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This Week in Black Art: James Earl Jones Gets a Thearer Named in His Honor,  New Black Arts Executives, and more

This Week in Black Art: James Earl Jones Gets a Thearer Named in His Honor, New Black Arts Executives, and more

This Week in Black Art and Cultured is sponsored by The Children’s Trust

 

This week in Black art and culture, a new edition of For Colored Girls is to be published ahead of the show’s revival. Michael Hurt has joined The Adrienne Arsht Center as vice president of operations. Adele Adele Hixon-Day has been named chief of advancement at the Smithsonian. The 30th year of the Women’s Jazz Festival (WJF) is starting next week at the Schomburg Center. The Black Iris Project will host the world premiere of Jeremy McQueen’s WILD. The Cort Theatre is to be renamed the James Earl Jones Theatre. 

New Edition of For Colored Girls To Be Published Ahead of Revival

In honor of its planned Broadway production by Tony-nominated choreographer and director Camille A. Brown (Once On This Island, Choir Boy), Scribner has announced a reprint of Ntozake Shange’s play for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf in April 2022. Introductions will be written by Brown and novelist and Tulane University Associate Professor of English Jesmyn Ward. 

The book also will feature images from the Off-Broadway play, classics from the original performances, a selection from the Shange collection, and an additional poem never before included in the text. The revival’s entire cast and creative team were just revealed, with performances starting on Friday, April 1 and ending on Wednesday, April 20 at the Booth Theatre. Lady in Orange will be played by Amara Granderson, Tendayi Kuumba will play Lady in Brown, Kenita R. Miller will play Lady in Red, Okwui Okpokwasili will play Lady in Green, Stacey Sargeant will play Lady in Blue, Alexandria Wailes will play Lady in Purple, and D. Woods will play Lady in Yellow. 

Brown makes her Broadway debut as a director with this production. She choreographed and directed the Off-Broadway play at The Public Theater in 2019, and she will choreograph and direct the Broadway show. She will be the first Black woman in more than 65 years to serve as both director and choreographer of a Broadway play. In a news release, Camille A. Brown said: “Of all the shows to be given as an opportunity to debut as a first-time Broadway director and choreographer, for colored girls … feels like a gift. I’m thrilled that I’ve been entrusted to combine all the parts of myself—dance, music and theater arts—to shape and share this timeless story again with the world.” 

Michael Hurt Named VP of Operations 

Above: Michael Hurt. Photo by Justin Namon

The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County has announced that Michael Hurt has joined the Center as vice president of operations. Hurt will be responsible for oversight of the Arsht Center campus as leader of the Center’s production, information technology, building engineering, front of house and operations teams. 

Hurt joins the Arsht Center following management leadership roles at several major Miami venues where he played a key role in high-profile events including Art Basel, the NBA Finals, the Super Bowl, Major League Baseball All-Star Week, the reopening of the Miami Beach Convention Center and hundreds of arena and stadium concerts. In his most recent role as assistant general manager with Spectra Venue Management at the Convention Center, Hurt was responsible for event services, event operations, venue operations, public safety/transportation and IT for the venue, including nine acres of surrounding park space. 

Hurt’s prior experience also includes serving as director of ballpark operations at Marlins Park, where he assisted with the venue’s opening, and senior event manager for the Miami Heat and American Airlines Arena (now FTX Arena). 

“Michael brings extensive local experience in managing the operations of large facilities and events,” said Johann Zietsman, Arsht Center president and CEO. “In addition to his expertise, Michael has a creative problem-solving approach and is passionate about empowering the next generation of leaders.”

Born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana, Hurt has been a South Florida resident for more than 18 years. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University and an MBA from St. Thomas University. 

 

Hixon-Day Named Chief of Advancement 

Above: Adele Hixon-Day

Adele Hixon-Day has been named as the next chief of advancement of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). Hixon-Day has developed excellent relationships with Fortune 100 company leaders, mentored and supervised nonprofit executives throughout the country, and established and implemented creative national fundraising initiatives over her professional career. 

She belongs to a wide range of service organizations, including Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Women of Color in Philanthropy. Adrienne Brooks, the departing head of advancement, will retire in April after more than 15 years of service at NMAAHC, and Hixon-Day will take her place. NMAAHC raised more than $500 million during Brooks’ leadership, setting a new norm for charitable giving in the museum space. 

“We are excited to welcome Adele Hixon-Day to NMAAHC,” said Kevin Young, the museum’s Andrew W. Mellon Director. “Adele’s experience in nonprofit management and leadership development make her especially suited to join the museum at this time. As a skilled professional in fundraising and philanthropy, she has experience with both the financial and visionary aspects of executing a national endowment campaign and is dedicated to leading and uplifting our equally gifted team.” 

