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May 03

2024 Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

Please join us for the 2024 Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium, featuring Sade Lythcott and Jonathan McCrory of National Black Theatre as our keynote speakers! This year's theme is "Theatre As Catalyst for Liberation: Creativity Within Constraints," and will feature panels discussing Storytelling for Liberation, Liberating the Past and Future, and Strategies for Liberation. We're thrilled to host PTRS at The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts and look forward to having you in attendance!

The John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts
800 E Lancaster Ave, Villanova, PA 19085
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May 03, 2024 08:30am - May 03, 2024 06:30pm


The 2024 Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium's (PTRS) theme is “Theatre as Catalyst for Liberation: Creativity Within Constraints,” which asks us to think about how theatre practice and non-traditional storytelling forms are connected to liberation – (Black Liberation specifically in the case of NBT), freeing ourselves, our ideas, and others. Theatre as a form and craft teaches us how to be creative within constraints, inviting discussions of not only what our narratives are, but also how the processes by which they are created are honed and crystalized for Impact. This becomes even more important when ideological, aesthetic, political, and financial limitations are continual pressures that center “traditional” western ideology (inclusive of colonialism, capitalism and co-option/appropriation) in the current global theatre landscape. These topics will be explored in a keynote address by National Black Theatre’s (NBT) Chief Executive Officer, Sade Lythcott, and Executive Artistic Director, Jonathan McCrory, as well as in their workshop on Holistic Producing: Decolonizing the Western Frame.

Sade Lythcott

Chief Executive Officer

National Black Theatre

Jonathan McCrory

Artistic Director

National Black Theatre


8:30 am Registration Opens

9:00 am Opening Remarks

9:15 – 10:30 am Storytelling for Liberation: Reclaiming and Reimagining Narratives

The Playmakers: The Intersectionality of Arts and Athletics in Contemporary Storytelling – Ryan Henry

I’ll Do Me and You Do You: Critical Race Theory and Reclaiming Black Narratives – Stefan Matthews

Embodying the #Hashtags & Headlines: Performing Narratives of Social Resilience and Resistance – Brittney S. Harris, Asst. Prof, Old Dominion U

10:40 am – 12:10 pm Keynote Address - National Black Theatre

12:10 –1:10 pm Lunch

1:10 – 2:35 pm Liberating the Past, Liberating the Future: Theatrical Pasts, Presents, and Futures

Readying the Revolution: Before the Black Arts Movement – Jonathan Shandell, Assoc. Prof., Arcadia U

Were We Watching the Same Shakespeare?: A Phenomenological Look at Audience Responses to the First Productions of the Bard – Sharese Salters

The Marvelous and the Fantastic: Speculations on Contemporary Afrosurrealism in US American Theatre – Jodi Van Der Horn-Gibson, Assoc. Prof, Queensborough Comm College

Decolonizing and Liberating Theatre: Rethinking Theatrical Spaces Through a Fanonian Approach – Zainab Warda Jeffrey

2:45 – 4:00 pm Strategies for Liberation: Envisioning New Theatrical Structures and Systems

Holistic and Effective Management Strategies: DEI&A Strategy Implementation for Theatre Leaders, Managers, and Administrators – Noelle Diane Johnson

A New Decolonization Method: Dramaturgy’s Potential Contribution to Cultural Storytelling in American Theatre – Autumn Storm Blalock, Azuka Theatre

What (Not) to Learn from a Casting Controversy – Brian Eugenio Herrera, Professor, Princeton U

4:10 – 5:40 pm Workshop

5:45 – 6:30 pm Wine and Cheese

About National Black Theatre

NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE (NBT) is a Tony and Emmy Award-nominated institution founded in 1968 by the late visionary artist Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. The nation’s first revenue-generating Black arts complex, NBT is the longest-running Black theatre in New York City, one of the oldest theatres founded and consistently operated by a woman of color in the nation, and has been included in the permanent collection of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. NBT’s core mission is to produce transformational theatre that helps to shift the inaccuracies around African Americans’ cultural identity by telling authentic stories of Black lives. As an alternative learning environment, NBT uses theatre arts as a means to educate, enrich, entertain, empower and inform the national conscience around current social issues impacting our communities. Under the leadership of Sade Lythcott, CEO, and Jonathan McCrory, Executive Artistic Director, NBT helps reshape a more inclusive American theatre field by providing an artistically rigorous and culturally sensitive space for artists of color to experiment, develop and present new work. Working with trailblazing artists from Nona Hendrix to Jeremy O. Harris; helping to launch the careers, most recently, of artists such as Dominique Morisseau, Radha Blank, Mfoniso Udofia, Saheem Ali, Lee Edward Colston II, and Ebony Noelle Golden; and incubating Obie Award-winning companies like The Movement Theatre Company and Harlem9’s 48Hours in Harlem, NBT’s cultural production remains unparalleled. Located in the heart of Harlem, NBT is embarking on a historic major capital redevelopment project that will transform the current property into a 21st-century destination for Black culture through theatre. NBT welcomes more than 90,000 visitors annually; has produced 300+ original works; won 2 Obie awards and 58 AUDELCO Awards; received a CEBA Award of Merit; and has been nominated for multiple Drama Desk awards. NBT is supported by grants from Booth Ferris Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Ford Foundation, New York Community Trust, Shubert Foundation, Howard Gilman Foundation, Jerome Foundation, Mellon Foundation, Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone Development Corporation, City Council of New York, City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, New York State Council on the Arts, National Endowment for the Arts,and private donations. Visit or follow NBT on Facebook (@NationalBlackTheatre) and Twitter/Instagram (@NatBlackTheatre).

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About NBT’s Holistic Producing Approach

NBT’s holistic producing model is forged out of the venerated IP of its founder and her vision. This innovative approach amplifies artists’ work to ensure the production is in service of the narrative change that can ultimately affect hearts, minds and policies. Each show produced at NBT is paired with a uniquely curated blend of content – Dramaturgical Lobby Exhibition, After Words, Music Playlist and Community Partnerships – to arouse questioning, disruption, and expansion of consciousness. We seek to provide a foundation for communal activation, internal reflection, healing and so much more. The result is a revealing, embracing, acceptance and celebration within artistic and audience communities of the inherent beauty and value of Black bodies and lives. It is through this approach that NBT creates the conditions for our productions to be holistic experiences from start to finish, rather than fleeting or transactional. The cultural, social and political themes Black artists explore provide a foundation for such activism, internal reflection, and healing. To broaden impact beyond the production itself, NBT has fostered partnerships with social justice organizations, colleges, public schools, and direct service organizations – customizing audience engagement opportunities to each production based on the social impact themes being explored.

About Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium

Now in its seventeenth year, the Philadelphia Theatre Research Symposium (PTRS) is an annual forum for theatre scholars and practitioners to share their research and work in order to enter into a dialogue about current trends in theatrical practice and scholarship. Additionally, PTRS seeks to provide a platform for the works of emerging theatre scholars. Panels will consist of paper presentations of 15-20 minutes and will be moderated by a scholar and/or practitioner. PTRS has welcomed such varied and accomplished keynote speakers as Ty Dafoe, Sarah Ruhl, Emily Mann, Elizabeth LeCompte, Anna Deveare Smith and Richard Schechner.