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In February of last year, we had the distinct pleasure of spotlighting theatre powerhouse Valerie Curtis-Newton. (You can read it here.) And, since that time, Valerie has made even more strides in theatre, worthy of noting, and spotlighting, once again!

As a master director and highly sought collaborator, Valerie has taken up the task of bringing a new body of work into the American theatre canon, this time with long-time colleague and seasoned theater artist Reginald André Jackson for History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near, premiering at ACT Theatre and produced in partnership with The Hansberry Project. The show opens on January 28th and runs through February 12, 2023.

In our February Q & A with Curtis-Newton, she noted, “I have always gained strength from the Black community. To have our work and history honored and respected is a great gift.”

As she always does and continues to do, with this production, Valerie is actively participating in the delivery of the great gift of honoring and respecting our history.

History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near is a time travel experience that takes us back 200 years, from 1820 to the mid-1930s to visit with Black theatre artists who are here to challenge the stories we’ve been told about who makes theatre and who it is for. This journey illuminates Black theatre history including the little-known 1930s Negro unit of the Federal Theatre Project in Seattle.

The two-part play is an exploration into the often-forgotten impact of Black theatre and Black theatre artists, casting a compelling light on our legacy, and reminding us that our contributions to the well-established institution of theatre could not have thrived without our presence and creativity.

Curtis-Newton co-founded The Hansberry Project in 2004, immersing herself in the mission to create a professional Black theatre company dedicated to the artistic exploration of African American life, history, and culture. The company spent 5 years in residence at ACT Theatre, and so it is most fitting that she also returns to ACT to direct this play, written by actor/playwright Reginald André Jackson, who is a member of the ACT Core Company. The Seattle Times named History of Theatre as one of the most anticipated shows of 2023!

Learn more about History of Theatre: About, By, For, and Near, here.


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