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is the nation’s largest and most comprehensive cultural destination devoted exclusively to exploring, documenting and showcasing the African American story and its impact on American and world history. 

WJF To Return in Its 30th year 

The annual Women’s Jazz Festival (WJF) at the Schomburg Center is commemorating 30 years honoring Black women composers and musicians and their contributions to the world of jazz. Melba Joyce, a jazz soprano and former Harlem resident, launched the WJF in 1992. Year after year, the festival and its curators have brought together musicians, dancers, and a fusion of musical genres to produce an exciting series of events, including some of the best-known and upcoming female jazz performers today. 

The 2022 event will take place in person on March 7, 8, 14 and 21. On March 7, Alicia Waller & The Excursion will take the stage, a quintet devoted to an ambitious quest of sound discovery. On March 8, festival founder Melba Joyce and prior festival organizers Toshi Reagon, Brandee Younger and Aja Burrell Woods will explore 30 years of curating the festival’s sound. Robin Bell-Stevens, director and executive producer of Jazzmobile Inc. will moderate the discussion. Following the panel, Jazzmobile, Inc. will give a musical performance. 

A double header featuring vocalists Renée Neufville (half of 90s duo Zhané) and Laurin Talese finally will play on March 14 after they had been set to participate at the 2020 Women’s Jazz Festival shortly before the pandemic caused their performance to be canceled. Endea Owens, bassist and bandleader, will finish out the festival on March 21. 

Stage Debut of WILD 

The Black Iris Project, launched in 2016 by choreographer Jeremy McQueen in cooperation with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and 651 ARTS, will host the world premiere of WILD, the stage version of choreographer Jeremy McQueen’s New York Emmy®-nominated dance film series, as a part of Carnegie Hall’s Afrofuturism festival. This adaptation also will be broadcast on television and available worldwide at the Black Iris Project’s website. 

The Black Iris Project is a ballet collaboration and education vehicle dedicated to creating new, relevant classical and contemporary dance pieces that honor diversity and Black heritage. The initiative is based in New York City and has a team primarily of artists of color who create cross-disciplinary and unique works. Loosely, WILD, based on Maurice Sendak’s iconic children’s book Where the Wild Things Are, follows a young kid as he celebrates his 14th birthday while jailed at a juvenile detention facility. It investigates the impact of seclusion and incarceration on childhood development. 

651 Arts is a Brooklyn-based arts group whose purpose is to raise awareness and appreciation for contemporary performing arts and African diaspora culture and give professional and creative opportunities for African-descent artists. WILD is co-presented by 651 ARTS as part of “Live @651 ARTS,” a performance series that premieres virtual, digital or print performances live for the first time. The event will take place at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture on Thursday, March 17. 

James Earl Jones Honored 

Above: James Earl Jones. Photo by Eva Rinaldi.

 

The Shubert Organization, Inc. will rename the 110-year-old Cort Theatre the James Earl Jones Theatre in honor of the 91-year-old actor’s enormous contributions to Broadway and the artistic community. Throughout his theatrical career, which began in the 1950s, Jones has received two Tony Awards for Best Actor in a Play. The first came in 1969 for his part in The Great White Hope, and he won it again in 1987 for his performance in August Wilson’s Fences. 

Jones also was honored with a Tony Award for lifetime achievement in 2017. One of five Black EGOT (Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony) winners, he also has received the National Medal of Arts, the Kennedy Center Honor, and seven Drama Desk Awards. Known for his legendary voices, such as Darth Vader in Star Wars and Mufasa in The Lion King, he has performed on stage as recently as 2015, when he appeared in The Gin Game opposite Cicely Tyson. The James Earl Jones Theater will be the second Broadway venue named after a Black artist after the August Wilson Theatre. Mr. Jones has appeared in 14 Shubert Theatre shows on Broadway, including two at the Cort Theatre. 

“For me, standing in this very building 64 years ago at the start of my Broadway career, it would have been inconceivable that my name would be on the building today,” said Mr. Jones of Shubert’s decision to rename the Cort Theatre in his honor. “Let my journey from then to now be an inspiration for all aspiring actors.” 

Jones’ first lead role was in 1958’s Sunrise at the Campobello—at the theater that eventually will carry his name. Jones joins Alfred Lunt, Lynn Fontanne, Ethel Barrymore and Edwin Booth as the only Broadway actors to have a theater dedicated to them. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shubert has conducted extensive repair and construction work at the Cort Theatre site, including the erection of a new, contemporary wing off the building’s western façade. The renovations are expected to be completed in the summer of 2022, and when the facility reopens for productions, a formal dedication ceremony will take place.

-Compiled by Sumaiyah E. Wade