The National Black Theater has announced the start of its new 55th season lineup with a free public program, Learn to Love Yourself Saturdays: Silent Disco & Portrait Series in partnership with Turnout NYC and Uptown Grand Central.
Forged from a quote, the founder, Dr Barbara Ann Teer, would basically say, “Learn to love yourself”, the institution enlivens its legacy and a call to action in the aftermath of all we have had to face as a community and as a society. For four consecutive Saturdays, August 13 through September 3 from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. at the Park Avenue Underpass (between 124th and 125th Streets), NBT will present the Silent Disco/Portrait Series featuring the commissioned sound compositions originally by five particularly gifted musical artists:
· JOJO ABOT – is a nomadic interdisciplinary artist exploring evolving themes of spirituality, identity and community with self as a starting point for collective evolution.
· Holland Andrews – is a singer, songwriter and performance artist whose work focuses on the abstraction of operatic voice and extended technique to create soundscapes encompassing both catharsis and dissonance.
· Aaron Marcellus – is a singer, vocal coach, writer, musician, dancer and actor, started singing Gospel music. Aaron is the founder and CEO of “Surrender To Love” LLC; a foundation that financially supports music and arts programs and feeds hungry bellies.
· Justin Hicks – is a multidisciplinary artist and performer who uses music and sound to explore themes of presence, identity and value. Hicks was a member of Kara Walker’s 6-8 month space and holds a culinary degree from ICE in New York.
· Mikaal Sulaiman – is a writer, director, sound designer and composer. As a writer, he is currently working in a writer’s room on a new episodic show for A24/Amazon. He is a professor at the Yale School of Drama as the head of the sound design concentration.
These 10-15 minute artist-inspired soundscapes will be incorporated by East London and Harlem resident DJ Stormin’ Norman into a three-hour live mixing session each Saturday, where attendees can play with headphones provided on site. . This summer experience will also include a free portrait station that invites the community to have their professional photos taken by another notable master portrait photographer. They are – Braylen Dion (8/13), originally from Georgia, now based in New York, has worked for countless major brands, including Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair and BET; Lelund Durond Thompson (8/20), Los Angeles-based actor, photographer, and writer; Eric Hart, Jr. (8/27), Georgia native and NYU graduate, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Rolling Stone and more; Gioncarlo Valentine (9/03), an award-winning photographer/writer from Baltimore City whose work has appeared in countless publications for brands including The Gap, Saks Fifth Avenue and PUMA. All portrait photographers will use the set designed by renowned visual artist Alixa Garcia.
“In 1973, Dr. Teer said that the path to liberation is linked to learning self-love. With this, she gave us the blueprint to move forward. This is the perfect way to come together during the summer! parts of ourselves that need it. It’s through our image that we also reflect that life,” said NBT CEO Sade Lythcott. “This program is meant to be a celebration, a way of saying LIFE to our community and to ourselves. To allow us to be captured, moved and seen as the royal vessels for which we were designed. Join us in polishing our crown, and let the vibrations of love heal our community and reflect the power within.”
NBT and UGC welcome all participants – from residents, visitors, tourists and anyone looking for something transformative to do in New York City, to this free, community-driven initiative that will provide infrastructure support to arts organizations. and cultural heritage, while expanding access to the arts throughout the city.
Learn to Love Yourself Saturdays: Silent Disco & Portrait Series is driven by Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s commitment to being “…bold and unconventional about her love of black people”, and in line with her radical belief that loving “our black selves” is the first step towards reclaiming the collective power needed to eliminate oppression.
The Turnout NYC outdoor event series has been in the planning for two years, with the goal of transforming five underutilized outdoor spaces across the five boroughs into venues for artistic expression. In Harlem, Turnout NYC is centered on The Underpass, located on Park Avenue (between 124th and 125th Streets), which was recently renovated by the New York Department of Transportation and is operated by Uptown Grand Central. Throughout the month of Turnout NYC in Harlem, NBT’s sound compositions will be joined by a light installation by renowned transit lighting designer, NightSeeing’s Leni Schwendinger. It presents a creative response to the sound and lighting challenges of a community space located under elevated railway tracks and offers solutions to make such a space more welcoming to performing artists and community initiatives.
The Design Trust for Public Space, in partnership with architectural firm SITU, helped launch the Turnout NYC initiative, which was funded by a $2 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.
Learn to Love Yourself Saturdays: Silent Disco & Portrait Series will take place on:
August 13 – September 3
Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Underpass, located at Park Avenue (between streets 124 and 125)
Black National Theater
The National Black Theater (NBT), the nation’s first revenue-generating black arts complex, was founded in 1968 by the late visionary artist Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. NBT is New York’s oldest black theater, one of the oldest theaters founded and still operated by a woman of color in the country and most recently included in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African History and Culture. Americans in Washington. , DC NBT uses a multidisciplinary theatrical approach as a way to center, humanize and heal black communities through the power of unapologetic black storytelling. NBT’s unique approach to black liberation, art and place-making acts as an agent of change to challenge systemic oppression, which creates space for human transformation. Under the direction of Sade Lythcott, CEO, and Jonathan McCrory, Executive Artistic Director, NBT’s three core programs – the Theater Arts Program, the Communication Arts Program and the Entrepreneurial Arts Program – help reshape a more inclusive American theatrical field by providing artistic rigor and cultural sensitivity. space for artists of color to experiment, develop and showcase new work. Working with pioneering artists from Nona Hendrix to Jeremy O. Harris, and helping to launch the careers, more recently, of artists such as Dominique Morisseau, Radha Blank, Mfoniso Udofia, Saheem Ali, Lee Edward Colston II and Ebony Noelle Golden, and incubating Obie Award-winning companies like The Movement Theater Company and 48Hours of Harlem9 in Harlem, NBT’s cultural output remains unparalleled. Located in the heart of Harlem, NBT welcomes more than 90,000 visitors a year; has produced over 300 original works; won 56 Audelco awards; received a CEBA Merit Award; and has been nominated for several Drama Desk awards. NBT is supported by grants from the Ford Foundation, New York Community Trust, Shubert Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Andrew Mellon Foundation, City Council of New York, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, Columbia Service Society and private donations. Visit www.nationalblacktheatre.org or follow NBT on Facebook (@NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).
Turnout NYC is led by Design Trust for Public Space, a non-profit organization dedicated to activating and transforming shared public spaces to create a more just, equitable, and sustainable city, and SITU, an architectural practice centered on design. social and creative impact. Guided by an advisory board of New York cultural leaders, the company designs and prototypes flexible and
semi-permanent outdoor spaces – one in each borough – in collaboration with cultural partners from each community.
Uptown Grand Central is a 501c3 nonprofit organization dedicated to transforming East 125th Street into a thriving corridor by providing programs that put advocacy into action through collaborations with businesses, residents and neighborhood organizations across East Harlem. Since 2013, we have rekindled community hopes through programs that include organizing our small businesses; hiring formerly homeless people to clean up our streets; beautify the commercial corridor with seasonal plantings and Christmas lights; sponsor street festivals and promotions, including Solstice Soul Train and Party On Park; and adopt the space under the Metro-North tracks at 125th & Park as a community plaza that features live music, exercise classes, and a year-round farmer’s market. Uptown Grand Central’s previous public art projects have included the creation of the “Harlem Sunrise” mural beneath the Metro-North tracks at 125th Street & Park Avenue, the Uptown Grandscale Mural Project along 125th Street at East Harlem, as well as a partnership with the 100 Gates Project to build relationships between local small businesses and area artists that resulted in more than 30 murals in storefronts on East 125th Street.