Artists Space

Black Picture Show

June 13, 2021, 8pm

Written by Bill Gunn
Directed by Awoye Timpo

Presented in collaboration with Bell Pattern Productions, F.A.M. Creative and CLASSIX

Black Picture Show

Q&A with Nicholas Forster and Oz Scott, moderated by Awoye Timpo.

Two people sit at a table while a third person places a plate of food in front of them.
Production still from Black Picture Show, 1978. Photo: Marshall Johnson. Image courtesy of the artist. [Two people sit at a table while a third person places a plate of food in front of them.]

Artists Space presents a virtual exploration of Bill Gunn's classic play Black Picture Show (1975). In preparation for this staged reading, Timpo brought together a company of actors to read, think, and talk through this pivotal theatrical work which was then filmed throughout Artists Space. Black Picture Show is a son’s elegy for his father, a poetic and tragic work about a promising Black poet-playwright who compromises his intellectual integrity for the financial rewards and glamour of Hollywood.

Following the premiere of the play, Nicholas Forster and Oz Scott will join Awoye Timpo for a Q&A.

Cast and Creative Team
JD/Alexander: André Holland
JD/Alexander: Jason Bowen
Norman: Korey Jackson
Lily/Rita: Brittany Bradford
Philippe: Lee Aaron Rosen
Jane: Leslie Fray
Stage Directions: Jasmin Walker

Director: Awoye Timpo
Production Designer: Jason Ardizzone-West
Director of Photography: Omega Davis
Costume Designer: Qween Jean
Composer: Alphonso Horne
Dramaturg: Arminda Thomas and Nicholas Forster

Awoye Timpo’s work has been seen on stages around the United States as well as in Scotland and South Africa. Timpo’s Off-Broadway directing credits include In Old Age at New York Theatre Workshop, Good Grief at The Vineyard Theatre, The Revolving Cycles Truly and Steadily Roll’d at The Playwrights Realm, and The Homecoming Queen at Atlantic Theater Company. Regionally, Timpo has directed Pipeline at the Studio Theatre, Everybody Black at Actors Theatre of Louisville and Paradise Blue at Long Wharf Theatre. Additional credits include Carnaval at the National Black Theatre, Sister Son/ji at the Billie Holiday Theatre, The Vanished (site-specific), Skeleton Crew at Chester Theatre Company, and Ndebele Funeral at 59E59 Theaters, Edinburgh Festival/Summerhall, and the South African tour. Timpo is the Founding Producer of CLASSIX, a collective created to expand the classical canon through an exploration of dramatic works by Black writers.

Bell Pattern Productions

F.A.M. Creative
It is a simple idea, with huge implications. To be the change we seek, is not simply talking the talk, but more importantly walking the walk. It means putting the work in, overcoming the inevitable obstacles, and summoning the courage to keep going way past the point when many people would have given up because that change is worth it.

For too long, stories centered around marginalized people such as people of color, women, queer people, immigrants, and poor people, to name some, have had a hard time finding ample opportunities to be developed, seen through to completion, and united with the audiences that should reap the rewards. Instead of dwelling on the problem, at F.A.M. Creative we are more excited about focusing our energies on the solution.

Inclusion… a voice… a seat… a shot… a new way. These are the things that F.A.M. Creative is providing for under represented voices in our communities to create new stories and new experiences. F.A.M. is dedicated to bringing together a diverse group of artists and artisans to foster innovation in how we tell these stories, and how we share in the experience. Welcome to the F.A.M.! All are welcome here.

CLASSIX was created by theatre director Awoye Timpo to expand the classical canon through an exploration of dramatic works by Black writers. We define these classic works as plays by authors of African descent from around the world that speak profoundly to the times in which they were written and resonate deeply with our own. CLASSIX engages artists, historians, students, professors, producers and audiences to launch these plays into the public imagination and spark productions worldwide.

CLASSIX began in 2017 as a series of staged readings in collaboration with the Martin E. Segal Center. In 2019, CLASSIX worked with Theatre for a New Audience (TFANA) to produce an ongoing series of readings. The first play in this series, Alice Childress’s Wedding Band, was produced in February 2020.

CLASSIX engages the larger narrative of these plays through conversations with historians and theatre makers on its podcast series, social media platforms, and in live events; educational outreach; new writings and analysis; and an archive of information on its website.

Program support for Artists Space is provided by The Friends of Artists Space, Lambent Foundation Fund of Tides Foundation, The Cowles Charitable Trust, The Cy Twombly Foundation, The David Teiger Foundation, The Helen Frankenthaler Foundation, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, The New York Community Trust, The New York City Department of Cultural Affairs, The New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Stavros Niarchos Foundation, The Willem de Kooning Foundation, The Danielson Foundation, The Fox Aarons Foundation, Herman Goldman Foundation, The Destina Foundation, The Luce Foundation, May and Samuel Rudin Family Foundation, The Milton and Sally Avery Arts Foundation, VIA Art Fund, Arison Arts Foundation, The Chicago Community Fund, The David Rockefeller Fund, The Jacques and Natasha Gelman Foundation, The Jill and Peter Kraus Foundation, The Richard Pousette-Dart Foundation.