Beginning in 1917, the Harlem Renaissance was the flowering of Black performing, literary and visual arts that signaled the birth of the New Negro Movement, an attempt by African Americans in the arts to define their own identity free of historic stereotypes.
In the words of novelist and poet Langston Hughes, “We younger artists who create now intend to express our individual dark-skinned selves without fear or shame. If white people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, it doesn’t matter. We know we are beautiful. And ugly too. The tom-tom cries and the tom-tom laughs. If colored people are pleased, we are glad. If they are not, their displeasure doesn’t matter either. We build our temples for tomorrow, strong as we know how, and we stand on top of the mountain, free within ourselves.”
In the decades that followed, the New Negro Movement made its way west from Harlem to California, and Los Angeles’ Central Avenue became the center of African-American culture in this city.
The 2017 Paul Robeson Theatre Festival will celebrate the Harlem Renaissance and the impact that it ultimately had on Black culture and the arts in Los Angeles.
The Robey Theatre Company, founded by Ben Guillory and Danny Glover, has presented award-winning African-American theatre in Los Angeles for over two decades. Its Paul Robeson Theatre Festival will take place at Los Angeles Theatre Center, 514 S. Spring St., Los Angeles, CA 90013 in Downtown’s Historic Core.
Friday, August 25
- Gala reception, welcoming by co-founders Danny Glover and Ben Guillory, formal announcements of upcoming events, presentation of awards recognizing creative achievements, and the rehearsed reading of a new play, Birdland Blues, by Randy Ross Ph.D.
Saturday, August 26
- A Conversation: Playwriting-The Creative Process
- Performances of a program of short plays inspired by the theme of the Festival
Sunday, August 27
- A Conversation: The Rehearsal Process
- A repeat performance of the short plays