Triangle African American Theater Preview ’20

January 19, 2020

Cantey V. Sutton Theatre (General Admission)

Celebrate the rich and diverse season of African American theater in the Triangle! The Triangle Friends of African American Arts are bringing together several performing arts organizations to showcase the wonderful African American plays and musicals that will hit the stages in 2020. This special evening will include dramatic readings, songs, and scenes from upcoming performances. Hosted by Mike Williams of The Black on Black Project.

The program starts at 7:00pm and includes one intermission.

  • Bourbon at the Border: January 24 – February 9, 2020
    • When May and Charlie joined hundreds of other Americans who went to Mississippi in the summer of 1964 for a massive voter registration drive, they had no idea their lives were about to change forever. As students of Howard University, their campus activism had been met with calls to their parents and threats of expulsion. The stakes in Mississippi were a lot higher. White supremacists, outraged at the challenge to their segregated way of life, responded with violence that left three civil rights workers dead and many wounded. Years later, May and Charlie are still searching for a way back from the damage that was done to them during that long ago “Freedom Summer”. Unable to confide even in her best friend, Rosa, about the demons that haunt her dreams and twist Charlie’s love for her into something she can no longer recognize, May is convinced that if she can just get Charlie to leave Detroit and cross the bridge to Canada, they can start a new life. But when Rosa’s friend Tyrone gets Charlie a job as a truck driver, the madness of that summer bubbles over until it threatens all of their very lives. Bourbon at the Border takes a look at the lives of two ordinary people who gave everything they had to the African- American freedom struggle but who have now been largely forgotten. In telling May and Charlie’s story, Bourbon at the Border outs the human face of the unknown soldiers of the civil rights movement by refusing to romanticize them even as it honors their specific sacrifices and the price they paid. North Raleigh Arts and Creative Theatre
  • Loving: February 13 – 29, 2020
    • The greatest Love story in America history is appropriately enough the Loving story. In the 1950s, Richard Loving, a white Virginia construction worker, loved Mildred Jeter an African American. Virginia state law prohibited interracial marriage, and, when state authorities found out Richard and Mildred had married, the couple was arrested an put on trial and received a 25 year jail sentence, suspended if they left the state. They tried to make a life in Washington D.C., but found it dangerous for their three children, so they moved back to Virginia, where they were arrested and allowed never to meet under the same roof on pain of jail. They appealed their case to the Virginia Supreme court where the state again ruled against the Lovings. Finally, in a landmark United States Supreme Court decision, Loving V Virginia, laws prohibiting interracial marriage were ruled unconstitutional. Pure Life Theatre Company
  • Dreamgirls: February 11 – 16, 2020
    • Inspired by Motown and R&B legends of the 1960s-70s, Dreamgirls follows the rising stardom of the Dreamettes, an all-girl singing trio from Chicago. The three best friends—the phenomenally talented, but demanding Effie White, the beautiful and appealing Deena Jones, and the eager, romantic Lorrell Robinson—team up with driven, demanding manager Curtis Taylor, who is determined to see their—and his—star rise. As their careers begin to take off, changes are made to ensure their mass appeal to the pop market. Egos are bruised, tempers flare, and hearts are broken in pursuit of stardom. Inspired by the stories of groups such as The Supremes and The Shirelles and featuring many iconic classic songs, Dreamgirls is a love letter to American R&B music and the artists that make such music great. North Carolina Central University
  • A Staged Reading of The Old Settler: February 21 – 22, 2020
    • “The Old Settler [is]…Redwood’s gentle, sweet-natured comedy about life in Harlem in 1943. It’s a play that chooses to remember the good without the bad, being about the relationship of two aging, church-going sisters…and what happens when a handsome young fellow, newly arrived from the Deep South, rents a room in the apartment they share…” – New York Post Li V Mahob Productions
  • The Founding Fathers of Black Wall Street: March TBD
    • This dynamic new play tells the true story of three men who came together in 1900 and launched a company that established Black Wall Street and created America’s “Capital of the Black Middle Class” in Durham, NC. After touring the city in 1912, W.E.B. Dubois noted that the social and economic development of African Americans was “more striking than that of any similar group in the nation.” While people around the world questioned the ability of African Americans to create a new pattern of existence after slavery, these men recognized that the true spirit of success comes from believing in oneself and believing in one’s race. Triangle Friends of African American Arts
