First Annual UMD Black Theatre Symposium to Galvanize DC’s Black Theatre Community on Saturday, March 1

Thursday, February 20, 2014

CONTACT: Missy McTamney

College Park, MD — Performers, playwrights, designers and scholars from across the Washington region will converge at the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center for a day-long dialogue intended to challenge assumptions about race and the future of Black theatre on Saturday, March 1, 2014.  Hosted by the University of Maryland School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the African Continuum Theatre Company, the First Annual Black Theatre Symposium will explore the topic through panel discussions, workshops and performances and is open to anyone interested in Black theatre.

The Symposium is organized by Scot Reese, professor of theatre performance in TDPS and Thembi Duncan, Artistic Director of the African Continuum Theatre Company. The event will culminate with a series of short performances by the participating universities to showcase each school’s Black theatre experience. 

About the Symposium

Provocative questions about Black theatre in our culture, its dominant voices and its role in the 21st century will be explored.  Topics range from musical theatre to business and branding.    Among the local higher learning institutions participating in the program are George Washington University, Howard University, The American University, Georgetown University and Montgomery College.  A complete list of the Symposium’s sessions can be found here.

“This is one of the first times in my memory the community of Black theatre artists in DC has truly united its creative talent in a single space,” said Reese.  “The Symposium is our chance to examine the gamut of Black theatre in this region and define its direction.”

About Scot Reese

Scot Reese is Head of Theatre Performance at the University of Maryland.  His focus is Black theatre, directing and musical theatre, and his theater credits include productions from Los Angeles to New York such as Bells are Ringing, Purlie, and the world premiere of Blues Journey at the Kennedy Center.  In his role at UMD, Reese has directed such Black theatre performances as Am I Black Enough Yet?, In the Red and Brown Water and recently, African Continuum Theatre Company's benefit cabaret "J's Jook Joint," a modern-day twist on the historical "jook joint" experience.

About Thembi Duncan

Thembi Duncan is an actress, playwright and director who served as lead teaching artist at Ford's Theatre for the past four years.  A 15-year veteran of the DC theater scene, Duncan was named producing artistic director of the Washington-based African Continuum Theatre Company last fall.

Duncan's focus at the African Continuum Theatre is on producing high-quality theatre that highlights the range of African-American voices.  She also plans to develop strong education programming. 

Duncan is a 2009 graduate of UMD who earned her BA in Theatre summa cum laude.

Registration is $35 (lunch is included) and is free for students.  More ticket information can be found here.


Located on the University of Maryland campus and a part of the College of Arts and Humanities, Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is a premier presenting arts venue and collaborative laboratory shared by the School of Music (SOM), the School of Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (TDPS) and the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. The Center made its debut in 2001 and has grown into a national model for campus performing arts centers, presenting performances and programs by visiting artists as well as by students and faculty of SOM and TDPS in an environment of creative learning, exploration and growth. The Center remains active in the larger university community through its innovative partnerships and extraordinary experiences.

The Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center is supported by a grant from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. An agency of the Department of Business & Economic Development, the MSAC provides financial support and technical assistance to nonprofit organizations, units of government, colleges and universities for arts activities. Funding for the Maryland State Arts Council is also provided by the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency.