BLACK ENSEMBLE THEATER ANNOUNCES 2015 SEASON “STIR UP THE POT”

unnamed (15)Black Ensemble Theater’s Founder and CEO Jackie Taylor announces the 2015 “Stir Up The Pot” Season.  The season opens with a World Premiere non-singing drama with music, The Trial of Moses Fleetwood Walker, by Ervin Gardner.  The season continues with a new musical that highlights girl groups, past and present,Sounds So Sweet, followed by A Tribute to the Incomparable Bill Withers.   The Black White Play is a tribute toRoger Ebert and the music will speak to his philosophy of life.  The 2015 season will close with a Black Ensemble Theater classic in true Black Ensemble Theater-style, Dynamite Divas:  Gladys, Aretha, Roberta, Nina and Nancy. 

Jackie Taylor explains, “Yes, this is the season where we stir up the pot. You will still get our fabulous musicals but we’re adding something different. We’re going to open our 2015 Season with a drama The Trial of Moses Fleetwood Walker. This will be a drama with live musicians, but let’s be clear: there is no singing—this is a musical without a song. With The Trial of Moses Fleetwood Walker, we give you a preview of what you can expect to see in our new Studio Theater, which will open in 2016. These productions will continue to speak to the Black Ensemble mission of eradicating racism, but they will add a different flavor to the outstanding offerings that come from the Black Ensemble Theater. Remember we’re not changing we’re expanding!”

Taylor continues, “In 2015, we will also pay tribute to our friend Roger Ebert in a new musical that is partially sponsored by the Roger Ebert Foundation. In true Black Ensemble Theatre-style, we will also produce musicals honoring Bill Withers and the Dynamite Divas Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Nina Simone and Nancy Wilson.”

The 2015 Season includes:

The World Premiere non-singing musical drama

The Trial of Moses Fleetwood Walker 

Written by Ervin Gardner

Directed by Jackie Taylor

February 7-March 15

Previews: February 7, 8, 13 and 14, 2015

Opening Sunday, February 15, 2015 at 3:00pm

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

When you ask who was the first Black major league baseball player most people would say,” Jackie Robinson”— and most people would be wrong.   The first Black baseball player was Moses Fleetwood Walker and he played for the Toledo Blue Stocking in 1884 in the major leagues.  However this is not a story about baseball.  This is the trial of a Black man who was as popular in his time as Michael Jordan is in ours.   Moses is accused of murdering a white man in a time when Blacks were traditionally lynched without a trial for far less crimes such as looking directly in the eyes of a white man.  This is a powerful true story and speaks directly to the mission of the Black Ensemble Theater—to eradicate racism.

Sounds So Sweet

Written and Directed by Rueben Echoles

April 11-May 17, 2015

Previews: April 11, 12, 17 and 18, 2015

Opening: Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 3:00pm

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

It’s a battle of the Girl Groups.  Old School vs. New School, from the Supremes, to En Vogue to Danity Kane, this fun filled musical will thrill all ages while featuring more than 20 girl group knock out hits from the ‘60s to the ’90s to today.

A Tribute to the Incomparable Bill Withers

Written and Directed by Daryl Brooks

June 20-August 16, 2015

Previews: June 20, 21, 26 and 27, 2015

Opening: Sunday, June 28, 2015 at 3:00pm

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

Songs such as “Lean On Me,” “Use Me,” “Grandma Hands,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” speak to the genius of one of the most outstanding songwriters of our time.  All we need to say about this one is, “Sit back, relax and enjoy.

The Black White Play

(Honoring the Memory of Roger Ebert through Music)

Written and Directed by Jackie Taylor

September 19-November 1, 2015

Previews: September 19 20, 25 and 26, 2015

Opening: Sunday, September 27, 2015 at 3pm

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

The Black White Play is a tribute to Roger Ebert where the music will speak to his philosophy of life.  This play was partially sponsored through a grant from the Roger Ebert Foundation.

Dynamite Divas

Written by Jackie Taylor

Directed by Daryl D. Brooks

December 6, 2015-January 12, 2016

Previews: November 28, 29, December 4 and 5, 2015

Opening: December 6, 2015

Thursdays at 7:30pm, Fridays at 8:00pm, Saturday 3:00pm and 8:00pm, Sundays at 3:00pm

What happens when you put Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Gladys Knight and Roberta Flack in the same room for a day?  Well you certainly get some great nostalgic music and that’s for sure.  Originally presented in 2001,Dynamite Divas will be updated to feature some of our Divas of today, including Beyoncé and Mariah Carey. Let the fun begin.

In addition to Black Ensemble Theater’s regular season, two special events will be presented during the season:

INTERNATIONAL THEATER FESTIVAL

May 23-30, 2015

The International Theater Festival features Dance, Music and Film performances featuring cultures from around the world, including Tonsy Egyptian Physical Dance Theatre staring Karim Tonsy, the Romanian film After the Fall-HIV Grows Up, and other cultural offerings to be announced.

The Annual Black Ensemble New Year’s Eve Show

December 31, 2015

Like all Black Ensemble events, the New Year’s Eve celebration will be an occasion filled with joy and excitement. Guests at the celebration will enjoy a performance by the stars of Black Ensemble Theater, along with great entertainment, fabulous food, dancing with the stars and champagne flowing all night long!   

Tickets

Tickets are available at www.blackensemble.org, (773) 769-4451 or at the Black Ensemble Theater Box Office, 4450 N. Clark Street in Chicago. Tickets for The Trial of Moses Fleetwood Walker, Sounds So Sweet, A Tribute to the Incomparable Bill Withers, The Black White Play and Dynamite Divas

are $55 on Thursdays, and Saturday matinees; and $65 on Fridays, Saturday evenings, and Sunday matinees. A 10% discount is available for students, seniors, and groups. Tickets to New Year’s Eve are $125/person or $200/couple.

The Black Ensemble Theater

Founded in 1976, by the phenomenal producer, playwright and actress Jackie Taylor, Black Ensemble Theater is the only African American theater located in the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse north side Uptown community. Through its Five Play Season of Excellence, The Black Ensemble Theater dazzles audiences locally, nationally and internationally with outstanding original musicals that are entertaining, educational and uplifting. The Black Ensemble Theater has produced more than 100 productions and employed over 5,000 artists.

On November 18, 2011, The Black Ensemble Theater Cultural Center opened and is able to accommodate larger-scale productions, bigger audiences and a wider range of educational programming. The new facility includes amenities such as a 299-seat main stage theater (double the capacity of the original venue); 14 offices, classroom space, rehearsal hall, dance studio, scene shop, costume shop, and wardrobe rooms; seven dressing rooms; rehearsal room for musicians; front lobby space with concession areas; and an indoor parking garage.  The completion of a 150-seat theater, which will serve as an experimental stage for the work of the Black Playwright Initiative (BPI), is expected in to begin construction by General Contractor Norcon Inc. in January 2015 with a September 2015 opening.

The mission of the Black Ensemble Theater Company is to eradicate racism and its devastating effects upon society through the theater arts.  For more information on the Black Ensemble Theater Company, please visitwww.BlackEnsembleTheater.org or call 773-769-4451.