New Orleans, LA (Wednesday, August 15, 2014) -- American Theatre Project of New Orleans (ATPNO) returns to Dillard University's Cook Performing Arts Center for its 7th Season in New Orleans, with "FREEDOM SUMMER" by Baton Rouge playwright and teaching artist Spencer Howard, with musical direction by teaching artist and recurring actor on "TREME," Keith Hart. The play runs September 11 through September 21, 2014. "FREEDOM SUMMER" tells the story of two young people who join the Civil Rights Movement and become agents for change. Along with their peers, common citizens, and community activists they strive to change the moral fiber of a nation.
Directed by veteran Ed Bishop, who served as a teaching artist for such organizations as KidsmArt of New Orleans, Volunteers of America of Greater New Orleans, and the District of Columbia Public Schools, along with a team of professional actors, teaching artists, community activists and youth artists, ATPNO will stage a dramatic signature moment in homage to the 50th Anniversary year of the Civil Rights Movement. "FREEDOM SUMMER" will be performed September 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 and 20 at 8:00 p.m. with matinees on September 14 and 21 at 3:00 p.m. General admission tickets are $20.00. Senior citizen (55 and over) and student tickets are $17.00. Special rates are available for groups of ten or more.
In Baton Rouge, group and tour bus arrangements can be made by calling 225.281.0576. In New Orleans, call 504.459.9445. Ticket outlets are Community Book Center, located at 2523 Bayou Road, New Orleans, LA 70119 and Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA 70113. Tickets can also be purchased on line at www.atpno.org.
"FREEDOM SUMMER," chronicles the efforts of black and white students who come together to focus national attention on a civil rights crisis through the use of sit-ins, bus rides, marches and human sacrifice leading ultimately to Freedom Schools and voter registration drives aimed at Black Mississippian and those in other Southern states. The students involved were members of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), a student organization formed as the result of a small grant from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) and the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE). "Through visuals, freedom songs and stylized lighting and staging, several of the major events, including the 16th Street Baptist Church bombing, the Mississippi Summer Project, the Mississippi Freedom Democrats and the Selma Massacre, will be revisited on stage," says Ed Bishop. "Through the eyes of the young, we want today's audiences to experience how community activism, education and direct action can change lives and awaken a nation."
Spencer Howard, playwright, teaching artist, and a "Talented Theatre Teacher in East Baton Rouge Parish," is also a Founding Fellow of Louisiana A+ Schools which is a sponsored project of the George Rodriquez Foundation. He is also author of a book entitled "Theatre in the Classroom," He states that he wrote "FREEDOM SUMMER" as a way to inspire young people to address human rights and civil rights issues faced in their own communities. "FREEDOM SUMMER" tells the story of two youth, Angela and Martin, and how, at different points in their development, they join the Civil Rights Movement and become agents for change utilizing direct action, even though they see many of their peers, students leaders, community leaders and friends beaten, shot, jailed and killed. "I see the play as an opportunity to educate young people to the idea that their voices and positive actions matter and the self-realization that they have the power to make change happen. They are the people they have been waiting for," Howard says.
Keith Hart, Sr. is a music educator, trombonist, arranger, actor and set coach who was featured on the HBO television series "TREME," as Mr. Lecour, along with his students and the Band of Theophile Elementary School. He is a band director, an educational consultant and the program director of the New Orleans Jazz Institute's Saturday Music School. Mr. Hart says what drives him about "FREEDOM SUMMER" is "the powerful and engaging message which must be shared with today's young people." Mr. Hart established the KIPP Believe Music Program, where every student in the school learns an instrument and performs in the school band. He has fostered relationships as a mentor, teacher and collaborator, encouraging musical excellence with many programs in the city of New Orleans, including Loyola University. Through Keith's collaboration with American Theatre Project of New Orleans, portions of the proceeds from "FREEDOM SUMMER" will help support the KIPP Believe Music Program.
Select schools, including KIPP Believe, will be provided workshops to prepare young people for the events depicted and historic people portrayed on stage in the production. For workshop information call 225.281.0576.
The power of storytelling is evoked in the American Theatre Project production of "FREEDOM SUMMER." as the messages behind the stories are being told, during the 50th anniversary of the Mississippi Summer Project, better known as Freedom Summer. Along with music director Keith Hart, the core cast includes Morgan-Me'lyn Grant, Steven McRae, Curtis C. Jackson, Frederick Mead, India King, Karel Sloane-Boekbinder, Ian Lawrence, Kirk Bush, Maile Zox, David William, Brittani Johnson, Monique Domingue, and Denzel Johnson.
For more information, call Ed Bishop at 504.957.9283.