Thursday, April 19, 2012


ON MONDAY, JUNE 18, 2012

“Black Theater in America is alive…it is vital…it just isn’t funded.”
August Wilson
April 19, 2012 (New York, NY) Today, PROJECT1VOICE, a newly established not-for-profit performing arts service organization founded by New York-based actor/producer Erich McMillan-McCall (Chicago, The Who’s Tommy) to preserve the legacy and tradition of African-American theatre and playwrights, announced the 2nd Annual: 1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY.

On Monday, June 18, 2012, twenty five African-American theatres across the country will engage in a national day of celebration of African-American theatre by producing benefit staged readings of The Amen Corner, the classic drama by James Baldwin, honoring the 25th year anniversary of his passing. The participating theatres are: African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX) African Continuum Theatre (Washington, DC) African American Repertory Theatre (DeSoto, TX), Alabama State University, (Montgomery, AL) American Performing Arts Collaborative (New York, NY), American Theater Project (New Orleans, LA),The Billie Holiday Theatre (Brooklyn, NY), Black Spectrum Theatre (New York, NY), Brown Box Theatre (Seattle, WA), Bushfire Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Congo Square Theatre (Chicago, IL), Crossroads Theatre Company (New Brunswick, NY), Dillard University (New Orleans, LA), Ebony Repertory Theatre (Los Angeles, CA), Ensemble Theatre (Houston, TX), Freedom Theatre (Philadelphia, PA), Howard University ( Washington, DC), Kuntu Repertory Theatre (Pittsburgh, PA), Lorraine Hansbury Theatre (San Francisco, CA), National Black Theatre (New York, NY), Negro Ensemble Company (New York, NY), New Federal Theatre (New York, NY), New Professional Theatre (New York, NY), Penumbra Theatre Company (Minneapolis/St Paul, MN), Rainey Institute (Cleveland, OH), The Richard Allen Center for Culture and Art (New York, NY), Uprooted (Milwaukee, WI), and Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (Sarasota, FL).

“This national day of celebration not only honors the late great playwright, James Baldwin's seminal work. It also seeks to highlight the African-American theatre companies who are struggling for their very existence,” PROJECT1VOICE Founder Erich McMillan-McCall said. “It is imperative that our community sparks renewed interest in the art, the artists and the organizations which nurture them. PROJECT1VOICE is proud to take on the challenge of trumpeting our artistic resources so that they can sustain themselves now and into the future.”

Project1VOICE is a not-for-profit, performing arts service organization, advocating on issues that specifically affect Black theater. We are dedicated to the preservation of Black theater--it's legacy and tradition--now and for future generations. Our mission is to support and cultivate artistic excellence, creativity and innovation among Black theaters, connecting people and communities to the arts with a continuum of experiences that reflect the virtuosity, creative and inclusive spirit of the arts.

Black theatres remain at the forefront of developing and sustaining African-American playwrights, directors, actors and other theater professionals. In 2010, McMillan-McCall became acutely aware that theatres across the country, especially historically African-American theatres, were struggling to stay afloat during the economic downturn. With this in mind, he partnered with other concerned individuals to bring attention and assistance to these mainstays of employment for theatre artists of color, and thus, PROJECT1VOICE was born.

Key members of the PROJECT1VOICE team areproducer/production manager Gwen Gilliam, award-winning playwright and director Charles Randolph-Wright, actor/producer Charles Reese (Teeth and Eyes Productions) and marketing consultant/producer Marcia Pendelton (Walk Tall Girl Productions).

“PROJECT1VOICE is shedding light on a universal problem by targeting a specific one...the plight of African American theaters.” McMillan-McCall said. “We want to have a longoverdue conversation about the loss of our creative voices with some long-term sustainable solutions to preserve their legacies.”

1 VOICE, 1 PLAY, 1 DAY readings of The Amen Corner will not only serve as fundraisers for the participating theaters, they will also act as community engagement events to further develop audiences, recruit volunteers, attract corporate and foundation funding, and seek in-kind goods and services.

Additional details about ticketing, directors, and casts for all readings will be announced at a later date.

For more information about PROJECT1VOICE, and to see interviews with theater luminaries such as prolific producer Woodie King, Jr., Tony-Award winner Adriane Lenox, and Pulitzer Prize-winner Lynn Nottage, visit

The Amen Corner is a three-act play by James Baldwin. It was Baldwin's first attempt at theater following "Go Tell It on the Mountain." It was first published in 1954, and inspired a short-lived 1983 Broadway musical adaptation with the slightly truncated title, Amen Corner.

The play addresses themes of the role of the church in the African-American family and the effect of a poverty born of racial prejudice on the African-American community.

