News & Updates

February 12, 2015

The Lark Partners with the New Black Fest

The Lark Partners with the New Black Fest in its 5th Season for "The New Black Fest at The Lark"

NEW YORK, NY -The Larkis proud to announce itspartnership withThe New Black Fest,a theater organization celebrating provocative storytelling, music and discussion from the African Diaspora.The Lark will hostThe New Black Fest at the Lark,a week-long festival featuringthe following artists and their works:PAPER ARMORby Obie Award-winner and Pulitzer Prize finalistEisa Davis; the award-winningASHES UNDER GAIT CITYbyChristina Anderson;SCHWARTZ GERMACHT OR KLAUS FINDS HIS BLACKNESSbyAlexander Thomas;BARS AND MEASURESbyIdris Goodwin;AMERICA’S FAVORITE PASTIME(formerly known as NIGGER FETISH) by the 2015 Atlantic Theater LAUNCH Commission recipientDennis A. Allen II; andRIVER SEE/THEATRICAL JAZZ & AESTHETIC SCHOLARSHIPpresented bySharon BridgforthandOmi Osun Joni L. Jones.

“For five years, The New Black Fest and its brilliant leader Keith Josef Adkins have challenged artists and audiences to embrace the broad diversity of the African American experience through bolder playwriting and a more ambitious theater," saidJohn Clinton Eisner, The Lark's Artistic Director."We are excited to host this dynamic community of iconoclasts at The Lark this year, to learn from Keith’s vision, and to help advance new kinds of stories into the repertoire.”

"At a time of exciting and important actions around diversity and complexity, I am so thrilled to garner new partnerships with institutions like The Lark that understand the creative well-being of the playwright is central to everything,"saidKeith Josef Adkins,The New Black Fest Artistic Director & Co-Founder.

Public readings of these works and a kick-off panel“New Topics in Blackness (the NEW Civil Rights)”will take place March 16 – March 22 at The Lark’s BareBones Studio. The panel event, moderated by playwrightZakiyyah Alexander, will involve political activist and writerKevin Powell; journalist and political analystKeli Goff; the 2014 winner of the Edward M. Kennedy Prize playwrightDominique Morisseau; and public intellectual and NYU professorFrank Leon Roberts.

Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright and The New Black Fest’s advisory board memberLynn NottagetoldThe New York Times, “This [event] is not about separation, it’s about inclusion. It’s about inviting people who don’t get access.”

The New Black Fest is supported in part by Time Warner and a special grant from the Ford Foundation.

Additional support provided through grants to The Lark from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, in partnership with the City Council.


Monday, March 16 @7pm
PANEL EVENT: New Topics in Blackness (the NEW Civil Rights)
Join us for a panel discussion, moderated by Zakiyyah Alexander,with panelistsKevin Powell,Keli Goff, Dominique Morisseau and Frank Leon Roberts. Reception to follow.

Tuesday, March 17 @7pm
by Sharon Bridgforth and Omi Osun Joni L. Jones
Through conversation, improvisational performance and scripted text, theatrical jazz artistsSharon Bridgforth and Omi Osun Joni L. Jones present RIVER SEE, THEATRICAL JAZZ & AESTHETIC SCHOLARSHIP, an exploration of theatrical jazz that considers how race, gender, and class play important roles in creating a form that speaks to social, artistic and sexual transgressions, and freedom of expression.

Wednesday, March 18 @7pm
PAPER ARMOR by Eisa Davis
In 1930,Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston wrote a play together, MULE BONE, that promptly destroyed their friendship. In this piece of historically inspired speculative fiction, their stenographer, Louise Thompson Patterson, looks on from an afterworld where the future (and past) of black letters hang in the balance.

Thursday, March 19 @7pm
by Alexander Thomas
Set in 1938, Berlin. Drawing on research on the lives ofAfrodeutscher(Afro-Germans), the play imagines a story that examines questions of self and citizenship through the eyes of a patrioticAfrodeutscheractor. Proud to serve his country, he appears in propaganda films calling for the return of Germany’s former African colonies. An encounter with an African-American musician and activist leads to questions about identity and the treatment of people of color both in Germany and in the United States.

