|The Black Arts Company: Drama (BAC Drama) is a student-managed theatre experience dedicated to celebrating and exploring the cultural experiences of people from the African Diaspora through performance. No matter where African people have been transplanted across the globe, they have taken with them their stories, songs, dances, and spirits. Our company primarily seeks to present to the greater Princeton community a rich and transformative tapestry of African-American, pan-African, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-Latino life experiences by producing plays written by people of color from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and the mother continent of Africa.
The Black Arts Company: Drama consists of an acting troupe and a production management organization that work in tandem to fulfill our company’s creative mission. Each year, the Black Arts Company: Drama produces a season of showcases, full productions, and/or staged readings based upon decisions made by the Executive Board from the previous year. Through these performances we hope to accomplish the following objectives:
- Expand creative opportunities for theater artists of color within the Princeton University community.
- Highlight and celebrate the writing achievements of playwrights of color, including writers from the United States, Canada, Europe, Latin America, the Caribbean Islands, and the mother continent of Africa.
- Expand the artistic and cultural influence of Black theatre within the greater Princeton community by working with professional theatre institutions, academic programs and departments on Princeton University’s campus, churches, libraries, schools, and community centers within Princeton, New Jersey.
The Black Arts Company: Drama was founded in 1995 as an outgrowth of the Black Arts Company, a performing arts umbrella organization dedicated to exploring the theatrical and chorographical contributions of people of color to world arts. Since that time, the Black Arts Company has grown and expanded into two both separate organizations: The Black Arts Company: Dance, and the Black Arts Company: Drama. Since its creative and administrative expansion, the Black Arts Company: Drama has become a creative safe haven and champion for the vibrant presence and involvement of thespians of color within Princeton University’s theatre arts community.
During its Renaissance Season (2004 – 2005), the Black Arts Company: Drama experienced an artistic rebirth under the direction of Lileana Blain-Cruz (Class of 2006). Blain-Cruz ushered in a separation of administration between the Black Arts Company: Dance and the Black Arts Company: Drama. She effectively cultivated a model for our company by separating tasks into production and technical administration and those interested in onstage performance. With our new administration and artistic performers in place, Blain-Cruz presented an excerpt in the fall of 2004 from Ntozake Shange’s for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf. This performance was met with such acclaim that Blain-Cruz, a major in English and a Program in Theatre Certificate holder, remounted Shange’s play as a senior thesis production that featured the talents of many actors and theatre administrators who were active participants in the Black Arts Company: Drama. The Company was now revived.
Our current Artistic Director, Roger Q. Mason (class of 2008) worked as an assistant to Lileana Blain-Cruz during the renaissance process, and has moved forward to widen the presence and exposure of the Black Arts Company: Drama on Princeton University’s campus and within the greater Princeton community. Under Mason’s administration, the Company has forged close, working alliances with professional regional theatres, in particular the Tony-award winning McCarter Theatre, Princeton University’s Office of the Vice President of Student Life, the Program in African American Studies at Princeton University, the Carl A. Fields Center for Cultural Understanding, and scores of other organizations on and off-campus. Mason also co-produced and directed the Black Arts Company: Drama’s critically and commercially acclaimed production of August Wilson’s Fences during the winter of 2006. The performance was a heart-felt tribute to the legendary playwright who passed months prior. After the production’s run, Professor Michael Cadden, who had worked with Wilson when he was associated with the Yale School of Drama, Professor Cornel West, Professor Eddie Glaude, and Mason lectured on the significance of Wilson’s work and his contributions to American Theatre. The Black Arts Company: Drama continues to serve as a vibrant theatrical force and black cultural ambassador to the greater Princeton community.