  • HIS Thoughts – In Honor of Keenan Gorham: March 6 – 7, 2020
    • On Thursday, April 19, 2012 we lost one of our most beloved wordsmiths. He was a visionary, a bright soul, and an amazing poet. In this production we celebrate the amazing talent of Keenan Gorham as cast members bring his poems to life. There will be music, there will be eloquence, and there will be dance. This production tells a story of love, life, hope and triumph. You will be uplifted and inspired. Keenan Gorham had been writing for years. He started with traditional form, as he was an avid lover of poetry, collecting books from such authors as Dickinson, Whitman, Hughes, Frost, Angelou, Hammon, Sanchez, Poe, Dunbar, Cullen, Brooks, Tate and Giovanni. He soon started incorporating various other writing styles into his works. Here in the Triangle, he became familiar with spoken word and poetry slam and the distinctive and animated nature of both. After being introduced to this type of expression and its poets, he fell in love with it and began to look at other ways to bring his words to life. He touched many with his crafty word play, emotional depth, command of vocabulary, and universal themes. His work will be forever remembered. Black Poetry Theatre
  • Bud, Not Buddy: March 13 – 29, 2020
    • It’s 1936 in Flint, Michigan, and 10-year-old Bud is sure about two things: he wants to find his father, and he is not called Buddy. Follow him as he sets off an epic journey of discovery, set to the soulful sounds of jazz. Theatre Raleigh
  • Memphis: March 24 – 29, 2020
    • From the underground dance clubs of 1950s Memphis comes the Tony and Olivier Award-winning musical that bursts off the stage with explosive dancing, irresistible songs, and a thrilling tale of fame and forbidden love. Inspired by actual events, MEMPHIS follows the story of a white radio DJ who wants to change the world, and a black club singer waiting for her big break. Come along on their incredible journey to the ends of the airwaves – filled with laughter, soaring emotion, and roof-raising rock ‘n’ roll. North Carolina Theatre
  • A Raisin in the Sun: April 10 – 26, 2020
    • Walter Lee Younger hopes to use his father’s life-insurance money to open a liquor store with two partners. His mother, with the support of Walter’s pragmatic wife, Ruth, and independent sister Beneatha, instead uses part of the money as a down payment on a house in an all-white neighborhood. Family tensions and prejudice they face form this seminal American drama. The Younger family’s heroic struggle to retain dignity in a harsh and changing world is a searing and timeless document of hope and inspiration. Raleigh Little Theatre
  • Sweet Mama Stringbean: The Life & Times of Ethel Waters: July 24 – 26, 2020
    • Ethel Waters was the Beyonce or Halle Berry of her day. Waters was a ‘Super Star’ during the depression-era. As a Broadway star and an Academy Award nominee, she could ‘shake her thang’ and make audiences shake with pleasure. Share her musical story in this play that received a commendation from the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. Familiar and passionate songs of the jazz age highlight this musical, dramatic story of Ethel Waters’ rise to fame. Born in poverty, Ethel was one of the greatest artists of her generation. She was the first Black woman to sing on the radio, the first to headline a show at New York’s Palace Theatre and the first to star in a dramatic play on Broadway. In her later years, Waters was nominated for two Academy Awards, before traveling as a soloist, with the Billy Graham Crusade. Join us for this unforgettable musical theatre experience, with fourteen of Ethel Waters’ signature songs, including Stormy Weather, St. Louis Blues; My Handy Man; My Handy Man Ain’t Handy No More; Shake That Thing; Am I Blue and ending with the Gospel classic, His Eye is on the Sparrow. Directed by Kenneth Hinton. The Agape Theatre Project

Ticket Information

Show Time:

  • Sunday, January 19, 2020 at 7:00pm

Tickets on sale nowBuy them online or from the box office at 919-821-3111. Single ticket prices, excluding tax:

  • Adults: $20
  • Students/Seniors: $18

Seniors are age 62 and up. Students are through college.

All proceeds from ticket sales support the work of Triangle Friends of African American Arts.

Accessibility Information

  • The Cantey V. Sutton Theatre is wheelchair accessible.

  • Assistive listening devices are available. For those sensitive to loud sounds, noise reduction headphones are available upon request at the Box Office (limited quantities).

  • Audio description for those with visual disabilities upon request.