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Actors Theatre Opens 2020-21 Virtual Season With Works By Black Female Artists

Actors Theatre of Louisville

Actors Theatre of Louisville opens its 2020-2021 season Friday with “Fix It, Black Girl,” a live-streamed event that features spoken word, prose and song by six female Black artists. 

Louisville author and poet Hannah L. Drake curated the event, which will be streamed on Actors Theatre’s Facebook page at 7 p.m. Drake said, when she first started conversations with the theater company about this, they were “discussing Black woman voices” during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“I just wanted to speak about Black women and our joy, our pain and our heartache and our history… and the love that I have for Black women who have taught me to be everything that I am today,” Drake said.

She said Black female voices are often “muted,” that they’re “usually an afterthought, especially after a crisis happens, and I wanted Black women to be a before thought.”

This celebration of Black women features works from Drake, Erica Denise, Janelle Renee Dunn, Robin G, Sujotta Pace and Kala Ross.

Drake said the title, “Fix It, Black Girl,” is taken from a piece that she wrote of the same name. 

“Black women are always expected to fix it, clean it, cook it, wash it and fix it,” Drake said. The world is falling apart, fix it Black girl… and it ends with, aren’t you tired, Black girl.”

The process of bringing all of these artists together, rehearsing and sharing together, has been emotional for Drake. To have it stream amid all of the protests happening around the country — something they didn’t anticipate happening at the time of the project’s conception — she said these works of art feel even more relevant. She pointed to a particular piece, during when an actor says the names of Black women who have been killed. Drake said, listening to it, it “brought tears to my eyes” because these are “names that just aren’t part of our lexicon,” but their lives matter. 

Actors Theatre’s Entire Season Will Be Digital

Following “Fix It, Black Girl,” Actors Theatre will present an entire virtual lineup for its 2020-2021 season, including a marquee play announced for the company’s annual Humana Festival, streamed through Actors Theatre Direct.

Scheduled for this fall, there will be a series of one-act plays “for the age of quarantine” called “COVID-Classics.” According to a press release, the collection will feature short plays from the likes of Chekhov, Pirandello, Strindberg and Apollinaire that resonate with life during the coronavirus pandemic.  

The new season will also feature “Where Did We Sit on the Bus?,” from playwright Brian Quijada. The one-person show is about growing up in an immigrant family in America. 

There are two radio plays on the lineup, “Dracula” in the fall and “A Christmas Carol” in the winter, and the premiere of “Ali Summit,” as part of the 45th Humana Festival of New American Plays is slated for spring 2021. Commissioned by Actors Theater, the new work by playwright Idris Goodwin, former producing artistic director of StageOne, “Ali Summit” unfolds in 1967 when Muhammad Ali met with some of the country’s top Black athletes, who had pushed back about his opposition to serving in the Vietnam War.

“In envisioning a new season of work at this time in our community, we seek to rigorously reimagine how a 21st century theater can be shared and of service to our Louisville and Kentuckiana family who are continuing to process the tragic murder of Breonna Taylor and… protests and violence, during the ongoing disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic,” executive artistic director Robert Barry Fleming said in a release.

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