Monday, January 24, 2011

African American Production Based on Award Winning Children’s Book Premieres in Washington, DC Area

DC Area Theater Receives Grant to Diversify Audiences with First African American Play – Serving as Production Partner
Adventure Theatre, the longest-running children’s theatre in the Washington, D.C. area, along with the African Continuum Theatre and the Dance Institute of Washington presented the world premiere of Mirandy and Brother Wind on January 21, 2010 in Glen Echo, MD, based on the Caldecott Honor Book of the same title in celebration of Black History Month.

The new children’s musical also celebrates a series of firsts for Adventure Theatre including its first partnership with African Continuum Theatre, the only professional African American theatre company in Washington, D.C., and the first time the theatre has produced an African American show.

I have the pleasure of serving on the honorary host committee for this landmark production, and if you’re in the Washington, DC area, I hope you will attend and support this play! Parents, please bring your children! (Perfect for ages 4 and up). It is a delightful and high-spirited play that children and adults alike will thoroughly enjoy. I was impressed by the commitment of the theatre’s staff and board of directors to ensure diversity among its audiences, as this is the first all African American production in the theatre’s nearly 60 year history.

Rooted in the tradition of African American storytelling, Mirandy is the story of a young girl’s ambition to win a cakewalk competition by harnessing the power of Brother Wind. Michael Bobbitt, the play's producing artistic director who adapted the Mirandy and Brother Wind children’s book says, “In the ever growing genre of children’s theatre, there is a dearth of musicals about the African-American experience (fictional and non-fictional). Most African American children’s works are based on popular African and/or African-American folk tales, legends, myths or historical fact. Our goals with Mirandy are: To preserve/re-enliven highly ignored parts of American history and express the universality of experiences specific to the African-American culture through great theater.”

The theatre was awarded a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts for Mirandy and Brother Wind, and was among only 29 grantees in the United States for musical theatre as part of their new series to diversify audiences. The African American Adventures series will focus on producing 5 new children’s musicals over the next 5 seasons based on fictional African American children’s books. An upcoming production will adapt the children's book, The Snowy Day by Ezra Jack Keats, a book that broke the color barrier in mainstream children's book publishing.

Director Jennifer Nelson comments, “I am delighted to be part of bringing this new play to the stage. Mirandy and Brother Wind is an imaginative, life-affirming and positive journey through a moment in American history when community spirit made hard work bearable. We see this world through the eyes of a lively young girl with an irrepressibly joyous spirit. The music and dance will make you want to join in the celebration of life!”

Special Community Event: A free special community event will be held at the Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H Street, NE, Washington, DC on February 26th at 2:30 pm. The event will feature a cakewalk and dance demonstration (the main theme from the book), a lesson and mock-cake-walk competition, as well as a meet and greet with the book's author Patricia McKissack and illustrator Jerry Pinkney. Washington DC’s own Cake Love will also be part of the day with a special Mirandy and Brother Wind cake. I hope to see you there!

Mirandy and Brother Wind is now showing at Adventure Theatre in Glen Echo, MD until February 13, 2011. The production will then premiere in Washington, DC from February 25-March 13, 2011 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center. To purchase tickets, please visit HERE. For information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Janet Berry, 301-634-2262.

Honorary Host Committee for Mirandy and Brother WindCongressman Jesse L. Jackson, 2nd Congressional District of Illinois
Tracey Webb, Founder – Black Benefactors &
Henry Hailstock, President of the Montgomery County, MD Branch of the NAACP
Stephen Leach, Vice President, Government Relations and Community Outreach, Reading Is Fundamental
John J. Oliver Jr., Chairman of the Board/Publisher, The Afro-American Newspapers
Ayris. T. Scales, Interim Director, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities

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