Word S4 E1: Stages & Screens

By Tom Maxedon
Published: Tuesday, September 1, 2020 - 5:05am

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Black Theatre Troupe
Helen K. Mason founded Black Theatre Troupe in 1970 as a response to racial unrest across the country. She was a Phoenix Parks and Recreation supervisor at the time with no previous background in theater.

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So, we bring you Episode 1 of Season 4.

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Black Theatre Troupe
Charles St. Clair (from left), former artistic director; Brenda Williams; and David Hemphill, current executive director of Black Theatre Troupe, in 1991.

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And now, on with the podcast ...

We begin this season with the first of three returning guests, David Hemphill, executive director of Black Theatre Troupe in Phoenix.

It’s the 50th Anniversary of the legendary company founded by Helen K. Mason in 1970. At the time, she was a City of Phoenix Parks & Recreation supervisor with no experience in theatre. 

How are they coping amidst COVID-19 and what has to change in live theatre during a pandemic for performers AND audience members to stay safe?

Plus, Arizona Theatre Company (ATC) has been staving off “dark stages” by going digital for free to at-home audiences. Recently the theatre offered an online performance of "Alma," by Benjamin Benne who won the 2019 National Latinx Playwriting Award.

Chanel Bragg
Chanel Bragg is assistant artistic director for Arizona Theatre Company. She conducted our interview from her car on Aug. 15, 2020.

Chanel Bragg, associate artistic director of the company, returns to our podcast after a 2019 appearance to talk about keeping the stage lit in 2020 and beyond.

Also, the 2020 National Latinx Playwriting Award was announced recently by ATC. Third year Boston University graduate student Eliana Pipes has won for her play, "Dream Hou$e" that follows two LatinX sisters who are selling their family home in a gentrifying neighborhood on a reality TV show and that causes tension as the plot develops.

Finally, Valley indie filmmaker and screenwriter Robert Conway reunites with us after a 2019 appearance to talk about the production of his new movie, “Skinwalker,” due out in 2021. It's a combo of the western and horror genres inspired by the coronavirus pandemic.

We explore the challenges of shooting a film during a pandemic and the need to get out of the house and make something creative.

Portions of “Word” have been nominated for an Edward R. Murrow award.

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