The Black Theatre Troupe is celebrating its 50th anniversary of highlighting multi-ethnic and under-served artists by resuming performances for the upcoming season. Horzonte’s Jose Cardenas learned more from David Hemphill, the Black Theatre Troupe’s Executive Director.
The group returns to the stage for the first time since February 2020. When the COVID-19 Pandemic struck, the Black Theatre Troupe had been planning for more than two years for their milestone season.
Through the course of the pandemic, the Black Theatre Troupe did just one virtual performance last Christmas season. They had to spend the majority of the pandemic raising money to keep the company afloat.
“We were fortunate enough to have a sponsor that was generous enough to see that we were able to hold on to designers and keep those who make their living working with us,” Hemphill said. “That was the important thing which was keeping them on track due to the limited PPP available to us.”
Hemphill says that most of the talent is local and had day jobs to also help keep them afloat.
With a projected return to the stage for in-person performances in mid-September, the surge in COVID cases due to the delta variant has Hemphill worried.
“We’re very concerned but we are proceeding ahead as if everything will be okay,” Hemphill said. “We’re just hopeful that this surge is not bad enough to where we have to close down.”
Their first show back is set to open Sept. 10 performing “Sistas the Musical.” The musical is a celebration of African American women told through music. The Black Theatre Troupe was one of the few companies in the country to get a license to perform an active running broadway show. Hemphil described it as a “jukebox musical.”
Hemphill said that the show was already paid for prior to the pandemic. Rehearsals for the show were set to begin just four days after the shutdown in March 2020. In the event the show has to be moved again, the expense of it is not a worry.
The first show runs from Sept. 10-26.