This season, Harlem Stage will celebrate the centennial legacy of the Harlem Renaissance and offer a yearlong initiative focusing on Sun Ra and Afrofuturism. Through these two powerful themes, which will carry into the 2020 season, Harlem Stage will reflect on and celebrate the past, present and artistic future of Harlem and explore how the Harlem Renaissance continues to be a rich source of inspiration across the globe while Afrofuturism continues to push the boundaries of our artistic imagination.
The Cosmic Synthesis of Sun Ra and Afrofuturism Series:
Order Out of Chaos, Friday, September 20, 7:30pm, Price: $15
Afrofuturism is not only fiction, it is not only science, it is a future created in the mind, projected and seen through the lens of the African diaspora, it is part Science Fiction and Fact – it is Sun Ra.
Sun Ra, the visitor from Saturn; the original musical genius and Afrofuturism proponent whose groundbreaking experimentation and quest to discover the cosmic, spiritual language of music continues to inspire. Harlem Stage launches The Cosmic Synthesis of Sun Ra and Afrofuturism series with ‘Order Out Of Chaos’ a night of Afro Futuristic films, Music and a ‘Mind Share’; a panel of filmmakers, music artists and performances.
Afrofuturism is a doorway to vibrant representations of Blackness. For filmmakers looking to throw off the shackles of stereotypes, projected racialism and obsolete limitations, afrofuturist films are the golden ticket to reimagining Black identity. Join Harlem Stage for the screenings of two short films, Prototype by Christopher Ortega and ROXË15 by Celia C. Peters. Prototype features a programmer who conducts a painful empathy test on lifelike androids in an attempt to win her mother’s approval. ROXË15 features Roxë Jones, a virtual reality programmer in stark near-future NYC. Hell-bent on a getting to a better life, she bets her future on technology. Films are curated by filmmakers Craig T. Williams and Celia C. Peters who will lead a post screening conversation that will examine and celebrate the genre that is flipping the script on Black narratives.
The evening culminates in an epic performance featuring rock goddess and futurist, Nona Hendryx and Afrofuturism musician and actor, musician, Afrofuturist, content creator, Darian Dauchan of The Brobot Johnson Experience. *Nona Hendryx and Theaster Gates in Tribute to Grace Jones on Friday, October 11, 7:30pm, Price: $25 ~ Presented in partnership with Park Avenue Armory. Nona Hendryx joins Theaster Gates, and other special guests, for a magnificent tribute to Grace Jones to kick off Gates’ Black Artist Retreat 2019 at the Park Avenue Armory. *Concert takes place at the Park Avenue Armory.
Sisters, Sounds and Science of Afrofuturism, Friday, December 13, 7:30pm, Price: $25 ~ Camae Ayewa aka Moor Mother and Rasheedah Phillips aka Black Quantum Futurist will weave quantum physics, afrofuturism, and Afrodiasporic concepts of time, ritual, text, and sound that present innovative thoughts and music; a vehicle for current matters and tools for practical ways to escape negative temporal loops, oppression vortexes, and the digital matrix. Nona Hendryx aka ‘Cyboracle’ will host a conversation with Black Quantum Futurist, Moor Mother and perform with Mi.mu Gloves and other wearable music controllers.
Dive Deeper: Global Impact of Hip Hop culture and music, Thursday, October 17, 7:30pm, Price: $10 ~ Using her platform as a US Global Hip Hop Ambassador to disrupt, instigate and inspire, Maimouna Youssef aka MuMu Fresh, kicks off her 2nd year residency in conversation sharing the impact of her music and culture globally. Her lyrics land as a rallying cry and a prayer. She has blessed the mic across the globe with dynamic lyricism, powerhouse vocals and messages of liberation.
As Harlem Stage’s WaterWorks commissioned artist, Jason Timbuktu ‘Diakité prepares for the debut of his autobiographical musical, “A Drop of Midnight” which premieres in spring 2020, he will share his creative process on becoming one of Sweden’s chart topping hip hop artists to writing a best-selling novel to creating a theater piece and how a mix tape from Brooklyn traveled across the waters to the tiny village of Lund, Sweden and altered the course of his life forever.
This conversation between MuMu Fresh and Jason ‘Timbuktu’ Diakité dives deep into the alchemical power of hip hop culture and music to move the crowd and transform lives. And who knows what else might erupt when you get two fiercely talented MCs in one room.
Uptown Nights: Maimouna Youssef aka MuMu Fresh, Friday, October 18, 7:30pm, Price: $25 ~ Baltimore native Maimouna Youssef is of Choctaw, African American, and Muslim heritage and was born into a family of exceptional artists deeply rooted in healing, spirituality and activism. She began singing traditional indigenous and African songs at four years old and began her music career at 16 years old. Throughout this evening you will be immersed in sounds of A Capella and musical elements to honor her ancestors. This healing concert will be a musical journey amplifying the soulful soundscapes reflecting the experiences that make up the richness of Maimouna’s heritage.
This concert will consist of a range of instruments including drums, keys bass, guitar, gong, native flute, violins, Australian digeridoo, crystal bowls, percussion/djembe, congas, and other dancers and voices. The performance will tell the story of creation, and will create a soothing and healing experience with vocal keys that correspond to chakras, color therapy through lighting, and sacred geometrical visual imagery.