Friday, March 20 @7pm
Emmanuel Prince is a black civil rights activist, a well-known pundit; he has multiple books on theTimesbest-sellers list; is a US ambassador; is married to beautiful woman and has a son about to graduate college as salutatorian. Emmanuel Prince also has a secret sexual addiction that could destroy his family and career. AMERICA’S FAVORITE PASTIME (formally known as NIGGER FETISH)explores race, identity, fetishes and the shame that keeps us addicted to a cycle of pain.

Saturday, March 21 @7pm
BARS AND MEASURES by Idris Goodwin
Loosely based on real events, BARS AND MEASURES is the fascinating tale of two brothers. One a classical pianist; the other a jazz bassist. One a Christian; the other a Muslim. One living in freedom; the other in jail. Separated by bars, the brothers try to reconcile their differences through the language they know best. Music. A journey through faith, family, melody and time.BARS AND MEASURES was commissioned by B Street Theatre in Sacramento.

Sunday, March 22 @3pm
ASHES UNDER GAIT CITY by Christina Anderson
Simone The Believer, a popular online guru, decides to leave the virtual and enter the real when she discovers Gait City, Oregon’s complicated history of displacing its Black residents. She sets out to reclaim the city as a “Black mecca.” She and her assistant D settle in Gait City, then the mission takes an unexpected turn. When her online call to join a real world community goes unanswered, Simone must decide what she’s willing to do to ignite movement in the age of"hashtag" activism.

Talkbacks will follow each reading.A reception will follow the panel and the final reading on March 22.

All events are free and open to the public; reservations are required. Reservations can be made starting Monday, February 16. Visitwww.larktheatre.orgfor more information.


DENNIS A. ALLEN IIwas born and raised in Hempstead, New York. His playTheMud is Thicker in Mississippiwas awinnerat the 35thannual Off Off Broadway Samuel French festival in 2010 directed by Christopher Burris.Dennis is the recipient of Atlantic Theater Company's 2014-15 Launch Commission.He’s been the recipient of the Himan Brown Creative Writing Award two years running, and has developed and produced plays with JACK, Liberation Theatre, National Black Theatre, Classical Theatre of Harlem,Harlem9′s 48 hours in Harlem,Fire This Time Festival and The Naked Expedition Project. Collaborative writing projects with The American Slavery Project’s 2012Unheard Voices,and The New Black Fest'sHands up: Six Playwrights, Six Testaments. Dennis received his MFA in playwriting from Mac Wellman and Erin Courtney's Brooklyn College program.

CHRISTINA ANDERSON’s plays includepen/man/ship,Good Goods,Man in Love,BlackTop Sky, andHollow Roots. Her work has appeared at Magic Theatre, CATF, Steppenwolf, Penumbra, Yale Rep, A.C.T., The Public Theater, Crowded Fire, and other theaters all over the country.Awards and honors include Playwright-in-Residence at Magic Theater (NationalNewPlay Network), two Lark/PoNY nominations,two Susan Smith Blackburn nominations, finalist Laurents Hatcher Award, and finalist Woursell Prize. She's a resident member ofNewDramatists. American Theatre Magazine selected Anderson as one of fifteen up-and-coming artists "whose work will be transforming America's stages for decades to come." She obtained her B.A. from Brown University and an M.F.A. from the YaleaSchool of Drama's Playwriting Program. She teaches playwriting at Purchase College. Anderson was born and raised in Kansas City, KS.

SHARON BRIDGFORTHis a writer working in the theatrical jazz aesthetic. She collaborates with actors, dancers, singers and audiences live during performance as she composes moving soundscapes of her non-linear texts. A resident playwright at New Dramatists since 2009, Bridgforth is currently touringThe River See Theatrical Jazz Performance Installation, with support from the MAP Fund, the National Performance Network and presenting partners in five states.Bridgforth has been Artist In-Residence at universities including: the University of Iowa’s MFA Playwrights Program; The Theatre School at DePaul University; and The Department of Performance Studies at Northwestern University. Publications includelove conjure/blues, Lambda Literary Award winning,the bull-jean stories,RedBone Press, andExperiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project, University of Texas Press, which she co-edited with Dr. Omi Osun Joni L. Jones, and Dr. Lisa Lynn Moore. Bridgforth’s performance script,delta dandiis published insolo/black/woman, Northwestern University Press.

