How National Black Theatre is Making a New Home in Harlem — and on Broadway Most Popular Must Read Sign Up for Variety Newsletters More From Our Brands

The National Black Theater is in the middle of building a new home in Harlem — but then again, the company has been in the home building business for 55 years.

Listen to this week’s “Stagecraft” podcast below:

On a new episode of Stagecraft, Variety’s theater podcast, Sade Lythcott, CEO of the National Black Theater (NBT), said, “Home has been an idea for black African-American culture since we were driven out of Africa. ” “How do we create something with consistency and consider giving our community something that has been a true home since black people were brought to this country from Africa?”

This has been a question since the NBT was founded in 1968 by Laithcott’s mother, Dr. Barbara Ann Teer. Now, under the leadership of Lythcott and Executive Artistic Director Jonathan McCrory, NBT is poised to build a new, 21-story Harlem facility that will house a new theater complex as well as retail and affordable housing units.

Meanwhile, the theater is making its Broadway debut with “Fat Ham” (pictured above), the Pulitzer Prize-winning play by James Ijams that NBT produced in association with the Public Theater last year. was and will open at that time. American Airlines Theater in April.

The play initially premiered in 2021 in a video capture filmed at a time when most theaters were still in the dark due to COVID-19. “‘Fat Ham’ was an antidote at a moment when we all needed it,” McCrory said on Stagecraft. “We all needed a moment to be happy and be a family and see each other smile and laugh. … [The play is] Strongly rooted within black culture while also strongly examining a western cultural icon, Hamlet, invites a family back together.

Laithcott added, “In this tumultuous time, as we mourn the death of Tyr Nichols and countless black bodies, we think part of the antidote is to tell the truth through the medium of joy. Our Community deserves a break.

He continued, “For black audiences, often in this kind of comedy on Broadway we find ourselves in the audience where we feel like people are laughing at us, not with us. ‘Fat Ham’ is a There are moments that call to you where audiences of all shapes, colors, sizes, genders and sexualities can find themselves in these characters. … We can let down our guards and learn more about each other. are

Also on a new episode of Stagecraft, Lythcott and McCrory look back on NBT’s longtime relationship with artists like Ijames and “Fat Ham” director Saeem Ali, culminating in the construction of the nation’s first revenue-generating black arts complex. And explore the results. , and explain why NBT’s founder considered the theater’s Harlem block — at Fifth Avenue and 125th Street — the most famous address in the world.

To hear the full conversation, listen at the link above or download and subscribe to “Stagecraft” on podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, Spotify and the Broadway Podcast Network. New episodes of “Stagecraft” are released every other week.

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