Theatre Without Boundaries!  


Programs

  • Shakespeare
  • Made Simple
  • World Voices
  • Youth Drama
  • Workshops
  • Youth Internships
  • Under-served
  • Audience
    Outreach
  • New Play
  • Development
  • Women's Work
  • Project
  • Voices From
  • the Edge
  • Shakespeare
  • Bootcamp
    Productions
    About NPT
    Contact NPT

    Home

    PROGRAMS — VOICES FROM THE EDGE


    CLICK HERE FOR 2010 EVENTS!

    PROGRAM HISTORY

    In 1997 NPT Artistic Director Melody Brooks met a number of talented African American artists through Community Works, an arts-in-education organization that she was helping to develop. These writers and performers were creating extraordinary theatre—much of it based on their personal experiences in helping populations in need—youth offenders, the homeless, female prisoners, persons with HIV/AIDS, public school children, etc. through workshops and developmental programs. They performed for the same populations, or sometimes in neighborhood organizations.  Through plays, solo pieces, storytelling, poetry and multi-media productions, these artists created powerful theatre infused with a strong sense of purpose and connection to the community, speaking to the many issues confronting African Americans today. 

    In February 1998, Ms. Brooks created and produced the first VFE Festival, inviting these artists to present existing works that had been performed in non-theatre settings.  NPT wanted to give them access to a larger audience, but more importantly, we believed that the general public needed to see the work.  Some of it was raw, some more polished, but it all fulfilled our vision of what theatre is about—to educate and enlighten as well as entertain—to move audiences on a visceral level and challenge them to become agents for change.

    The first festival was very exciting, and audience feedback confirmed our instincts that there was indeed an important need for such a program. Since then, we have produced an annual festival each February, and in September 2001 expanded it to a bi-annual event with VFE 4.1.  This was in response to artists’ requests for attention to works by African Americans in more than just one month out of the year.  In order to be considered for inclusion in VFE, selections cannot have had a professional production in NYC (defined as an AEA Showcase production or higher.)

    In the past, festivals included 7-10 pieces which received two-three performes.  Selections have been an eclectic mix, representing the diversity of new works by African American writers and performers—staged readings and performances of new plays (full length, one-acts and ensemble pieces), one-person shows, shorts, and mixed media presentations.  From 1999 to 2002, VFE culminated in a Spoken Word and Poetry Jam—bringing well-known poets from the entire Northeast together with emerging artists for a 5-hour perform-a-thon that gained a substantial reputation on the Spoken Word scene.

    Since 1997 we have presented more than 70 theatrical works that demonstrate the cutting edge creativity and diverse voices emanating from African American artists.  Following is a listing of pieces presented, with special highlights noted first. 

    CURRENT VFE GUIDELINES

    Since the loss of our black box theatre space in 2006, we have shifted the focus of Voices From the Edge from a large-scale festival to a smaller presentation.  While the number of artists is fewer, we are giving more developmental and dramaturgical support to writers, and increasing the number of performances slightly.  This allows us to maintain our commitment to showcasing the works of African American artists and at the same time devote more time to specific projects.  Currently, VFE projects are selected by invitation only.

     

    Highlights from February 1998 to October 2007

    * indicates a play went on to a full production or other presentation at NPTC and/or another venue

     

    CHEWIN’ DA FAT ON LIFE

    OBIE-Award winning actress Stephanie Berry’s solo work-in-progress explores the “layer of fat” beneath the skin of everyday urban life.  Written & Performed by Stephanie Berry, Directed by Melody Brooks

     

    DEVIL IN THE SOULS OF SQUIRRELS*

    A son is dead.  Is it suicide?  It takes a stranger to bring the repressed truth to light and force a family to confront their prejudice.  Written by Derwin Alexander Johnson, Directed by Bette Howard, Starring Charles Brown

    DIVA DAUGHTERS DUPREE

    Three sisters meet for the first time since the death of their parents. Personal crises escalate amidst sibling rivalries, rocky romances, and exploding stereotypes in this look at life in the ‘90s for three women who define themselves and their “Blackness” on their own terms.    Written by Kim Euell, Directed by Judyie Al-Bilali

    FEVER

    Through spoken word and poetry, Melissa Maxwell shares some insight into her personal journey thus far, while offering some interesting  and  often unexpected perspectives on the world around her.

