written by Kathy D. Harrison
On October 4, 5, and 6, 2019,
Charleston Black Theatre presents
I am truly excited about bringing “Southern Boys” to Charleston! Two years ago, during my research at the National Black Theatre Festival, I went to see this production and met Kathy D. Harrison who is the creative genius behind “Southern Boys”. Besides being an artist extraordinaire, she is a songwriter and playwright, who enjoys highlighting the untold stories of African Americans. Her expertise in combining entertainment with the history of the African American experience falls clearly in line with Charleston Black Theatre’s mission. For that reason alone, I want to share this story with Charleston’s theatre going community as well as the younger generation studying American social and current events.
Southern Boys is a story of former slaves, called Sharecroppers, still living and working on their former owner’s plantation; but are, nevertheless, yearning for a life beyond the fields in the Mississippi Delta.
The performers pantomime movements and sing in a cappella as they express their reasons and make a pact to migrate North for what they hope is a better life for themselves and eventually their families. The message in this story aligns itself with America’s history of the ‘great migration’, and ties into a conference hosted in North Charleston at the Embassy Suites with the Association for the Study of African American Life and History (ASALH) to be held on October 2-6, 2019. Coincidentally, their theme at this conference is also “black migration and urban realities”. WOW! A match made in heaven!
Charleston Black Theatre is looking forward to partnering with ASALH and to invite their attendees to visit Charleston, and include “Southern Boys” as part of their agenda of “Things to do while in Charleston”.
– Yvonne Broaddus, CBT’s Founder & Executive Producer
Charleston Black Theatre presented
George Washington’s Boy
Performed as a staged reading
Saturday, February 17, 2018 at 6:00PM
Based on historical fact, George Washington’s Boy, written by Ted Lange and directed by Yvonne Broaddus of Charleston Black Theatre, portrays the fight for freedom, the Declaration of Independence, and the first presidency of the United States from the viewpoint of one of George Washington’s confidants and, ironically, his slave, Billy Lee.
Lee served his master throughout these monumental times and was privy to the innermost thoughts and actions of Washington. Ted Lange, author of 19 plays, gives a voice to these relatively unknown Black Americans. Lange, a prolific actor of stage and screen, director and author, is a graduate of London’s Royal Academy of the Dramatic Arts and recipient of the NAACP Renaissance Man Theatre Award, among many other awards in his career.
His talents caught the attention of Charleston Black Theatre’s founder and executive producer at the National Black Theatre Festival in 2013, which showcased his production of “Lady Patriot”. This particular story was the third play from his published series entitled, “The Footnote Historian’s Trilogy”. In the research of George Washington’s Boy, Lange traveled to Morristown, Philadelphia, and the slave quarters of Mount Vernon.
He collected 46 books, talked to curators, viewed numerous documentaries, and conducted internet searches to uncover the spirit of these Americans in the shadows. In the background of John Trumbulls well-known painting of Washington, Lange discovered a documented portrait of Billy Lee. An integral part of early history, the house slaves lived behind the scenes, combed their master’s hair, packed their mistresses clothes, and cooked food for the household.
Lange moves them into the foreground and paints a story of their humanity. He brings vibrant color, humor, and life to their conversations and portrays their personal heartfelt struggles for freedom. A must see for Black History month!
photo by Adam Chandler
Top row (left to right): Peter Lanzillotta, Teresa Wallace, Jamal Hall, Jeff Neale, Roy Gilliard, Michele Powe, Fred Hutter
Bottom row (left to right): Adolphus F. Williams, Sr., Karl Bunch, Moses Lane, Allison Farrell, Victoria Felder