Who: Sharon Lawrence, Yvette Cason, Devere Rogers, Galen J. Williams, Jason “Freckle” Green, Eugene Byrd, T. C. Carson, Larry Powell
What: Premiere of new digital series
Where: Facebook, YouTube, Twitch
When: Thursdays, July 30 - August 27, free with RSVP, 10:00
Why: Many theater festivals are going virtual these days because of the pandemic lockdown, and joining the parade is the Evergreen Festival, albeit this one is an all-new, fictional work of metatheater itself, created by actor and playwright Larry Powell. The five-week series follows the life and career of openly queer Black actor Jerome Price over the course of fifty years, beginning with “…NO HOMO.” On its GoFundMe page, Powell explains, “In between protests, self-care, virtual funerals, and starting a full-on performing arts academy all in the span of a couple of months . . . in partnership with Angelica Robinson’s Tell Me a Story Productions and with a small army of multicultural artists and activists, I made this piece of artivism. The Gaze is a cycle of plays that examines the process of building culturally specific and queer works of color in historically white spaces. It tackles hard topics like racism head-on. It wrestles with the question: Why strain to be free under a gaze fixed on your imprisonment when it’s you who is holding the key? Why stay? Go where?” The impressive cast features Yvette Cason, Devere Rogers, Galen J. Williams, Jason “Freckle” Green, Eugene Byrd, T. C. Carson, and Sharon Lawrence as Evergreen Theatre Festival interim artistic director Miranda Cryer; you can learn more about her and the festival in the below prologue as well as watch a tech rehearsal here.
Presented as the online gathering “Fire Circle: A Celebration of Black, LGBTQIA & BIPOC Lives” with DJs and postshow discussions with artists and activists, each episode can be seen for free on Facebook, YouTube, and Twitch from Thursday nights at 10:00 until the next Sunday at 11:59 pm. “Building this work has brought me through the poison of the past to the medicine of the present moment. This work puts the pain into the fire so that it may alchemize into power,” Powell recently posted on social media. “Theater is sacred ritual and it extends into all forms of media. It cannot be left behind. It is the foundation and basis of all forms. Find the theater in anything you do and there you will find the boundless strength and resilience of the human spirit.”