    Written & performed by Melissa Maxwell, Directed by Elise Hernandez

    FINDING HOME*

    When “home” is the last resort for refuge, how can we find our place in the world?  Three generations of womenmust confront their individual  anguish and learn to redefine the meaning of “family”.

    Written by Keline Adams, Directed by Melody Brooks, Starring Marcella Lowery

    HEAT

    Can three generations of women survive the heat, a broken air conditioner and each other?

    Written by Marsha Estell, Directed by Lynda Gravátt,  Starring Novella Nelson

     

    THE DAY EAZY-E DIED

    This best-selling novelist’s first play reveals the vulnerability beneath the gangsta/playa persona and challenges homophobia in the African-American community.  Written by James Earl Hardy, Directed by Jason King

     

    LEMON MERINGUE FAÇADE

    Four beautiful, blonde friends are forced to reexamine their beliefs after a life-altering event exposes their façade.  Written by Ted Lange, Directed by Jackie Alexander

    ON THE HILLS OF BLACK AMERICA

    Seven other-worldly short plays that turn the souls of black folk inside out for hilarious satire and righteous examination.  Written by Keith Josef Adkins, Directed by Lisa Erika James

    SAFEHOUSE

    The near future…Blacks have been banned from reading classic literature of all cultures…punishable by death.  In subterranean spaces across America, Blacks have formed SAFEHOUSES...to celebrate the words of poets, prophets, and playwrights… at a terrible cost.  Written & Directed by Seret Scott, Starring Elain Graham and Lynda Gravátt

     

    UNREQUITED LOVE*

    Hlarious, hard-hitting comedy giveseach side a chance to speak their piece as they explore the dynamics of the male/female relationship today and beg to answer the question: Can we all get along?  Written & Directed by Melissa Maxwell

     

    UNTITLED & UNFINISHED*

    New York, New York!  An 18-month odyssey of lunatic roommates, hellhole apartments and strangers in the night as one newcomer struggles to find her place and make it in the Big Apple.  A testament to perseverance and hope, and the power of Spoken Word!  Written & Performed by Yolanda Wilkinson, Directed by Melody Brooks

    Other Plays & Performances Presented in VFE from 1998 to 2004

    ALI..FROM CASSIUS CLAY TO BOMAYE

     “All the world is a stage, but on that stage is a ring.  And everybody is in their own individual ring, fighting for their lives.”  Written by Gregory Holtz, In Development with Jeffrey Thompson

    ALL ABOUT ESTHER

    Take a walk on the flip side with the chitlin’ circuit’s riotous version of All About Eve.

    Written by L. Trey Wilson, Directed by George Spencer

    THE ART OF DYING

    A poetic journey that takes on a taboo subject and lays it comfortably in your lap.   Written by Nashid Fareed, Directed by George Spencer

     

    AT THE BOTTOM OF THE SEA: A Fisherman’s Tale

    After 30 years, a Jamaican fisherman battles a giant record company to reclaim his music, and passes the legacy of his song to his grandson.  Written by Dawn Campbell, Directed by Sharon Fallon

    THE BALLAD OF BRUDDER AND DA QUEEN, A WEED TALE, & THE VESSEL

    A Trilogy of Spoken Word Performances

    Written and performed by Jade D. Banks

    BARNSTORMER*

    Before Amelia Earhardt there was Bessie Coleman, the first Black woman flyer.  Written by Cheryl L. Davis, Directed by Jim Abar  

    BENCHED

    An expatriate African-American actress has become a Josephine Baker-style singer in Paris, but finds she must update herself for the 21st century.  Written by Barbara Lewis, Directed by Faedra Chatard Carpenter

    BIG BUTT GIRLS AND OTHER FANTASIES

    A humorous take on the cultural conditioning that shapes women’s attitudes towards their own bodies.

    Written and performed by Marsha Estell, directed by Tiffany Trent

    BLACK FAGGOT SPEAKS

    An evening of meditations on life from the unique perspective of a gay, black, liberal, Republican intellectual!

    Written and performed by Reg Flowers, directed by Michael Early

    BODY, DANDER, DUST

    A grad student seeks the subject for her thesis.  She's looking for love as much as she's looking for an idea. The two desires coalesce in surprising ways.  Written by Gabrielle Civil, Directed by Melody Brooks

    BRIGHT-EYEING

    L. Trey Wilson acts alone.  Written and performed by L. Trey Wilson

    BROTHERS KIPLING

    In affluence, a game of chess ensues. Mother is Queen, father deposed by a lie.  Sex and mother—which one will survive?  Written by J.E. Robinson, Directed by Melody Brooks

    BYE BYE BLACKBIRDS

    An amusing and ultimately poignant tale of two lost souls struggling to survive homelessness and mental illness.

