11th Annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival underway

The cast of "Devon Intervention" (l-r): Josh Molden, Shante King, Robert Vickers, Velithia Pendergrass photo: Shawn Whitsell

The cast of “Devon Intervention” (l-r): Josh Molden Shante King, Robert Vickers, Velithia Pendergrass (photo: Shawn Whitsell)

The 11th annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival is off and running at the Darkhorse Theater through October 1st. The theme for this year is “Black Theatre Matters.” In addition to full-length shows, the festival also features the Emerging Playwrights Reading, theatre workshops, a short film showcase, a comedy show and other special events.

The purpose of the Shades of Black Theatre Festival is to provide an outlet for showcasing African American-themed theatre in the Nashville area. The festival also serves as a platform for actors, directors, producers, writers, and theatre enthusiasts to learn, network and enjoy quality theatre.

“The members of the Shades of Black planning committee are excited for this year and we feel extremely fortunate to have been around this long,” says Shawn Whitsell. “Every year we strive to bring some of our signature events that attendees have come to love, while also adding something new.”

The Festival is produced anually rough a collaborative effort by Dream 7 Theatre Productions, the Destiny Theatre Experience and SistaStyle Productions (which will host but will not be presenting a production this year).

“It’s an election year and there’s a lot of conversation and action happening around race, identity, injustice and so forth,” Whitsell says. “As always, some of the plays we’re presenting this year will definitely speak to some of those issues. We’re happy to add our small voice to these national conversations, while at the same time celebrating the arts.”

Yellowman, written by Dael OrlanderSmith, directed by Kurt Jarvis; starring Nina Webster and Eric Williams (Destiny Theatre Experience) runs Friday, September 16th; Thursday, September 22nd; and Saturday, October 1st (7:30 pm) — “Yellowman” is a multi-character memory play about an African-American woman who dreams of life beyond the confines of her small town Southern upbringing and the light-skinned man whose fate is tragically intertwined with hers. The play explores the negative associations surrounding male blackness as well as the effect these racial stereotypes have on black women.

If I Could Come Back From The Other Side, written and directed Joyce Holland (Dream 7 Productions) runs Saturday, September 17th & Friday, September 23rd (7:30 pm) — Big Dave was a big time Gangbanger deep in the heart of South Central L.A. .. so big that he was a crime spree on his own. That is, until he got shot. Join Big Dave on his journey from this life to a hell that turns out to be much worse than the hell he gave all he harmed while alive.

Devon Intervention, written and directed by Robert Vickers (Vicktory Entertainment) runs Sunday, September 25 at 4:00 pm A guy down on his luck has a spiritual encounter that will change the course of his life forever.

All Shades of Black events will be held at the Darkhorse Theater, 4610 Charlotte Ave., Nashville, TN 37209. Ticket prices vary. Full event information can be found on the websites www.darkhorsetheater.com and Facebook.com/shadestheatrefest

Other 11th Annual Shades of Black Theatre Festival Highlights are Saturday, September 17 at 11 am – Business of Acting Workshop; Saturday, September 24 at 10 pm – Dashikis & Daiquiris (Hosted by Shawn Whitsell, Donations Accepted); Monday, September 26 and Tuesday, September 27 at 7:30 pm – Emerging Playwrights Short Play Showcase; and Saturday, October 1 at 11 pm – Late Night Comedy Show hosted by Renard Hirsch.