Uptown Nights: Maimouna Youssef aka MuMu Fresh, Saturday, October 19, 7:30pm, Price: $25 ~ GRAMMY nominated singer, songwriter, activist, healer and educator, Maimouna Youssef also known as MuMu Freshreturns to Harlem Stage for her 2nd residency! Known for captivating audiences with what has been described as a “unique” and “spiritual” transformative live concert experience with her band, this powerhouse lyricists and MC performs material from her recently recorded album, produced by DJ Jazzy Jeff and The PLAYlist titled, “The Healing.”
Double Lens: Harlem Doc Festival, Friday, November 15, 7:30pm, Price: $10 ~ Presented in association with The Documentary Forum at The City College of New York, Maysles Documentary Center, New York Latino Film Festival and Third World Newsreel.
The first annual Harlem Doc Fest explores the cultural richness and history of Harlem along with critical issues impacting the community. This weekend-long curated festival of feature and short documentary films will present screenings throughout Harlem and include conversations with filmmakers, actors and scholars. Harlem Stage is proud to host the opening of this dynamic new festival with a screening, conversation and reception. The film selection is forthcoming.
THE RENAISSANCE EP: A THEATRICAL MIXTAPE, Thursday, November 21 & Friday November 22, 7:30pm, Price $15 ~ In this year-long live radio play series created by Harlem Stage’s Director of Programming Monique Martin and curated by playwright/actor NSangou Njikam, we explore the impact and resonance of the Harlem Renaissance after 100 years. Using influences of artists from the Renaissance, as well as one of the four elements of Hip Hop, each radio play will explore the past, present, and possible future of Harlem and how the Renaissance continues to be a rich source of inspiration across the globe and in every corner of this historic New York community. Combining music, theatre and imaginative foley i.e. beatboxer, The Renaissance EP takes you on an anthropological excavation through time and space to explore the power and legacy of a neighborhood that has been described as the epicenter of Black culture and the radical Black imagination. Think “A Prairie Home Companion” flipped upside down into a juke joint with writers Nella Larsen and Langston Hughes in a cypher with a numbers runner, jazz musician Earl ‘Fatha’ Hines and radio and television sitcom characters, Amos and Andy.
Track I ~ The Return, Written by Nsangou Njikam, Directed by Adesola Osakalumi, With Celestine Rae, Joseph Webb and Nsangou Njikam
A young couple goes to the Apollo Theater, hoping to connect with the Spirit of The Renaissance, thinking it will bring back an energy that’s all but lost. Their plan is to appease and seek the help of Sandman, whose Spirit guards the secrets of the original Renaissance. Before long, they are on a journey that connects them with the beauty and harsh realities of the neighborhood they love. Can they truly bring back a “New Renaissance”? Or, is Harlem doomed to lose its famed history forever?
Joseph Webb performs a short set celebrating the hoofers of the Renaissance. After visiting a poetry reading at the Langston House a young griot in training becomes inspired by the legends of the Harlem Renaissance era. Oscillating between the New Negro Movement and modern times-through swing and hip-hop this visit drives his ambition to tell the history of yesterday with the younger generations of today. This piece encompasses tap, dance, piano, song and poetry/emceeing.
Carnegie Hall Citywide: The Baylor Project, Thursday, December 5, 7:30pm, Price: FREE (with reservation), Uptown Nights ~ When The Baylor Project performs, you’ll see why the husband-and-wife team of vocalist Jean Baylor and drummer Marcus Baylor has been nominated for two Grammy Awards. Deeply rooted in jazz—Jean has performed with such stars as Marcus Miller and Buster Williams, while Marcus is a former member of the legendary Yellowjackets—their eclectic musical style is also steeped in gospel, blues, and soul. Whether it’s a soulful ballad or an up-tempo classic, The Baylor Project will uplift you.
Check your Invite! A Renaissance Rent Party Remix
Saturday, December 7, 7:30pm, Price: $15 ~ Beloved Harlem Renaissance writer Langston Hughes was constantly invited to both bid whist (an extremely popular social card game) and rent parties. He saved hundreds of invitations from his arrival in Harlem in the early 1920’s through the early 1960’s! These parties were held primarily in Harlem apartments to raise rent money, socialize with both new neighbors and those from “back home”, play card games, dance, also known as, “cut a rug” and enjoy down home cooking and libations away from the post-reconstruction oppression.
Actor/Playwright/Storyteller Daniel Carlton creates a world from archival historical invitations to dramatize Harlem’s history from the 1920’s – 1960’s using the settings of the various parties. We invite you to come experience an ever changing Harlem as we wait for Langston Hughes to arrive. From returning soldiers to Garveyites to Socialites, church ladies, deacons and politicos Harlem has been referred to as the epicenter of Black Culture during the 1900’s to the 20th Century— the Harlem Renaissance took place during a time of virulent racism and rich artistic expression. Who were the hosts and the guests of these infamous rent parties? Come meet some of the colorful characters imagined and historical.
The evening concludes with a dance party featuring Harlem’s DJ Ness Digital spinning classic jazz and soul from bebop to hip hop, soul and funk. Come cut a rug!
Uptown Nights: Brianna Thomas and Fa-La-La-La Funk! Thursday, December 19, 7:30pm, Price: $25 ~ Brianna Thomas and her band Fa-La-La-La Funk! will bring the funk to classic holiday tunes we know and love with her blend of jazz, R&B, and gospel. The concert will be peppered with songs from Brianna’s eagerly anticipated sophomore album “Everybody Knows.” Joining her on this holiday romp are Connun Pappas on piano, Ryan Berg on bass, EJ Strickland on drums, Marvin Sewell on guitar, and Fernando Saci on percussion.
Check out the entire 2019 Season at Harlem Stage,, located at 150 Convent Avenue, NYC.