Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) explores issues of race, oppression, and injustice with a new online series Our Times: Uprising.
The virtual reading series of plays, poetry, and other writings by Black American authors starts Monday, July 13, and will run for three weeks on consecutive Mondays.
“The Our Times: Uprising series features voices that have been ignored too long,” said Artistic Director of JCTC Olga Levina. “As a theater company, social justice has always been in our mission, and it’s our obligation to respond to the issues of today by speaking truth to power through stories. With what is happening now in America, we felt that one of the most important things we could do was to listen to those stories.”
Our Time: Uprising is a mix of genres with subject matter both topical and historical. The series presents rehearsed readings by professional actors, followed by an interactive discussion highlighted by an audience question and answer period.
Mark Cirnigliaro, a theater director with credits on both sides of the Hudson, curated the series.
He worked with Broadway theater veteran and Montclair resident Count Stovall, who was instrumental in shaping the relevance of each episode to address the complex racial issues of today.
The series opener on July 13 titled La Race (La Raz) sets the tone by addressing issues relevant to the current era. This contemporary play depicts a heated city council election battle over the divisive issue of gentrification depicting the realities of gentrification when a jobless woman finds meaning by running for city council.
“This is a beautifully executed play, one of a series of works, written by Bley Beckford-Burrell, who is a fantastic playwright with a unique way of exploring the nuances and challenges of the black experience in America,” Cirnigliaro said.
A Collection of Poems will take place on July 20. This episode is an evening of poetry – ranging from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes – recited by professional actors and curated by Count Stovall, Nicolette Lynch, Marie Thomas, and Perri Gaffney.
“Count felt that something comprehensive in its scope and viewpoint from the black woman perspective would give us some truth and gravitas to our current time through the lens of wonderfully drawn, beautiful characters full of life and love,” Cirnigliaro said. “The poetry readings are an extension of that idea. This could be love of another person, love of a people, a culture, but love is the common driving force. This meant presenting works by black authors, lifting up black voices for our local community, and providing something more intangibly magical for people to experience.”
The final episode on July 27 is Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters’ First 100 Years. The play, written by Emily Mann, features the life and times of Bessie and Sadie, a sister duo whose delightful yet poignant stories span the post-Reconstruction South to the 20th century Civil Rights Movement.
Our Times: Uprising is part of Stories of Greenville, the first arts project to be part of the I Love Greenville Community Plan, a neighborhood improvement initiative created by the Greenville Community Partnership (GCP) and funded by the statewide Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) program.
Our Times: Uprising is free. No subscription fee required.
All episodes air at 6 p.m. via Zoom. Those who RSVP will receive a meeting ID and password to join the event in real time.
To RSVP go to www.JCTCenter.org click on upcoming shows, and then click on get tickets.