    Written by Randolph Umberger, Directed by Eric Coleman

    CARIBBEING

    A menagerie of characters from Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Cuba interrupt regularly scheduled TV programming to bring you excerpts from the Caribbean American cultural wars.  Written and performed by Tessa Martin, Directoed by Bill Van Horn

    COAL-COLORED FEMALES IN SEARCH OF THE 3RD DIMENSION

    An abstract tale of discovery and destiny reshaping by defining “the Woman with No Name” atop the auction/writer’s block.  Written by Nzinga Kemp, Directed by Passion

    CPR: A LOVE TRAGEDY

    A new play that asks the question, “Can love be truly color-blind?”  Written by Passion, Directed by Jaye Austin-Williams

    CREATION!

    An Afro-centric exploration of the meaning of life.  Written and Performed by Daniel Carlton

    DAUGHTERS OF THE MOON

    Set in a life drawing class, two models¾Nepthys, a young African American filmmaker, and Iris, a European American graduate student in literature¾strike up a friendship as they explore the ancient and contemporary fascination with the nude body.  Written by Yasmin Dixon, Directed by Isis Saratial Misdary

    DREADLOCKS, HARD KNOCKS, AUCTION BLOCKS & TICKING CLOCKS

    Excerpts From the African-American Experience

    Written and performed by Committed Artists of Color, Directed by Daniel Carlton

    ENTERTAINER’S EULOGY*

    A theatrical requiem chronicling the rise and fall of the African American entertainer.  Through the characters of a boxer, a soul singer and a minstrel show performer the play is a cautionary tale of the price of fame and show business.  Written and performed by Darian Dauchan, Directed by Jenny Koons

    FURTHER ADVENTURES OF GUSSIE MAE IN AMERICA*

    Part two in a solo performance trilogy chronicling three generations of African American women in one family.

    Written and performed by Letitia Guillory

    GOOD PEOPLE*

    Some of us claim we are.....Most of us hope we are......None of us, always are.....Good People

    Written by L. Trey Wilson   Directed by John Steber

    GREEN HONEY LOVE*

    Adultery, deceit, greed, and conspiracy of murder—your everyday comedy.  Written by Gail Wynn Huland El, Directed by  George Spencer

    HATTIE MAE WATKINS, AGE 38, GOES BACK TO SCHOOL

    Hattie Mae is about to bury the ghosts of her past once and for all, but she discovers that her ghosts have other plans!  Written by Joanna Reed, Directed by Adrienne Williams

    HOLLIS MUGLEY’S ONLY WISH

    A short play

    Written by Keith Josef Adkins, Directed by Evan Dexter Parke

    THE HUNTING SEASON

    If God were to warn you against danger, would you know to listen?  Would you understand?

    Written & Directed by Magaly Colimon

    INCOMPLETE PEOPLE

    An intricate patchwork of life's extremes—love, hate, betrayal, fear, frendship, sacrifice, insanity reincarnation, lies, and self-discovery.  A story about friendships and destiny and the turn each may take.  Written by Ainsley Burrows, Directed by George Spencer

    IN SEARCH OF MY OWN VOICE

    A one-woman show exploring a young performer’s search for identity.  Written and performed by Stacey Renae, Directed by Rick Balian

    JONES

    A modern adaptation of Eugene O’Neill’s The Emporer Jones, set in Harlem’s underworld.  Written by Aida Croal, Directed by Jeanette Staman

    JOYOUS

    A world-class opera singer throws her career and her love life into conflict when she decides to leave the Metropolitan Opera and join the fight against apartheid by scheduling a concert in Capetown, South Africa in defiance of the cultural ban.  Written by Pamela S. Booker, Directed by Sidne Anderson

    JUGGLIN’

    On the day of the media blitz after Jesse Jackson's affair, Moustapha gets a flurry of phone calls that reveal the many sides of his identity.   Written by Eric H. Talley II, Directed by Sidne Anderson

     

    LO SHE COMES

    A new spin on the old family saga, inspired by Antigone but set firmly in the contemporary South. Written by Renita Martin, Directed by Ariel Nazryan

    MISS ANN’S CHOICE

    Secrets abound and a family is destroyed in this story of inter-racial prejudice set in Southern California.

