‘Steal Away’ opens Black Theatre Troupe’s season

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Black Theatre Troupe’s opening show of the season, “Steal Away,” is a comedy. It is a bit of a reflection on the recent Supreme Court decision eliminating affirmative action for colleges.

Walter Belcher, stage director of “Steal Away,” and David Hemphill, Executive Director of the Black Theatre Troupe joined Arizona Horizon to discuss it.

“It’s very important to open with a bang, so we always try to get a show that is not only entertaining but has a message to it,” Hemphill said.

“Steal Away” is a folk tale set in Chicago during the Depression. The show is about five upstanding church ladies who raise funds to send young Black women to college by holding bake sales and other fundraisers. When they are turned down at the bank for a loan to send a young woman to college, because the White bank manager doesn’t think “colored girls” need an education, the ladies decide to join in a scheme to rob the bank!

Hemphill says he thinks the show addresses some current issues in terms of affirmative action.

“Steal Away is a perfect example, the plot line is a perfect example of why affirmative action was important,” Hemphill said.

This comedy features Amani Anacaona as “Tracyada,” Cynnita Agent as “Blu,” Shonda Royall as “Sutty,” Cherylandria Banks as “Stella,” Sylvia LaVonnté as “Jade,” and Lydia Corbin as “Red.”

“Steal Away” is a play, so it is important for the cast and crew to deliver an excellent performance to keep the audience engaged.

“When you have music on your side, music is an invitation for everybody to be included,” Belcher said. “With any straight play, specifically this one with comedy, the challenge is a little greater.”

“Steal Away” will be performed September 15 through October 1, 2023, at the Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center, 1333 E. Washington St., Phoenix, AZ 85034. 

The Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center is the company’s permanent home, a state-of-the-art facility located at Washington and 14th Streets in downtown Phoenix. It features a 150-seat theatre, rehearsal space, costume shop and administrative offices.

The Black Theatre Troupe’s main-stage productions and educational outreach programs serve Valley residents from seniors to young adults to children. 

Black Theatre Troupe is known as one of the longest, continuously operating Black theatre companies in the U.S. It has become one of Phoenix’s major cultural attractions, providing training, employment and performance opportunities for multi-ethnic and underserved artists for over 50 years. 

For more information or to buy tickets, visit www.blacktheatretroupe.org, or call the box office at 602-258-8128.

Here is a list of their upcoming shows:

  • STEAL AWAY
    September 15 – October 1
  • THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS
    October 27 – November 12
    at Tempe Center for the Arts
  • BLACK NATIVITY
    December 8 – 17
  • THE PIANO LESSON
    February 2 – 18, 2024
  • STORYVILLE
    March 22 – April 7, 2024

Walter Belcher, Stage Director, "Steal Away;" David Hemphill, Executive Director, Black Theatre Troupe

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