For those who came early they got the chance to watch Seret Scott, a very important actress, director and writer in the theatre community share excerpts from her new one woman play Artistic Housing, an autobiographical retelling from different vignettes of her life as an Actress and more importantly a human being who was unafraid to live life, experiencing all of its aspects.
The NBS was an all day workshop where different artist in the industry would share their experience, give their advice and answer questions from those who want to make their mark in this theatre community. These workshops included things such as Interactive HipHop Theatre, or a conversation about branding yourself as an Actor. Different productive workshops were one of the guarantees at the Symposium, but the highlight was when Ntozake Shange made a surprise appearance at the NBS luncheon. She is simply a legend, so the only reaction the audience gave her was a standing ovation. She is living proof of what it means to be a voice for the voiceless.
The luncheon, called "chat and chew", was a forum led by Michael Bobbitt, Producing Artistic Director of Adventure Theatre MTC. The conversation was on what it takes to run a for profit or not for profit theatre company in this day and age. He was accompanied by well known producers in the DC theatre scene and Broadway, such as Alia Jones-Harvey, who was one of the producers who brought an all black production of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and Streetcar Named Desire to perform on the great white way.
The lesson was that it takes more than having a deep wallet to succeed; a message and a vision is required to last for more than one season.
This informative session lead into the last workshops of the day and that was followed by a play directed by Seret Scott called Good Kids.
I left the symposium with a deeper perspective on this business I made a conscious decision to be apart of; I was listening and learning from men and women who have a direct and clear objective in how they want to contribute to the world. But it wasn't a bittersweet realization, I left empowered but not in a naive state; I was in an environment of people who work smart at their craft. And that is the simple blessing of meeting these artists of color. Against the stereotypes and generalizations that have been instilled in American psyche by misinformed media, they are living and breathing human beings breaking the norm of what it means black while being dedicated to this art form.