Feb 11, 2020

Poetry Electric: Celebrating The Words Of Black Playwrights

Featuring, Richard Wesley, Karen Chilton, and more!

a black arrow pointing downward

Poetry Electric returns for Black History Month to celebrate the words of Black Playwrights with an evening of selected monologue presentations hosted by Professor Richard Wesley!

Richard Wesley, Karen Chilton, Maurice McRae, Spencer Scott Barros, R. Ashley Bowles
Messeret Stroman-Wheeler, Richarda Abrams, Kim Weston-Moran, Sarah Tournesoul Shah

Headshot of Richarda Abrams

Richarda Abrams three time AUDELCO award-winning actress/singer/playwright/producer. Wrote: First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune Winning the 2019 AUDELCO Viv Award For Solo Performance of the Year, Won 2018 United Solo Theatre Festival Best Educational Show Award. www.FirstByFaith.com Performances include: First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune, (SOLDOUT at the National Black Theatre Festival), Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner (Ivoryton Playhouse), Amina Claudine Myers’ Generation IV, 2019 (NYC Winter Jazz Festival), Last Days of Judas Iscariot director Estelle Parsons (La Mama). CD SONG FOR ALL with her father the late Dr. Muhal Richard Abrams musician/composer/ visionary/co-founder of the Association For The Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM). Richarda is a graduate of New York University Tisch School of the Arts and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with honors in Acting, and NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development and received a Master of Arts in Educational Theater. Richarda next appears at the 14 Street Y with First By Faith: The Life Of Mary McLeod Bethune. February 25 – March 15 part of the Women’s History Solo Show Series. https:// www.14streety.org/artsandculture/womens-history-solo-show-series/

Headshot of Spencer Scott Barros

Spencer Scott Barros (AEA-SAG/AFTRA) is an actor/producer/teaching artist/facilitator working in New York City for over 25 years. He is currently one of the founders and the Associate Artistic Director of Liberation Theatre Company. He is a founding member and producer of Harlem9 that produces the Obie Award winning 48Hours in…Harlem festival, which has expanded to the Bronx, Detroit and North Carolina. He currently works as senior facilitator for CSW Associates, Inc., a leading consulting firm specializing in work place diversity, inclusion and leadership training.  As an actor he has a lengthy resume with credits on Broadway, Off-Broadway and regionally.  On television he has appeared in many television shows, commercials, print ads and voice-overs.  

Headshot of R Ashley Bowles

R Ashley Bowles a.k.a. COWBOY is a producer – Boot Strap Production. As an actor he has played the roles of Brutus Jones – The Emperor Jones, Doaker – The Piano Lesson, Elderly Satchel Paige –Requiem For Racism (NFT, Nominated for Audelco Award Best Actor, Younger Satchel Paige, Josh Gibson – Black Babe Ruth, Charles (drug addict) – Columbus Circle (Nominated Best Actor – Globe Theatre, NYC, and many other roles through the years.

Headshot of Karen Chilton

Karen Chilton is a New York-based Writer/Actor whose work has been seen off-B’way and in numerous feature films and on episodic television, including Still Here, Half Nelson, It’s Kind of a Funny Story, Lincoln Rhyme, Quantico, Rubicon, Law & Order: Criminal Intent. Her writing credits include: AFRODISIAC (2020 Goldberg Prize nominee); HEIRLOOM (Semi-Finalist 2019 O’Neill Nat’l Playwrights Conference); CONVERGENCE (Winner of the New Professional Theatre’s Writers Festival); THE SOUL NOW SINGS produced by NPR (WNYC), libretto written & performed by Karen Chiton; music by Damien Sneed. She is the author of the critically-acclaimed biography of jazz pianist HAZEL SCOTT: The Pioneering Journey of a Jazz Pianist (Univ.of Michigan Press) and the co-author of the jazz memoir of legendary vocalist Gloria Lynne, I WISH YOU LOVE (St. Martin’s Press). She is also an award-winning narrator and voiceover artist. M.F.A., NYU-Tisch School of the Arts. AEA|SAG-AFTRA.

Headshot of Maurice McRae

Maurice McRae is a veteran New York-based stage/screen actor. A San Francisco native, Maurice’s theatre credits include: B’way: Lynn Nottage’s SWEAT (Studio 54); off-B’way: SPILL (Ensemble Studio Theatre), COLLAPSE (New York City Center) and WILD WITH HAPPY (The Public Theatre). Regional credits include: MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM (Baltimore Centerstage & Philadelphia Theatre Company), MARCUS; OR THE SECRET OF SWEET (City Theatre of Pittsburgh), and THE PIANO LESSON (Long Beach Playhouse in Los Angeles). TV/Film credits: MY OTHER HOME, NIGHTHAWKS, STILL HERE, RANDOM ACTS OF FLYNESS. ELEMENTARY, AWKWARDLY, “24” AEA|SAG-AFTRA. B.A., Morehouse College: M.F.A.: Acting, Rutgers University. www.mauricemcrae.com

Headshot of Sarah Shah

From the Bronx, NY, Sarah Shah, known as Tournesoul is a vibrant, Performing Artist, singer-songwriter who takes listeners on a journey. On the independent scene since 2013, She has been a guest twice on ABC’s Here and Now with Sandra Bookman, along with performing at venues and events like the Highline Ballroom, the Oakdale Theater in CT, NY Fashion & Music Conference, and Making Strides for Breast Cancer Walk. Getting attention from, A&R Factory in the UK, DOPECAUSEWESAID, in Philly, featured on stage buddy as an actress in A Subway Story, By Electric Black; she’s successfully created a buzz for herself by staying dedicated to her performance career. Currently, Tournesoul has two projects out called Garden of My Soul on Soundcloud and AURA on all digital streaming platforms. In addition, she recently released a new single with her brother, Quote The MC, called “Vibe Tunight”, and she is excited to be continuously working on new music with like-minded artists.

