Living Room Theatre is the brainchild of NC Black Rep founder, Larry Leon Hamlin. After recognizing that in his hometown of Winston-Salem, theatre about and created by African Americans did not exist, Mr. Hamlin set out to fill that void by creating The North Carolina Black Repertory Company. He achieved his goal by entering community into the conversation with a program called Living Room Theatre, which brought live theatre into the homes of African Americans and sparked debate on the importance of representation when it comes to power and power structures. The community rallied behind him and today NC Black Rep not only remains a vehicle for those stories to be told, but also has a seven-figure economic impact on the city of Winston-Salem.
The legacy of Living Room Theatre continues as a NC Black Rep outreach program. From October 2019 through March 2020, NC Black Rep will produce one staged reading per month of new plays by nationally recognized up-and-coming writers at locations throughout the city of Winston-Salem. The readings will be free to the public and target underserved members of the community such as the elderly, the LGBT community, low-income residents, and others who may not otherwise have access or the means to enjoy live theatre, and whose stories are often marginalized by society.
2019-2020 selected plays are as follows:
Blooming in Dry Season
Playwright: Eljon Wardally
Synopsis: Set in a rum shop in the Spice Isle of Grenada, Rose, an oppressed housewife, has lived life for her husband, Fitz, a failed Calypsonian, and daughter, Garland, a gifted steel pan player. When a once in a lifetime opportunity for her daughter presents itself, Rose realizes she’s put her own dreams on hold long enough and she is forced to make a decision, should she stay or should she go?
The Book of Leonidas
Playwright: Augusto Amador
Synopsis: Lenny is a Dominican-American hustler selling loosies on the same street corner in Queens that his father, Leonidas, used to rule over as legendary crime lord in the ’70’s. From his loosie profits he supports and lives with his repressive mother who derides him for not living up to Leonidas’ criminal legacy. Lenny finds an escape while working on his graphic novels until he stumbles into love with a pretty white girl, Lindsey. As their relationship deepens, the pressure of who he wants to be and who he was meant to be, careen into a final conclusion. The Book of Leonidas is the second play is Augusto’s Latin-American Dictator Trilogy of plays.
The House of the Negro Insane
Playwright: Terence Anthony
Synopsis: The year is 1935 and the Taft State Hospital is one of seven psychiatric facilities in the U.S. built exclusively to care for “insane and idiotic negroes,” where the homeless and downtrodden are housed alongside the criminally insane and diseased. Attius builds coffins at Taft Hospital, where he has been locked up for years, but when two new patients ask him to help them escape Attius dares to dream of a life beyond the hospital walls.
Playwright: Charles L. White
When Marcus Chandler, a veteran of Black Theatre, meets Steven Harrison, a promising young actor, he appears to be a fan looking for mentorship. Or is he? As Marcus ruins his closest relationships in the business, Steve uses his charm to undermine him and advance to Broadway. But can he maintain his success with so many enemies? Will Marcus repair his connections to make a comeback? Succession follows their journey as they struggle against each other to realize their ambitions.
Welcome to Fear City
Playwright: Kara Corthron
It is July 1977 and the South Bronx is HOT: from a heat wave, from this new thing that would come to be known as “hip-hop,” and from an astounding number of fires burning the borough to the ground. E, a young African-American man, dreams of being a poet, but unemployment, a raging fiscal crisis, and a family on the brink of disaster drive him to ask a dangerous question: Can you love your ‘hood if you take part in its destruction? Welcome to Fear City is about a community trying to get by in the midst of crime, social apathy, poverty, and a whole new art form that’s about to electrify the world.
Welcome to Matteson!
Playwright: Inda Craig-Galvan
A suburban couple hosts a welcome-to-the-neighborhood dinner party for their new neighbors — a couple recently (forcibly) relocated from Chicago’s roughest housing project — and it’s anything but welcoming. A dark intra-racial comedy about reverse gentrification and how we deal with the “other” when the other looks just like us.