Rainbow Coalition unites three theater companies to expose racism

Braata Theatre Production Artistic Director, Karl O'Brian Williams.
Braata Productions

In response to upheavals stemming from current events a coalition of three theater companies recently launched a five-week series in July designed to address issues related to racism and oppression.

Queens based Braata Productions and Conch Shell Production with Hawaii’s Kumu Kahua Theater united to collaborate Reset Theater Coalition for an alliance to stage virtual online performances.

The initiative features a diverse assembly representing playwrights of African, Caribbean, Native American, Latin American, Central American Asian, European, Indian, Middle Eastern and Polynesian descent.

“In unity there is strength,” Magaly Colimon-Christopher, founder and artistic director of Conch Shell Productions said.

“As I watched the video of George Floyd slowly painfully murdered in broad daylight by a white officer, and witnessed how the other officers ignored both his pleas and those of witnesses, I knew I needed to bring a community of POC (people of color) theaters together to uplift the oppressed and make sure the silenced and ignored would be heard. My hope is that by bringing our audiences together to attend our productions and participate in post-performance discussions we will encourage dialogue and unification of diverse communities that will lead to social and political reform.”

To execute their goal each of the three coalesced to showcase five unique new works utilizing short scenes and monologues written and performed to represent voices of diversity.

In early June, the rainbow coalition tasked writers with a 48-hour challenge to compose five-minute monologues and /or 10-minute scenes using specific themes.

They included — Eye of the storm; Breath / Breathing, Being human when enduring inhumane circumstances, Micro-aggression, Disruption of norms and Privileges of the past becoming pain of the present.

Each company solicited, collected, cast and rehearsed script entries from their local community artists.

Throughout the month, each night’s performance will deliver live world premieres streamed via the Coalition’s YouTube channel and each theater’s Facebook pages.

The 30-40 minute showcases will be followed by a moderated Q&A session with thespians.

The series started last Friday with:

“Blindfolded,” by Jason Ellis, directed by Sophiyaa Nayar

“Six by Jeannie Barroga,” directed by Wil Kahele

“Hae Upside Down” by Eric Stack, directed by Wil Kahele

“The Dark-Skinned Kid Who Hopped the Turnstile” by Tylie R. Shider, directed by Magaly Colimon-Christopher.

This Friday at 8 pm — “What If…?” by Cynthia Grace Robinson, directed by Elizabeth Van Dyke.

“March By June” by Juan Ramirez, Jr., directed by Ayvaunn Penn.

“The Signs of Friendship” Karl O’Brian Williams, directed by Keenan Charles (BMCC Alum)

“I Can’t Breathe” by Marion Lyman-Mersereau, directed by Kiki Rivera and Donna Blanchard.

“Black & Brown Babies Kiki Rivera,” directed by Kiki Rivera and Donna Blanchard.

The Reset Coalition Series Continues the following Friday at 8 pm –

“Pitch” by Mateo Moreno, directed by Antonio Minino.

“The Good Cop” by Christin Eve Cato, directed by Nigel Semaj.

“Tissues for Issues” by Jovaun Black, directed by Damian Jöel.

“Dad and Son” by Sean Choo, directed by Junior Tesoro.

On 7/24 at 8 pm —

“Shelter in Place” written and directed by Regina Taylor.

“0.25” by Phanesia Pharel, directed by Regina Taylor.

“Chi Can’t Breathe” by Alvin Eng, directed by Tanya Taylor.

“I Cannot …” by Nyanda Cammock, directed by Teisha Duncan.

“Origami” by Sean Choo, directed by Hannah and Anna Rose II-Epstein.

“Fa’aliga” by Ren Nansen, directed by Hannah and Anna Rose II-Epstein.

The last episodes slated for 7/31 begins at 8pm —

“Ants and Garlic” by Onyekachi Iwu, directed by Yvette Ganier.

“Amerikka” by Jevone Andy, directed by Mijanne Webster.

“Thanks” by Kimiye Everard, directed by Jim Aina.

“Girl’s Dance” by Kiki Rivera, directed by Kiki Rivera and Do“nna Blanchard.

“The goal of this initiative is to restore society’s sense of humanity,” the coalition said. “Not to solve racism or end grief for those lost, but to continue a productive conversation in this space, and in this moment.”

More from Around NYC

>