The Amen Corner takes place in two settings: a ‘‘corner’’ church in Harlem and the apartment dwelling of Margaret Alexander, the church pastor, and of her son, David, and sister Odessa. After giving a fiery Sunday morning sermon, Margaret is confronted by the unexpected arrival of her long estranged husband, Luke, who collapses from illness shortly thereafter. Their son, David, along with several elders of the congregation, learn from Luke that, while Margaret had led everyone to believe that he had abandoned her with their son years ago, it was in fact Margaret who had left Luke in pursuit of a purely religious life. This information precipitates confrontations between Margaret and her son, her congregation, and her estranged husband, regarding what they see as the hypocritical nature of her religious convictions, which she uses to justify the breakup of her family.

After an important conversation with his dying father, David informs Margaret that he is leaving home to pursue his calling as a jazz musician. On his deathbed, Luke declares to Margaret that he has always loved her, and that she should not have left him. Finally, Margaret’s congregation decides to oust her, based on their perception that she unjustly ruined her own family in the name of religion. Only after losing her son, her husband, and her congregation, does Margaret finally realize that she should not have used religion as an excuse to escape the struggles of life and love, but that ‘‘To love the Lord is to love all His children—all of them, everyone!—and suffer with them and rejoice with them and never count the cost!’’

*The Amen Corner permission granted by Samuel French, Inc. 45 West 25th Street New York, NY 10010


James Baldwin (Playwright)

James Baldwin was born on August 2, 1924, and educated in New York. His first novel, "Go Tell It on the Mountain," appeared in 1953 to excellent reviews and immediately was recognized as establishing a profound and permanent new voice in American letters. "Mountain is the book I had to write if I was ever going to write anything else," he remarked. Baldwin's play The Amen Corner was first performed at Howard University in 1955 (it was staged commercially in the 1960s), and his acclaimed collection of essays "Notes of a Native Son," was published the same year. A second collection of essays, "Nobody Knows My Name," was published in 1961 between his novels "Giovanni's Room" (1956) and "Another Country" (1961).

The appearance of "The Fire Next Time" in 1963, just as the civil rights movement was exploding across the American South, galvanized the nation and continues to reverberate as perhaps the most prophetic and defining statement ever written of the continuing costs of Americans' refusal to face their own history. It became a national bestseller, and Baldwin was featured on the cover of Time magazine. Critic Irving Howe said that "The Fire Next Time" achieved "heights of passionate exhortation unmatched in modern American writing." In 1964 Blues for Mister Charlie, his play based on the murder of a young black man in Mississippi, was produced by the Actors Studio in New York. That same year, Baldwin was made a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters and collaborated with the photographer Richard Avedon on "Nothing Personal," a series of portraits of America intended as a eulogy for the slain Medger Evers. A collection of short stories, "Going to Meet the Man," was published in 1965, and in 1968, "Tell Me How Long the Train's Been Gone," his last novel of the 1960s appeared.

In the 1970s he wrote two more collections of essays and cultural criticism: "No Name in the Street" (1972) and "The Devil Finds Work" (1976). He produced two novels: the bestselling "If Beale Street Could Talk" (1974) and "Just Above My Head" (1979) and also a children's book "Little Man, Little Man: A Story of Childhood" (1976). He collaborated with Margaret Mead on "A Rap on Race" (1971) and with the poet-activist Nikki Giovanni on "A Dialogue" (1973). He also adapted Alex Haley's "The Autobiography of Malcolm X" into One Day When I Was Lost.

In the remaining years of his life, Baldwin produced a volume of poetry, "Jimmy's Blues" (1983), and a final collection of essays, "The Price of the Ticket." Baldwin's last work, "The Evidence of Things Not Seen" (1985), was prompted by a series of child murders in Atlanta. Baldwin was made a Commander of the French Legion of Honor in June 1986. Among the other awards he received are a Eugene F. Saxon Memorial Trust Award, a Rosenwald fellowship, a Guggenheim fellowship, a Partisan Review fellowship, and a Ford Foundation grant.

James Baldwin died at his home in Saint-Paul-de-Vence in France on December 1, 1987.

Erich McMillan-McCall (Founder, PROJECT1VOICE) A native of Birmingham, AL. Erich McMillan-McCall received a BFA from Birmingham-Southern College. His Broadway credits include The Who’s Tommy and Chicago. He was part of the national tours of Dreamgirls, Ragtime, Chicago, Sunset Boulevard, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and Dirty Dancin’. His television appearances include roles on“30 Rock”, “One Live to Live," “All My Children” and“Guiding Light." He has also worked in editorial fashion at Vogue, GQ, Vanity Fair and Glamour Magazines.

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