Shades of Black Theatre Festival continues

Cast of The Meeting: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pictured (l to r): Michael ‘Diallo’ McLendon, Willie Robbins III, and Kenny Dozier.

Cast of The Meeting: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. pictured (l to r): Michael ‘Diallo’ McLendon, Willie Robbins III, and Kenny Dozier.

The Shades of Black Theatre Festival continues through the month of September at the Darkhorse Theatre, 4610 Charlotte Ave. On tap for this week are the following productions:

Songs for Our Sons, written and directed by Shawn Whitsell (artistic director of the Destiny Theatre Experience), focuses on a group of fathers mourning the loss of their sons to gun violence at the hands of police and other young Black men. They lean on each other, fight for justice and work to bring about change in their communities. The play opens Fri., Sept. 12. (See schedule below.)

Do Over, written and directed by Mary McCallum, is presented by Sista Style Productions. It focuses on a woman pondering her 20-year reunion—wondering if she chose the right guy for her senior prom. When she wakes to find herself back at the prom, will she make the right decisions given her opportunity to do it all over? The show opens Sat., Sept. 13. (See schedule below.)

The Destiny Theatre Experience presents A Poem For Broken Boys, written by Terrance ‘Cirvant’ French and directed by Shawn Whitsell. The play focuses on men whose lives are scared from their past—scars that never healed. It explores the impact silence has brought into their lives. ‘Church,’ the leader of the bunch, is a zealous ‘Reverend’ loved by all—but behind his faith lies a past he avoids.

‘Dance’ is an effeminate man who uses his artistry to escape his childhood reality. ‘Comedy’ avoids attacks by using humor to shield the secret he holds. ‘Music’ is a suave ladies’ man whose charm often leaves him captive. ‘Poet’ is a writer and thinker with a quest to write a poem for the ‘least of these.’ In what was to be a routine men’s meeting, these young men expose their wounds revealing the truth: They were all once ‘broken boys’ with wounds from their childhood. The play opens Mon., Sept. 15.

The Meeting: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. opens Tues., Sept. 16, continuing intermittently with other plays at the Festival through Sept. 21. It is produced by the Kennie Playhouse Theatre.

The Meeting… (by Jeff Stetson) is an eloquent and dramatically compelling play depicting the supposed ‘meeting’ of two of the most important men of modern times: Malcolm X and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Differing in their philosophies, but alike in their mutual respect, the two men debate their varying approaches to the same grave social problems, both prepared to die for their beliefs—but neither are aware of how soon their assassins’ bullets would await them.

The story takes place in a suite high up in a Harlem hotel room where Malcolm X and his bodyguard Rashad are resting before Malcolm X’s fateful speech at the Audubon Ballroom. Malcolm X has requested a secret meeting with Dr. King who is also in New York.

Cautious at first, the two quickly fall into a spirited debate about their different approaches to improving the lot of Blacks in a predominantly White society. Dr. King (the lamb) is hoping to find racial harmony through ‘love and peaceful resistance,’ while Malcolm X (the lion) is reconciled to violence and revenge if Blacks are to win out over oppression.

The Meeting… received a Louis B. Mayer Award, eight NAACP Theatre Awards, and six New York AUDELCO nominations.

The iconic Chuck Smith of the famed Goodman Theatre in Chicago directs. Shows times are Tuesday, Sept. 16 at 7:30 pm; Sat. Sept. 20 at 7:30 pm; and Sun. Sept. 21 at 3 pm. All tickets only $10. Tickets may be reserved in advance or purchased at the door. For information, call 615-730-0581 or visit .

Chuck Smith is the Goodman Theatre’s ‘resident director’ and an associate producer of Legacy Productions, a Chicago-based touring company. He recently received the 2012 Goodman Theatre’s August Wilson Award and the 2011 Lloyd Richards Directing Award for his production of Knock Me a Kiss at the National Black Theatre Festival. Smith’s Goodman credits include the Chicago premieres of Pullman Porter Blues; By the Way Meet Vera Stark; Race; The Good Negro; Proof; The Story; By the Music of the Spheres; The Gift Horse; Lorraine Hansberry’s A Raisin in the Sun; Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky; August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom; and the Fats Waller musical Ain’t Misbehavin.’

Shades of Black Theatre Festival schedule:
• Fri., Sept. 12 — Songs For Our Sons, written and directed by Shawn Whitsell (Destiny Theatre Experience), 7:30 pm

• Sat., Sept. 13 — Do Over, 7:30 pm; Late Night Poetry Jam, hosted by Jene India, 11 pm

• Sun., Sept. 14 — Songs For Our Sons, 3 pm

• Mon., Sept. 15 — A Poem For Broken Boys, written by Terrance ‘Cirvant’ French and directed by Shawn Whitsell (Destiny Theatre Experience)

• Tues., Sept. 16 – The Meeting, written by Jeff Stetson and directed by Chuck Smith, 7:30 pm (Kennie Playhouse Theatre)

• Wed., Sept. 17 — A Poem For Broken Boys (Destiny Theatre Experience), 7:30 pm.

• Thurs., Sept. 18 — Songs For Our Sons (Destiny Theatre Experience), 7:30 pm