September 26-29, 2018
Hosted by Dr. Monica White Ndounou, Associate Professor of Theater
The 2018 International Black Theatre Summit, “Breaking New Ground Where We Stand,” will be held at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH September 26-29, 2018. Hosted by Dr. Monica White Ndounou, the summit is a reconvening and celebration of legendary playwright, August Wilson’s 1998 “On Golden Pond” black theatre summit which originally convened at Dartmouth to assess the state of black theatre funding, resources and opportunities. Due to various creative and business intersections throughout the entertainment industry, the 2018 reconvening will include industry insiders, experts and scholar-artists and practitioners in theatre, film and media. Our goal is to maintain and establish more intentional strategies and professional networks, programs and coalitions that capitalize on the links between theatre, film, television and related media platforms with domestic and international connections. The network will better support and sustain black artists, cultural producers and audiences thereby providing models for cross-cultural collaborations.
About the Original Black Theatre Summit
In June 1996, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright August Wilson delivered the keynote address for the annual gathering of the Theatre Communications Group, the nation’s pre-eminent organization of non-profit professional theaters. Entitled “The Ground on Which I Stand,” the speech has since become “a critical black theatre manifesto, studied alongside W.E.B. Du Bois’s Four Principles of Negro Theater and Amiri Baraka/LeRoi Jones’s The Revolutionary Theatre”. (Harry Elam Jr., American Theater June 2016 issue). The now-landmark speech immediately ignited an contentious public discussion about racial inequity within the theatrical world, encompassing conversations about casting, funding, audiences, and much more. Subsequent events included a public debate with American Repertory Theater Artistic Director Robert Brustein, moderated by Anna Deveare Smith at the Town Hall in New York City (listen to excerpts from the conversation between Wilson and Brustein here.)
Following the speech and the subsequent firestorm of publicity and debate, Wilson was approached by Dartmouth Professors of Theater Victor Leo Walker II and William Cook, who suggested setting up a major conference for black theatre artists and professionals on campus. The resulting event took place at Dartmouth in March of 1998, with participants that included Ntozake Shange, Ed Bullins, Thulani Davis, Ricardo Khan, Robbie McCauley, Clinton Turner Davis and Woodie King Jr. While the panels were largely closed to the public, the final day was open to all and included sessions on building audiences, strengthening partnerships within the black arts community, and legal and financial strategies for the creation and development of new black theatre companies.