    Written by Jamal Williams, Directed by George Spencer

    MISS DIAGNOSIS

    A farcical tale of a man diagnosed with breast cancer, who feels he got it because his mother named him Francis. Written by Lisa McCree, Directed by Passion

    must I forever stay a beggar?*

    Solo musical performance with 4 comic yet poignant scenes of African American women struggling from the edge toward survival & hope.  Written & Performed by Dorcas M. Johnson, Directed by Peter Flynn

    OPEN

    A spoken word play about love and longing.  Written and performed by Francesca Chantal, Directed by Deirdre L. Hollman

    THE PASSING OF THE WIZARD

    In the mythical kingdom of Fachea, the coming death of the Royal Wizard marks the end of an era and fuels a vengeful conspiracy to seize the throne.  Written by Nashid Fareed, Directed by Hannah Fujiki-DeVorkin

    THE PSYCHO-GENESIS OF SEXUALITY IN A WOMAN

    At a hot summer's birthday celebration, the time of reckoning has come—ghost stories must be told, secrets exposed—the only thing at stake is the truth: our mother's secrets are our own.  Written by Petronia Paley, Directed by Shirley Parkinson

    PUDDIN’*

    This witty and comedic play set in 1987 asks, “Food and Life. How do they connect?  What does bread pudding have to do with it all?”  Written by Tia Dionne Hodge, Directed by Melody Brooks

    RED

    A seaty, bumpy ride of race, class and sports in an American family.  Written by Letitia Guillory, Directed by Lauren Rosen

    REFLECTIONS OF A DRY TEAR

    A solo performance piece exploring one young woman’s personal journey to self through the history of her ancestors.  Written and performed by Shonnese Coleman, Directed by Rod Gailes

    SALT IN A WOUND*

    The life-long struggle between a mother and daughter trying to live together in a world that is not big enough for both of them.  Written and directed by Melissa Maxwell

    SHELTER: REFUGEES OF THE AMERICAN DREAM*

    A powerful performance piece based on the experience of those who have faced homelessness—up close and personal.  by Committed Artists of Color, Directed by Daniel Carlton

    SINS OF THE MOTHER

    Alison is 18, but hardly grown, and choking on her mother’s love.  Her grandmother offers escape, but neither woman has her best interest at heart.   Written by T. Bradlee-Weston, Directed by  Shona Tucker

    SISTAH SONGS: NINE BLACK WOMEN WHO CHANGED AMERICA

    Intimate portraits of history’s most celebrated African-American women sharing their own stories.  Written by DeVellus L. Glover, Directed by Tom Ferriter

    STRAIGHT TALK: AGAINST THE GRAIN

    A one-woman show.  Written and performed by Magaly Colimon, Directed by Richard Hardin

    THUNDER & LIGHTNING

    On the day Jackie Robinson breaks the color barrier to play for the major leagues, Randy “Thunder” Thompson and Billy “Lightning” Magee vie for their ticket out of the Negro Baseball League.  Written by Ivan Comer and Taylor Hallman, Directed by Tom Ferriter

     

    TOUCH & 3

    A Choreopoem and trio of monologues.  Written by Winston Benons, Jr., Directed by Deirdre L. Hollman

     

    TOUCHSCAPE*

    This solo performance piece is a dynamic exploration of male sexuality that takes place in the blurred space between heterosexual and homosexual identity.  Bold, honest and politically resonant, Touchscape explores the ambiguity of desire and what we perceive as “normal”.  Written & performed by James Scruggs, directed by Melody Brooks

     

    TRAVELIN’ SHOES*

    A Harlem-born sister goes on an archaeological dig to excavate her soul, searching for the appreciation and acceptance she doesn't find at home.  Her travels take her from Sweden to Switzerland, from Mt. Fuji to Fiji and many other exotic ports of call!  A work-in-progress.  Written & Performed by Denise Lock, Directed by Stephanie Berry

     

    UPCITY SERVICE(S)

    Set in Harlem on the corner of 147th Street and Broadway, this provocative play raises issues of philosophy, religion, money, and obsession.  Written and directed by Dominic Anthony Taylor

    WOMEN I HAVE KNOWN

    A solo performance about the trauma of abuse and its effect on self-esteem. Names have been changed to protect the guilty.  Written & Performed by Sharon Hope, Staged by Celia Braxton