What does it mean to be an American radical? BAM and BRIC bring us a discussion of playwright and activist Lorraine Hansberry’s radicalism, presented in conjunction with BAM’s production of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window.
With Joi Gresham, Anne Kauffman and Arminda Thomas
In conversation with Soyica Diggs Colbert
Opening poetry by Grace Tapia
“We have to find some way … to show and to encourage the white liberal to stop being a liberal and become an American radical.”—Lorraine Hansberry, “The Black Revolution and the White Backlash”
What does it mean to be an American radical? In Lorraine Hansberry’s life, activism, and artistic work, she called for a shift from liberalism to radicalism designed to meet the moment of the Civil Rights Movement.
Join a group of Hansberry scholars and theater makers for a discussion of Hansberry’s radicalism, presented in conjunction with BAM’s production of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window—about a group of progressive dreamers in 1960s New York—and the related exhibit “Art is Energy”: Lorraine Hansberry, World Builder. This wide-ranging conversation, co-presented by BAM and BRIC, explores the tension between liberalism and radicalism in Hansberry’s play and beyond, and what it could look like for liberals to become radicals today.
About the Participants
Soyica Diggs Colbert (Curator of “Art is Energy”: Lorraine Hansberry, World Builder) is the Idol Family Professor of African American Studies and Performing Arts at Georgetown University and the Vice President of Interdisciplinary Initiatives. Colbert’s award-winning book, Radical Vision: A Biography of Lorraine Hansberry. She has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities to support a residency at the Schomburg Center, Woodrow Wilson Foundation, Stanford University, Mellon Foundation, and the Robert W. Woodruff Library at Emory University. Colbert has also lectured nationally and internationally at universities, high schools, and middle schools as well as for civic and arts organizations. Colbert’s writing has been featured in the The New York Times, Washington Post, Public Books,Metrograph and American Theatre. She has been interviewed on NPR and commented for the New York Times, USA Today, CNN, and the Washington Post. She is an Associate Director at the Shakespeare Theatre Company in Washington, D.C. She has also served as a Creative Content Producer for The Public Theatre’s audio play, shadow/land. Her research interests span the 19th-21st centuries, from Harriet Tubman to Beyoncé, and from poetics to performance.
Joi Gresham (Script Supervisor for The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window) as the Director and Trustee of the Lorraine Hansberry Literary Trust, oversees the multi-media licensing of Hansberry’s works and other intellectual properties; acts as a consulting producer for stage productions in the US and abroad; serves as editor for print editions of Hansberry’s writings; and cultivates and curates the ongoing interest in the artist, activist, public intellectual, and writer. She is the daughter of Jewell Gresham Nemiroff and Robert Nemiroff, Hansberry’s former husband and literary executor.
Anne Kauffman (Director of The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window) has credits including with New York Philharmonic, Ars Nova, Atlantic Theater, NYTW, Roundabout Theatre Company, Encores! Off-Center, Women’s Project, Playwrights Horizons, MCC, The Public, P73 Productions, New Georges, Vineyard Theater, LCT3, Yale Rep, Steppenwolf, Goodman Theater, The Wilma Theater, La Jolla Playhouse, Z Space, American Conservatory Theater, Berkeley Rep and Nashville, Chicago and Boston Symphonies. She is a resident director at Roundabout Theater, artistic director of City Center’s Encores! Off-Center 2017—2020, artistic associate and founding member of The Civilians, a Clubbed Thumb associate artist and co-creator of the CT Directing Fellowship, a New Georges associate artist, an SDC executive board member, and vice president and trustee of SDCF. Kauffman’s awards include three Obies, the Joan and Joseph Cullman Award for Exceptional Creativity from Lincoln Center, the Alan Schneider Director Award, a Lucille Lortel Award, and the Joe A. Callaway Award. Co-creator of the Cast Album Project with Jeanine Tesori.
Grace Tapia is a New York-based poet, playwright, screenwriter and performer. She is an alum of the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Brooklyn Interns for Arts and Culture program where she was one of twelve arts interns during her senior year of high school. She is also the winner of the spoken word category for national YoungArts program in 2022 and a Presidential Scholar of the Arts 2022 nominee. Currently, Grace is a freshman Acting and Playwriting major at Hunter College. In her writing, Grace hopes to keep the memory of the Brooklyn she was raised in alive through her art in the midst of rapid gentrification and honor other Black and Brown queer people.
Arminda Thomas (Dramaturg for The Sign in Sidney Brustein’s Window) is resident dramaturg and a producing member of CLASSIX. Selected dramaturgy credits include Death of a Salesman (Hudson Theatre), Wedding Band (Theatre for a New Audience), Black Picture Show (Artists Space), Mirrors (Next Door at New York Theatre Workshop), Black History Museum… According to the United States of America (HERE Arts Center), and Jazz (Marin Theatre Company). She previously served as archivist and dramaturg for Dee-Davis Enterprises, where she was an executive producer for the Grammy-awarded audiobook, With Ossie and Ruby: In This Life Together, and consultant for the film Life’s Essentials with Ruby Dee.
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