For 30 years now, Plowshares Theatre Company has been a dynamic voice in metro Detroit. A theatre that offers a truly honest and unflinching experience with entertaining and engaging productions. This has helped make it a favorite among discerning patrons. Using the rich history and traditions that are the African American experience we have told stories that no one else would. Along the way, we have developed a reputation as an urban theatre with a distinctly Detroit style. In 2019 we are looking back at our accomplishments over the last those thirty years and bringing forward the lessons learned as we reach forward towards the future.

That is why we have chosen a slate of plays and projects that we think will meet this important cultural moment.

N by Adrienne Earle Pender

Eugene O’Neill’s groundbreaking 1920 play, The Emperor Jones, was the first Broadway drama that featured an African-American actor in the lead role. Charles S. Gilpin’s portrayal of Emperor Brutus Jones was hailed as “revelatory.” He was named one of the finest actors of the age. Gilpin became the darling of the theater world. But by 1926, O’Neill was a legend and Gilpin was lost to history. N explores the challenging relationship between Gilpin and O’Neill and how it ultimately hinged on one word; a word that lifted one of them to the heights of American theater, and destroyed the other.

Roost by Lee Edward Colston II

The backdrop is a seedy bar where the elements of a tormented past come together. Six-year-old Derek Bird and his sister are orphaned when his mother is arrested for the murder of his father. After a departure, he returns ten years later to his sister, now a successful lawyer desperately trying to sever her connection from her past. In anticipation of his mother’s release from prison, Derek is forced to wrestle with the demons that tore his life apart and exposes the terrible secret behind his father’s death.

Gem of the Ocean by August Wilson

Set in 1904, August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean begins on the eve of Aunt Esther’s 287th birthday. When Citizen Barlow comes to her Pittsburgh’s Hill District home seeking asylum, she sets him off on a spiritual journey to find a city in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Gem of the Ocean is the ninth work in Wilson’s ten-play cycle that has recorded the American Black experience and helped to define generations.

The Plowshares Artists’ Salon Series

To build a broader audience for Black Theatre this year we begun a new community outreach series, The Plowshares Artists’ Salon – a comfortable gathering for artists and patrons to share their thoughts, reflections and ideas through a focused discussion on topics of interest to Detroit and its creative community. Salons are moderated by Plowshares ensemble members who will help guide the conversation. Drinks and refreshments create a casual atmosphere, where ideas can flow and the mind can be inspired.

New Griots Play Festival

Since 1994, Plowshares has been soliciting and developing new plays by African-American writers from across the nation and promote these scripts to professional, community and college theatres following the development process.

The goal of New Griots is to significantly enhance the quality and number of African American plays produced. 

….and coming later in 2020?

July 24 – 27, 2020 – Plowshares Theatre Company, along with Wayne State University’s Theatre and Dance Department, hosts the Black Theatre Network National Conference, an international convention celebrating the best of Black Theatre comes to Detroit.

Fall 2020 – The World Premiere of Hastings Street (working title), our new musical set in Detroit’s Black Bottom and Paradise Valley of the late 1940s.

Even though we recognize a far greater reason to celebrate in 2019. That year marks the 400th Anniversary of the first 20 Africans coming ashore at the British colony in Jamestown, Virginia. In spite of how we came here or the challenges we have endured since being here, we see this as a special moment to both reflect back upon the legacy of those first Africans in America and the succeeding generations they brought forth. In the spirit of Sankofa, we are reaching back to bring forward. We believe it is our mission to tell the African-American story, unfiltered and uncompromised. It’s critical at this moment that we reflect on those vital experiences and memories from the past that may best help inform the scope and direction of our future.

As poet Maya Angelou said “bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope” of those that came before us. In 2019, the 30th Anniversary Season will be dedicated to their memory.

Plowshares could not ignore the significance of this dual milestone. It is a moment of great humility and cultural importance. Therefore, we are planning a celebration worthy of our proud past and inspiring future. “We Are The Dream and The Hope” Celebration will reflect over the next 16-months beginning in October 2019. We invite you to join us as we write a new chapter for our company and our community.

Thank you,

Click here for our new video “Lift Every Voice.” 

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