Funded by The Black Seed, the African-American Shakespeare Company and the CRAFT Institute have come together to form the African Diaspora Network that will debut Echoes of Us: Now and Always July 15-17 at the Marines Memorial Theater.
“Echoes of Us: Now and Always will consist of a series of monologues that capture the essence and vitality of who we are as black people,” said Monica White Ndounou, associate professor of theater at Dartmouth College and founding executive director of the CRAFT Institute. . “This collection, centered on our healing and our life lessons to flourish, is a powerful opportunity to dramatize our interconnections and embrace the spiral nature of time, as well as our lived experiences across generations and reimagine the possibilities of our existence.
“Our communities,” says director Shay, “will be treated to a delightful staged reading of works by established and emerging writers from the Bay Area and beyond. television will perform monologues and spoken word with music and imagery that not only celebrates who we are, but infuses us with the vitality, clarity and shared enthusiasm to create a future in one world, one country and one family we wish to live in; reminding us how to access joy and healing in these troubled times.
The project began in earnest when a call went out in the spring for submissions “from authors, playwrights, seers and storytellers” to contribute to the collective narrative. Organized by L. Peter Callender, Monica Ndounou and Michele Shay, contributors include:
- Nigerian actor and storyteller Mfoniso Udofia (Apple TV’s Little America)
- Activist, playwright and Oprah Book Club introduced novelist Pearl Cleage (What Looks Like Crazy On An Ordinary Day)
- Golden Globe and Emmy winning actress and playwright Regina Taylor (I’ll Fly Away)
- Playwright, screenwriter and associate professor at the Tisch School of the Arts Richard Wesley (Uptown Saturday Night)
- Bay Area actor, poet, spoken word artists and rapper Jamey Williams
“We’re thrilled to have Michele Shay on this project,” said Shakespeare’s African-American art director L. Peter Callender. “As a Tony Award-nominated performer, critically acclaimed director, and current faculty member at USC’s School of Dramatic Arts, her involvement takes the project to a whole new level.”
Plans are for Echoes of Us: Now and Always to tour the country in the latter part of 2022. “This project has been a long road and has finally come to fruition after the last two years of Covid,” says the Afro founder American of the Shakespeare Company and Executive Director Sherri Young. “And we look forward to announcing tour dates and cities in September.
The cast: Sola Bamis (Stitchers and Mad Men); Vanessa Bell Calloway (Shameless, Coming to America and What’s Love Got to Do With It); Jason Dirden (Greenleaf, American Soul and House of Payne) and Desean Kevin Terry (The Morning Show on Apple TV) and AASC Artistic Director L. Peter Callender
What: Echoes of Us: Now and Forever
Presented by: The African Diasporic Network (The CRAFT Institute & the African-American Shakespeare Company, funded by The Black Seed)
Where: Marines Memorial Theater, 609 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA
When: July 15-17
Times: July 15, 8 p.m.; July 16, 8 p.m.; July 17, 3 p.m.
Tickets: Single ticket price: $30 to $75 and can be purchased at african-americanshakes.org; season pass tickets can be purchased for $100 – $199