EISA DAVISwas the2012 Alpert Award winner in Theatreand a 2013 Obie Award winner for Sustained Excellence in Performance. She was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Drama for her playBulrusher, and wrote and starred inAngela’s Mixtape, named a best of 2009 byThe New Yorker. Other plays includeRamp(Ruby Prize winner), The History of Light(Barrymore nomination),Paper Armor, Umkovu, Six Minutes, Warriors Don’t Cry, and the collaborationsActive IngredientsandHip Hop Anansi. Her newest piece is the musical workFlowers Are Sleeping, and she recently contributed a storyline to the collaborative marketplace eventTrade Practicesand an episode toThe Mysteriesat the Flea. Eisa was a resident playwright at New Dramatists, where she won the Helen Merrill Award, and the Whitfield Cook Award, among others. She has received fellowships from Sundance/UCross, Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, Cave Canem, and the Doris Duke, Van Lier and Mellon Foundations. As an actor, recent theatre work includesLuck of the Irishat LCT3 (Lucille Lortel and AUDELCO nominations), the world premieres ofThe CallandThisat Playwrights Horizons, the first revival ofThe Piano Lessonat Yale Rep (also composer and music director), and her Obie Award-winningperformance in the Broadway rock musicalPassing Strange, captured on film by Spike Lee.Eisa is featured in the filmsFree Angela, Welcometo the Rileys(opposite James Gandolfini) among many others.She plays Cynthia Driscoll on the upcoming Season 3 ofHouse of Cards, was Bubbles’ sister onTheWire, has guest starred onGotham, The Blacklist, The Good Wife,DamagesandSoul Food,and recurred onSmashandHart of Dixie.As a singer-songwriter, music from her albumsSomething Elseand Tinctures are available through iTunes and Soundcloud.

IDRIS GOODWINis a playwright, rapper and essayist. His plays includeHow We Got On, Remix 38(Actors Theater of Louisville);And in this corner: Cassius Clay(StageOne Family Theater),This is Modern Art(Steppenwolf), Blackademics(MPAACT, Crowded Fire). Goodwin is one of the six playwrights featured inHands Upan anthology commissioned by The New Black Fest.Hands Uphas been presentedacross the country at such notable venues as National Black Theater of Harlem, Seattle’s Hansberry Project and Common Ground in North Carolina. His playThe REALNESSis featured in the 2015 Ruth Easton Series with Playwright’s Center where he is a Core Writer. He is the recipient of InterAct Theater’s 20/20 Commission Award. Goodwin has been a writer in residence at Berkeley Rep's Ground Floor Program, The Kennedy Center and New Harmony Project. An accomplished spoken word artist, his critically acclaimed album BREAK BEAT POEMS was featured onThe New York Timesmusic blog and National Public Radio. Goodwin has performed in venues across the country and was featured on HBO, Sesame Street and Discovery Channel. He the author of the pushcart nominated essay collection THESE ARE THE BREAKS (Write Bloody, 2011).Idris teaches performance writing and Hip Hop aesthetics at Colorado College.

OMI OSUN JONI L. JONESis an artist/scholar and an Associate Professor in the African and African Diaspora Studies Department at the University of Texas at Austin. Jones’s scholarship focuses on performance ethnography, theatrical jazz, Yoruba-based aesthetics, Black Feminisms, and activist theatre. Her recent performances includesista docta,Falling (in Love and War), andGathering Honey. She is a member of the Urban Future Network and Body Politic Think Tanks at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco, and is co-editor with Lisa Moore and Sharon Bridgforth ofExperiments in a Jazz Aesthetic: Art, Activism, Academia, and the Austin Project(University of Texas Press, 2010). Jones’s forthcoming collaborative ethnography,Theatrical Jazz: Performance, Ase, and the Power of the Present Moment(Ohio State University Press), will be available in the spring of 2015.

ALEXANDER THOMAS. Born in Albany, NY and married to a wife who works for the Foreign Service, Alexander has lived in London, Berlin and currently in Toronto. His solo play,Throw Pitchfork, premiered off-Broadway at New York Theatre Workshop, regionally at KitchenTheatre Company in Ithaca, and won a prize at the Monodrama Festival in Kiel, Germany. He co-wroteBlack Stuff, a satiric look at black identity in America which performed at Highways Performance Space, National Black Theater Festival, The New York International Fringe Festival, and Kitchen Theatre Company. He is a contributing writer for The American Slavery Project:Unheard Voices, a theatrical event giving voice to the 419 slaves discovered in unmarked graves at the African Burial Grounds in New York. His playSchwarz Gemacht or Klaus Finds His Blacknesswas produced spring of 2014 at the English Theatre of Berlin in Berlin Germany. As an actor, he has works often at the Kitchen Theater in productions as diverse asSunset Baby, Opus, Broke-ology, After AshleyandThe Whipping Man.His international stage credits include the Edinburgh Festival and London`s West End (On The Waterfront),Luxembourg City(The Goat or Who is Sylvia?),Berlin, (Utopia/Dystopia).

