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Naptown African American Theatre Collective talks legacy and future of Black theatre artists

Black Theater Collective promotes equity

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Naptown African American Theatre Collective is breaking new ground in Indianapolis by establishing the city’s first Black Equity Theatre.

The organization aims to create an equitable space where artists can work, share, celebrate, and craft unforgettable moments through storytelling that authentically reflects the African American diaspora and community.

Founder and CEO Lakesha Lorene stopped by WISH-TV’s Daybreak on Tuesday to chat with News 8’s Jeremy Jenkins about the organization’s goals and legacy.

“We needed to have a space where we could tell more stories throughout the year where we could employ people that usually don’t get that opportunities to do stories on stage for professional theater and also job creation. So we are giving back to the creative economy by providing these spaces for just professional productions,” Lorene said.

The NAATC is dedicated to fostering an environment where Black theatre professionals can thrive. Their mission is to produce art that speaks to the humanity, beauty, and power of Black stories, providing a platform that celebrates and elevates these narratives.

Lorene says by establishing an equity house, the NAATC aims to support Black-owned, Black-led, and Black-operated theatrical productions, not only in Indianapolis but also on a broader scale.

The organization seeks to develop a robust ecosystem of support and resources for Black theatre. This includes initiatives focused on educating, equipping, and empowering artists and arts professionals through:

  • Training: Providing comprehensive training programs to hone the skills of emerging and established artists.
  • Professional Development: Offering opportunities for career advancement and growth within the theatre industry.
  • Community Engagement: Fostering connections between artists and the community to promote cultural understanding and appreciation.

The NAATC is gearing up for several key events and opportunities for involvement:

  • General Auditions: Scheduled for June 3 and 4 at the Phoenix Theatre Cultural Centre. These auditions are an open call for artists looking to be part of the Collective’s upcoming productions.
  • Pre-Sale Tickets: Available now for the following shows:
    • “Judy’s Life’s Work” by Loy A. Webb: A compelling narrative that delves into the complexities of life and legacy.
    • “Stew” by Zora Howard: A powerful play that explores family, tradition, and resilience.

The NAATC’s efforts are driven by a passionate commitment to creating a theatre landscape that is inclusive and reflective of the diverse stories within the African American community.

Lorene says that by providing opportunities for training, professional development, and community engagement, the Collective aims to empower Black artists and ensure their voices are heard.

“The whole vision is to bring, Black Excellence, Black Broadway here. We already have a lot of beautiful black theaters here that I’ve honored on the website but we’ve never had a Black equity theater. So we’re the first,” Lorene said.

For more information on the Naptown African American Theatre Collective and to sign up for auditions or purchase tickets, click here.