Empowering African American Actors into Classical Roles
"We know what we are, but know not what we may be."
This poignant line from Shakespeare's Hamlet perfectly captures the inner desires of this group of actors, directors, designers, playwrights, and technicians, mostly from Harlem, who are reaching for their dreams of being a part of the production of classical and contemporary works.
The place where these dreams are coming true is The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH), a special place in the community that is nurturing a love of the classics for both those who perform them as well as those who just enjoy them. CTH proudly provides theatre-based training and live theatre experiences to Harlem youth and their families through its arts education program: Project Classics.
Another appealing aspect of this well respected company is that the performances are free. Carl Cofield, Director of the recent production of Antigone, loves how this approach brings people together. "All you have to do is show up", he commented. "Bring your best self and sit with people in your community and partake in a story."
As a company that draws much of its talent from the local area, Ty Jones, the Producing Artistic Director, notes how this creates a special connection with its audience. "The community can see itself reflected, onstage."
Since its founding in 1999 at the Harlem School for the Arts, CTH has presented a repertory of works ranging from traditional classical playwrights (Anton Chekhov, Euripides, and William Shakespeare), to established 20th century playwrights (August Wilson, Langston Hughes, and Jean Genet), to new plays by emerging playwrights.
In addition to its productions, CTH also engages in robust, theatre-related programming, which include Future Classics, Playwrights' Playground, and Revisited Classics. These free reading series act as a way to engage new audiences, invest in the artistic development of new work, and give exposure to emerging professional playwrights.
"Fierce. Bold. Relevant." is CTH's credo, and it speaks to how they are impacting the lives of those in their company as well as their community.
To learn more, visit them at: https://www.cthnyc.org/
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