Black Theatre Troupe has announced four productions for its upcoming 2014-2015 season: “Radio Golf,” “Tommy J & Sally,” “Conviction” and “Ain’t She Brave.” Performances will take place at the Helen K. Mason Center for the Performing Arts, 1333 E. Washington St. in Phoenix.
First up is “Radio Golf,” by August Wilson, running from Sept. 26 through Oct. 12. Wilson’s final play of ten chronicling the African-American experience in the twentieth century, “Radio Golf” tells the story of Ivy-League-educated lawyer Harmond Wilks and his ambitious and educated wife. Wilks is hoping to become Pittsburgh’s first black mayor in the 1997 mayoral race when life intrudes. His plans to redevelop a poverty-stricken section of the city are thwarted by the owner of an old mansion at 1839 Wylie. The man refuses to give up his home, and in the end it’s clear that the old house has a more significant past than anyone ever imagined.
Next up is “Tommy J & Sally,” by Mark Medoff, which runs from Nov. 28 through Dec. 14. Tommy J, a young African-American man, forces his way into the Manhattan loft of Sally Hemmings, a white pop singer spreading racial harmony through her music. Only Tommy J claims that her real name is Madeline Rosenberg, a Jewish girl who has reinvented herself and taken the name of Thomas Jefferson’s slave mistress. “Tommy J and Sally” examines black/white relations from both sides, studying not only the tensions but also the longing for reconciliation, forgiveness and redemption.
Starting off the 2015 new year is “Conviction,” by Ben Tyler. The play, which runs Feb. 6–22, celebrates the musical genius of American jazz composer, lyricist, pianist, and arranger Billy Strayhorn, born 100 years earlier. The audience meets “A Convict,” who reminisces and performs for his fellow inmates songs that have enriched his life. Set to the backdrop of Strayhorn’s powerful music, his captivating story has a stunning conclusion.
Closing out the season is “Ain’t She Brave,” by Ntare Ali and Erika Gault. Originally edited and staged by Lorna Hill, the production runs April 10–26, 2015. Through music, dance, poetry and stories, “Ain’t She Brave” chronicles the modern black woman’s journey in America. The innovative work provides an entertaining evening by interweaving powerful moments of love and fear, memories and dreams, amid tales of strength and survival and centuries-old universal thoughts.
Founded in 1970, Black Theatre Troupe chooses productions that illuminate the African-American experience and culture by using local, regional and national talent.
To subscribe by phone, call (602) 254-2151, ext. 4, or for more information or a season brochure, call (602) 258-8128, ext. 2. Tickets may also be ordered online.