Headshot of Messeret Stroman Wheeler

Messeret Stroman Wheeler is an Audelco Award-winning actor (and 3-time nominee), her theatre credits include Fast Blood, Joe Turners Come and Gone, Insurrection: Holding History, and Blue. On television, Messeret can be seen on The Sopranos, Law & Order, Law & Order: SVU, alongside numerous commercials over the years including Disney World, IKEA, Brawny, and more. Her voice can be heard in Soul Men <x-apple-data-detectors://0>, Damages and Boardwalk Empire, commercials for Advil, Verizon, Huggies, Kellogg’s, etc and the video games Red Dead Revolver, Grand Theft Auto and The Warriors. She is the Associate Producer/Social Media Manager of The American Slavery Project, and a cum laude theatre graduate of HBCU, Florida A & M University (FAMU) where she was initiated into and became a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.  Messeret is married to actor Ed Wheeler. http://www.messeret.me/

Headshot of Richard Wesley

Richard Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey and graduated from Howard University. He studied Playwriting under the tutelage of Owen Dodson and Ted Shine. A member of the New Lafayette Theater from 1970 through 1973, he served as Managing Editor of its Black Theater magazine. He was presented with a Drama Desk Award for his 1971 stage play, THE BLACK TERROR. His 1978 play, THE MIGHTY GENTS, appeared on Broadway. His 1989 play, THE TALENTED TENTH, brought him his fourth AUDELCO Award for outstanding play. In 2013, he wrote the libretto for an opera, PAPA DOC, for the Trilogy Opera Company, with music composed by Dorothy Rudd Moore, and adapted from an essay by Edwidge Danticat. He has recently completed a second libretto for Trilogy Opera, this one entitled, FIVE, with music composed by Anthony Davis. A new play, AUTUMN, will receive its premiere at the Crossroads Theater in New Brunswick in April of 2015. Mr. Wesley has shared two NAACP Image “Best Picture” Awards for the motion pictures, UPTOWN SATURDAY NIGHT and LET’S DO IT AGAIN, both of which starred Sidney Poitier and Bill Cosby. Among his other motion pictures: NATIVE SON (1984) and FAST FORWARD (1985). Mr. Wesley is currently an Associate Professor in the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, and has just completed eight years as the Chair of the Rita and Burton Goldberg Department of Dramatic Writing there. He is a former Vice President of the Writers Guild of America, East, Inc., and currently sits on the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, the Selection Committee for the Black Film Festival of the Newark Museum, the Board of Directors, Newark Performing Arts Corporation at Symphony Hall and is an Advisor to the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers University in Brooklyn, NY. He is married to the novelist, Valerie Wilson Wesley.

Headshot of Kim Weston-Moran

Kim Weston-Moran is a veteran actress known for her character work. She has shared the stage with phenomenal artists, including: Minnie Gentry, Bill Gunn, Roxie Roker, Phyllcia Rashad, Gylan Kain, Patricia O’Connell, Anthony Chisholm, Ellen Dolan, S. Epatha Merkinson, Charles Weldon, Marjorie Johnson, Count Stovall, Bill Cobbs, Dominique Morisseau and Darnell Williams. Nominated for four AUDELCO Awards, she won Lead Actress for DON’T EXPLAIN with Ron Cephas Jones. Film & Television credits include CBS’s DIVORCE COURT and BAKER’S DOZEN; Daresha Kyi’s film, THINNEST LINE (Winner of Ossining Women’s Film Festival); and the title role in Ayoka Chenzira’s feature film, ALMA’S RAINBOW. Theatre credits include: Negro Ensemble Company Workshop of SWING (La MaMa) & 50th Anniversary of the classic DAY OF ABSENCE; Crossroads Theatre Company’s’ premiere of AUTUMN by Richard Wesley; RISEN FROM THE DOUGH (Ensemble Studio Theatre); THE LONELY SOLDIER MONOLOGUES, directed by William Electric (TNC / La MaMa); and she was ecstatic to create Irina, the Russian wig mistress in Leslie Lee’s BLUES IN A BROKEN TONGUE (NEC). Kim is Producing Artistic Director of POTPOURRI! World Women Works Series (in it’s 10th season) and she received an ART-NY Award for producing ANOTHER SIDE OF A KING – Films and Literature of Woodie King, Jr. Ms. Weston-Moran directs, coaches, teaches Basic Technique and is writing a screenplay and TV Series. rhythmcolorassoc@gmail.com. www.rhythmcolorassociates.com

Poetry Electric


The Poetry Electric fuses music, movement, sound, and dance with the spoken word and presents artists working in a wide range of styles including beatboxing, jazz and hip-hop theatre. This series has presented over 200 emerging poets from diverse cultural backgrounds.

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