The National Black Theatre Celebrates 50th Anniversary All Year



Ariel Blackwood dances in 125th & FREEsom. Photo Credit: Garlia C. Jones. Image courtesy NBT

The National Black Theatre (NBT) has been celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019 with a series of performances throughout the city ~ all year long. Next up ~ June 22nd and June 29th

Ariel Blackwood, Alec Stephens III, Trevor Latez Hayes, and Ava McCoy perform at 125th Street Metro-North Plaza  (Uptown Grand Central) at Park Avenue at 125th Street). Photo Credit Garlia C. Jones. Image courtesy NBT

Earlier this year, NBT partnered with the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture with the presentation of “In Perpetual Flight: The Migration of the Black Body” as part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America ~ a citywide festival featuring events about the journeys of people who have shaped and included American culture.

(center) Audrey Hailes as “Libra” in 125th & FREEdom. Photo Credit: Garlia C. Jones. Image courtesy NBT

Continuing with a year of celebration, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre went on to present the world premiere of 125th & FREEdom on June 8th, exploring the question, “If Harriet Tubman were alive today, how would she free Black people?

125th & FREEdom answers that question with  a five-hour, immersive public performance dance piece that is part dance party, part parade, part protest and ritual performance, and all Harlem. Composed of sixteen movements and featuring a New Orleans-style brass band, the choreopoetic performance takes place at eleven sites as pop-up installations, and presents the public with an immersive, audio-partipatory cultural experience.

125th & FREEdom cast member approaches Harlem’s Harriet Tubman sculpture, June 8, 2019. Photo Credit: Garlia C. Jones. Image courtesy NBT

125th & FREEdom sees a victorious, but battle-weary tribe of nomads led by Tubman’s descendant on an epic journey to a land of promised liberation. Fusing song and poetry with choreography based on historic and current Black social dances, the one-of-a-kind event closes out The National Black Theatre’s milestone golden anniversary season.

The cast includes Audrey Hailes, Courtney Cook, Azusa “Sheshe” Dance, Alec Stephens III and Jason O’Neal. Paris Weeden, Ariel Blackwood, Ava McCoy, Everton Ricketts, Zenni Reach, and Trevor Latez Hayes are also featured.

Cast of 125th & FREEdom performs near the 125th Street Metro-North Plaza (Uptown Grand Central) on June 8, 2019. Photo Credit: Garlia C. Jones. Image courtesy NBT

The creative team includes Alphonso Horne (musical composition), Izmir Ickbal (scenic design), Dominique Fawn Hill (costumes), Belinda Hardin (props), jaime’ Dzandu (associate choreographer), Nina Angela Mercer (dramaturg) and Vir-Amicus and Kirrin Tubo (production managers).

Performances of 125th & FREEdom run from 1pm to 6pm, each Saturday through June 29th. Want to participate? wear comfortable shoes!

Check Here for all locations.