Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College
Announces 2019 National Black Writers Conference Biennial
Symposium: Saturday, March 23, 2019, Brooklyn, NY
2019 Symposium, “Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads,”
Will Pay Tribute to the Late Award-Winning Poet
and Playwright Ntozake Shange
Brooklyn, New York — The Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College, CUNY, announces open registration for the 2019 National Black Writers Conference—the nation’s premier gathering of students, writers, authors, scholars, and literary icons on the topic of Black literature. The event will take place at Medgar Evers College, CUNY (located at 1650 Bedford Ave., between Crown and Montgomery Streets, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn) on Saturday, March 23, 2019 from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm. The one-day symposium offers a series of panel discussions, a public town hall, dramatic readings, a bookstore, and special performances for anyone interested in attending. Registration is open online at www.centerforblackliterature.org and will also be available on-site at the college.
This year’s theme, “Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads,” is in response to the growing number of award-winning film and theater works produced in the U.S. by Black writers; the symposium will continue the discussions around “Race, Healing, and Activism in Black Literature” and broaden its focus to spotlight, for the first time ever, playwrights and screenwriters. It will also pay special tribute to Obie Award-winning renowned poet, playwright, and novelist Ntozake Shange, who transitioned in 2018. Ifa Bayeza, playwright, producer, novelist, and sister of Shange, will serve as the keynote speaker. See program schedule below for other guest speakers and highlights.
From August Wilson to Ntozake Shange; George C. Wolfe to Dominique Morisseau; from F. Gary Gray to Ava DuVernay, contemporary Black playwrights and screenwriters are making huge strides in theater and film. Additionally, writers such as Amiri Baraka, Langston Hughes, Rosa Guy, Ntozake Shange, and Alice Walker have had their works published in print and presented on stage.
Dr. Brenda Greene, the Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature, reflects on the goal of the Symposium. “We are at a crossroads and as the number of plays and films by Black writers expand, we want to explore the nature of the plays and films being produced. Are Black playwrights and screenwriters writing for Black, white or mixed audiences? What is the nature of the subject matter and themes promoted by producers and directors of Black plays and films? Are Black playwrights and screenwriters more focused on entertainment than on the complexity of the Black experience in America?” What is the future for Black playwrights and screenwriters?
For more information and the full program, interested participants may visit the 2019 National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium website at www.centerforblackliterature.org.
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The mission of the Center for Black Literature is to expand, broaden and enrich the public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature. For more information about The Center for Black Literature organization, events and programs, visit www.centerforblackliterature.org. Find the Center for Black Literature on FB: /Center for Black Literature; IG: @Center4BlackLit.; and Twitter: @Center4BlackLit
National Black Writers Conference Biennial Symposium
“Playwrights and Screenwriters at the Crossroads”
Saturday, March 23, 2019
(program subject to change)
Keynote Speaker: Ifa Bayeza; 11:15 AM – 12:15 PM
A keynote address on the legacy of Ntozake Shange, a powerful literary force who carried forth the legacy of the Black Arts Movement in America. The keynote address will examine the ways in which Shange’s work and legacy have shaped and influenced contemporary Black playwrights and screenwriters. Shange was well known for her choreopoem for colored girls who have considered suicide when the rainbow is enuf.
Town Hall Forum: The Evolution of Blacks in Film and Theater; 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
MODERATOR: April R. Silver
CONFIRMED SPEAKERS: Lisa Cortés, producer and director; Kamilah Forbes, Executive Director, Apollo Theater; and Attika J. Torrence, filmmaker and producer.
Break: 1:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Roundtable Discussion I: “Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Contemporary Plays by Black Writers: From the Page to the Stage and Screen”; 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM
Confirmed Panelists: Ladee Hubbard, Gloria J. Browne-Marshall
Memorable novels, short stories, and biographies have been a source of inspiration for many works adapted for theatrical presentation. The writers on this panel will discuss the processes involved in getting the published written word from one medium to the other.
Roundtable Discussion II: “The Impact of Race, Politics, and Popular Culture on Contemporary Black Playwrights and Screenwriters”; 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM
Confirmed Panelists: Keith Josef Adkins, Amina Henry, Aurin Squire
A recent New York Times article “Magical Racial Justice” talks about the ways social issues are addressed in contemporary films. This panel will discuss ways in which racial politics, society injustices, and socioeconomic challenges influence character, plot, and viewpoint in works playwrights and screenwriters create to produce authentic stories about overcoming family struggles, raising awareness of racial injustices, self-identity, values, and Black pride as they portray the varied Black experiences in America.
Dramatic Readings: 5:30 PM – 6:30 PM
Host: Marlon Rice; artists: Tracie Morris, Shaun Neblett
Major support for the 2019 NBWC Biennial Symposium is provided by AKILA WORKSONGS Inc.; BK Reader; Con Edison; New York City Council Member Inez Barron; New York City Council Member Laurie A. Cumbo; New-York Historical Society; IRADAC (Institute for Research on the African Diaspora in the Americas & the Caribbean); AFCP, Africana Studies Certificate Program; Poets & Writers; Green Earth Poets Cafe & Green Earth Poetry Theater; and Pens Of Power.
THE MISSION OF THE CENTER FOR BLACK LITERATURE
The mission of the Center for Black Literature is to expand, broaden and enrich the public’s knowledge and aesthetic appreciation of the value of Black literature. Through a series of programs that build an audience for the reading, discussion and critical analysis of contemporary Black literature and that serve as a forum for the research and study of Black literature, the Center convenes and supports various literary programs and events such as author readings and book signings, writing workshops, panel discussions, conferences and symposia. It is the only center devoted to this in the country. For more information, call the Center at 718-804-8883 or visit our website at www.centerforblackliterature.org.