KELI GOFF(PANELIST)is an internationally recognized multi-platform journalist and fiction writer best known for documenting the intersections of politics, pop culture, race and gender in America. As a journalist her work has appeared in some of the world’s leading publications, including the magazinesTime, CosmopolitanandEssence, and the web editions ofThe New York Times, The Guardian, The AtlanticandNew York Magazine. Currently a Columnist forThe Daily Beast, Keli previously served as a Contributor toThe Washington Postblog “She the People,”The Huffington Postand the online magazineThe Root.Keli’s columns have sparked national conversations in a variety of media outlets, includingThe Wall Street Journaland NBC’s “Meet the Press.” She has appeared on more than 100 television and radio programs providing political analysis and cultural criticism on the networks CBS, MSNBC, NPR, FOX, BET, the BBC and many others. In 2014 she began writing for theater and television.aaShe recently joined the writing staff of the critically acclaimed drama series“Being Mary Jane.”A recipient of thePublic Theater Emerging Writers Group Fellowship,from 2014-2016 Keli will work closely with nine other playwrights on developing new material.The author of two books, her first,Party Crashing: How the Hip Hop Generation Declared Political Independence (Basic Books, March 2008)featured interviews with young voters and high profile leaders, including former Secretary of State Colin Powell and hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons.The Washington PostcalledParty Crashing“engaging” while Arianna Huffington declared that it “Should be on the nightstand of candidates on either side of the political aisle.” Her second book, the political novelThe GQ Candidate(Atria Books, 2011), was designated a recommended summer selection byThe Los Angeles TimesandMore Magazine. Keli’s books have generated extensive coverage in outlets such asVanity FairandUSA Today. She was also profiled in the book“No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How we Think about Power,”by bestselling author Gloria Feldt. Keli is also featured as one of the “expert bloggers” in the book"The Huffington Post Complete Guide to Blogging".A member of the National Association of Black Journalists, Keli holds a B.A. from New York University and a Master’s degree in Strategic Communications from Columbia University. Born and raised in Texas, Keli now splits her time between Manhattan and Los Angeles. Follow Keli on twitter @keligoff

DOMINIQUE MORISSEAU (PANELIST), writer and actress, is an alumnus of the Public Theater Emerging Writer’s Group, the Women’s Project Playwrights Lab, and Lark Playwrights’ Workshop.Among her playwriting credits are:Detroit ’67(Public Theater; Classical Theatre of Harlem/NBT; Northlight Theatre),Sunset Baby(Labyrinth Theater Co – NYC; Gate Theater- London),andFollow Me To Nellie’s(O’Neill; Premiere Stages).Her produced one-acts include:Third Grade(Fire This Time Festival);Black at Michigan(Cherry Lane);Socks, Roses Are Played OutandLove and Nappiness(Center Stage; ATH);love.lies.liberation(The NewGroup),Bumrush(Hip Hop Theater Festival) andThe Masterpiece(Harlem9/HSA).Dominique is currently developing a 3-play cycle on her hometown of Detroit, entitled“The Detroit Projects.”Detroit ’67is the first of the series. The second play, Paradise Blue, was developed with Voice and Vision, the Hansberry Project at ACT, New York Theatre Workshop, McCarter Theatre, Williamstown Theatre Festival, and the Public Theater.Dominique’s work has also been published in NY Times bestseller“Chicken Soup for the African American Soul”and in the Harlem-based literary journal “Signifyin’ Harlem.”She is the 2014 Kennedy Prize winner, a Jane Chambers Playwriting Award honoree, a two-time NAACP Image Award recipient, a runner-up for the Princess Grace Award, a recipient of the Elizabeth George commission from South Coast Rep, a commendation honoree for the Primus Prize by the American Theatre Critics Association, winner of the Barrie and Bernice Stavis Playwriting Award, the Weissberger Award for Playwriting, the U of M – Detroit Center Emerging Leader Award, and a Lark/PoNY (Playwrights of New York) Fellow. She is an artist that believes wholeheartedly in the power and strength of community.

