and that’s our superpower.”
Tickets for The 1619 Project One-Act Festival can be purchased online at www.bishopartstheatre.org or by calling the box office at 214-948-0716. Prices range from $18-$50 and seats are general admission. Discounts are available for seniors, students, and groups of 15 or more.