Simpatico Theater launches virtual platform to showcase Black Playwrights

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Black playwright's group has a new virtual platform to showcase its work.

Karen Rogers has more in this week's 6abc Loves the Arts.

It's called The Virtual New Play Showcase and it's a collaboration between Simpatico Theater and Jouska PlayWorks.

Simpatico provides the platform for a collective of seven Black playwrights.

"They are providing a space that prioritizes their stories, their cultural connections, their voice," says Allison Heishman, Artistic Director at the theater.

"Very often work by artists of color tends to be thought of as kind of monolithic," says Quinn D. Eli, a playwright at Jouska PlayWorks.

All of these diverse plays, they're funny, they're dramatic, they're poetic, and we're not just writing about Black bodies being murdered," Says Teresa Miller, another playwright at Jouska.

One of the plays is called "The return of the SHOGUN." It tells the story of a young man who identifies with a character from the 1985 film, "The Last Dragon."

"His stepfather passed away, and his biological father comes back into his life," says playwright Keenya Jackson. "Now he has to struggle with finding his identity."

The plays were supposed to be staged this past summer. But with the pandemic, they have been reimagined as Pay What You Decide digital readings with donations going to organizations designated by the playwrights.

"We're hoping to make each of these pieces have a feeling of community around them, with chats and conversations and feedback," Heishman says.

The artists hope the plays especially resonate with young people interested in pursuing a career in the arts.

"It gives them a concrete vision of how they can really tell their stories and be artists in the world, Eli says.

Simpatico Theater will live stream a new play every other Monday starting Jan. 11 and continuing into March.

Simpatico Theater | The Virtual New Play Showcase
Jan. 11-March 27
850 South 2nd St. Philadelphia, PA 19147
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