The Boston Black Theater Collective


Barbara Lewis, co-founder of the Boston Black Theater Collective, relates her thoughts on the necessity of art:
“Perhaps the most revealing encounter with art and the window it offers into what matters individually and culturally came during a visit I made about a decade ago to Charleston. I had been there previously as a child with my mother, and the beauty of the cypress trees in Brookgreen Gardens, a sculpture park, imprinted my mind with a towering majesty. On my second trip, I visited an exhibit of items women created in the Civil War. Because of scarcity, they invented what they needed out of what they possessed. The hair they collected in their combs and brushes was fashioned into everyday items such as buttons. That level of ingenuity extended my definition of art. It is not just inspirational, suggesting a cultivated ideal like the cypress trees, but also a balance struck between the discarded and the necessary. I usually think of art as ornamental, but it can also be pragmatic, reflecting the will and imperative to weave solidity into life and hold our selves together against trauma and assault.”


The Boston Black Theater Collective
The Boston Black Theater Collective (BBTC) began in 2008 when Barbara Lewis of the Trotter Institute at UMass Boston and Lisa Simmons of the Color of Film Collaborative considered the status of the seven-to-ten black theaters in Boston. A few have histories going back decades and others are newcomers; all are struggling. Bringing these companies together to create a season, with each contributing a play to the whole is the goal, starting with staged readings. "We are working to build awareness for black theater, approaching it not only as expressive cultural history but also as education for a public often unable to see beyond its knees, as Kirsten Greenidge pointed out in the Globe recently. Theater is political. It is consolidated voice and representation," said Barbara Lewis, who staged The Amen Corner by James Baldwin in June 2012 and is linking to national theater initiatives that value black theater as a community resource and asset.

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