KEVIN POWELL (PANELIST)is one of the most acclaimed political, cultural, literary and hip-hop voices in America today. Kevin is a native of Jersey City, raised by a single mother in extreme poverty, but managed to study at Rutgers University in New Brunswick thanks to New Jersey’s Educational Opportunity Fund. Kevin has gone on to be the author of 11 books, includingBarack Obama, Ronald Reagan, and the Ghost of Dr. King: Blogs and Essays. Among his upcoming books is his memoir of a very difficult childhood and youth, to be released in 2015 by Simon & Schuster. In 2016, he will publish a biography of Tupac Shakur, the late rapper and controversial American icon. Kevin's writings have also appeared,Esquire, Ebony, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Rolling Stone, The Guardian,ESPN.comandVibe Magazine, where he worked for many years as a senior writer, interviewing such diverse public figures as Tupac Shakur and General Colin Powell.Kevin routinely appears in interviews on television, radio, and in print and on the internet discussing major issues of our time. As an activist, he is the president and co-founder of BK Nation, a new national, progressive, multicultural organization focused on such issues as education, civic engagement, leadership training, health and wellness, social media, arts and culture, and job and small business creation. Kevin was also a Democratic candidate for Congress in Brooklyn, New York, his adopted hometown, in 2008 and 2010. Kevin routinely travels nationally and globally as a public speaker, at colleges and corporations, at various institutions, and a wide range of communities. Recent speaking engagements include stops at Microsoft headquarters, Stanford University, the U.S. Department of Justice, the 50th Anniversary Celebration of the "March on Washington," a one-week residency at the American University in Nigeria, visiting lecturer positions at Central State University and Virginia State University and as Hip-hop Scholar-in-Residence at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture.On behalf of the U.S. State Department, he toured Japan lecturing on the relevance of Dr. King's famous "I Have A Dream" speech in the 21st century. Kevin also visited Wales in the United Kingdom for a series of lectures and workshops on the 100th birthday of 20th century poet Dylan Thomas, and the connections between Welsh and American poetry and spoken-word traditions. As a result, he was named the International Ambassador for the Dylan Thomas Centennial in America for 2014.As a pop culture curator, Kevin produced the first exhibit on the history of hip-hop in Americaat the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, which toured America and overseas. As a humanitarian, Kevin's work includes local, national and international initiatives to end violence against women and girls (including a very well-regarded appearance onThe Oprah WinfreyShowhighlighting domestic violence); and he has done extensive philanthropic and relief work, ranging from Hurricane Katrina to earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, to Superstorm Sandy in New York, to his annual holiday party and clothing drive for the homeless every December since 9/11.

FRANK LEON ROBERTS (PANELIST)is currently on the Visiting Faculty of NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study where he teaches courses on race, ethnicity, and American cultural politics. He has previously taught at Hunter College, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, The City University of New York, The New School, and the W.E.B. DuBois Scholars Institute at Princeton University. Educated at New York University and Yale University, his early upbringing in inner city New York as the son of an incarcerated father and single mother on welfare helped radically shape his political commitment to disenfranchised black and brown communities. A dynamic speaker and jazz-inspired public intellectual, he now travels internationally---lecturing on topics related to what he calls the "malfunctions of American democracy" (from poverty and the prison industrial complex to police brutality and anti-black racism in the age of the Obama Presidency). His recent activist work in Ferguson and with the Black Lives Matter movement in New York City has been profiled on CNN,The London Times, and a multitude of media outlets. The co-founder of the National Black Justice Coalition, he has recently given in lectures in Scotland, France, and England---and is at work on a global tour to commence in 2015.A frequent contributor toThe Huffington Post, he has written for Vibe Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Village Voice, The Daily Voice, Uptown Magazine and many other media outlets. As a scholar and critic, Roberts' work has been the recipient of several high profile awards including the Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship of the National Academies and the MARBL Fellowship at Emory University. Prior to graduate school, he was as the research assistant to legendary civil rights attorney Johnnie Cochran Jr. (where he assisted Cochran in research related to the African American reparations movement). Frank is an active member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.

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“The dramatic literature from every country, beginning with Greece, is our heritage. It is not to be read; it is to be seen on stage. Most Americans know little of it. This is our challenge, our duty, and our mission in life to bring live theatre to our city and country at a price which families can afford.”
-Tony Randall