Smoking Out the Beehive Celebrates Historic African American Poets

Scot Reese

To University of Maryland students, Scot Reese is known as an outgoing and well-loved professor from the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies. But to a national audience, he is better known as a prominent actor and director of Black Theatre, appearing in theatres from LA to New York, and locally at the Kennedy Center and Arena Stage.

His recent appearance at the National Portrait Gallery in Smoking Out the Beehive helped kick off Black History Month with a tribute to six African American poets. Actors portraying Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Claude McKay, Audre Lord, Amiri Baraka and Yusef Komun-yakaa read poetry from the Harlem Renaissance, civil rights and Vietnam War eras as part of the Gallery’s Cultures in Motion performing arts series.

The Cultures in Motion series is designed to educate, entertain and promote mutual understanding of the diverse cultures that make up both the National Portrait Gallery collection and the mosaic of American heritage. The series uses the medium of portrayal to interpret the lives of the sitters through theater, music and the literary and visual arts.

“It was a privilege to embody the spirit of these prominent African American poets during Black History Month,” said Reese. “They chronicled several of the most critical eras in U.S. history, and Smoking Out the Beehive allowed us to bring them to life for our audiences.”

At UMD’s School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies, Reese has directed several student productions dealing with African American culture, including Am I Black Enough Yet and In the Red and Brown Water that won Best University Production as part of DCMetroTheaterArts “Best of 2012” Theatre Arts Honors.