BCC performing arts ensembles present Coffee House March 5-6

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Performances by the New Directional Players, Haraka Writers, the Jahari Dance Troupe and the Black Voices of Inspiration will highlight the Purdue University Black Cultural Center’s Coffee House on March 5-6.

The performances, at 7 p.m. each evening at the BCC, are free and open to the public.

The New Directional Players is a theater group with a focus on presenting drama about the African-American experience. The group’s performance will be based on 180 years of African-American theater and covers black theatrical material from the beginning of slavery to now.

It includes work by authors such as William A. Brown, who is credited with writing the first known play to be written and performed by an African-American; Ira Aldridge, the first African-American to be internationally recognized for his acting talents; female activist and poet Georgia Douglas Johnson; Willis Richardson, the first black author to enjoy a nonmusical Broadway run; Ntozake Shange, inventor of the Choreopoem; Tony award winning George C. Wolfe; August Wilson; and black revolutionary playwrights Amiri Baraka and Kalamu Ya Salaam.

The Haraka Writers, a group of student poets, essayists and short-story writers, will explore the theme “A Celebration of U,” during its portion of Coffee House. It will focus on things that everybody celebrates, from first birthday parties to personal traditions.

The Jahari Dance Troupe, established in 1971, is a student company trained in a variety of techniques that range from traditional styles to contemporary trends in black dance. Named for the Swahili word meaning jewels, the group’s repertoire includes African, ballet, Caribbean, folk, jazz, modern dance and music video dance styles.

The dancers will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stax Records and soul music during their performance.

The Black Voices of Inspiration will sing an excerpt from its spring production (which will be March 30), “Solid Rock-Sinking Sand.” It tells the story of a church that becomes the subject of a reality TV show.

Established in 1975, the Black Voices of Inspiration is committed to the performance of the music of African-Americans. Its repertoire consists of traditional Negro spirituals, contemporary gospel music and popular songs of inspiration.

Artist in residence Twana A. Harris directs the group.

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