Wednesday, July 8, 2020

JCTC Explores Issues of Race, Oppression & Injustice with New Online Series

Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents

Our Times: Uprising
A virtual reading series of plays, poetry & other writings by Black American Authors

WHEN: Beginning on Monday, July 13, for three weeks on consecutive Mondays
the easiest way is to visit the Our Times: Uprising Event Page on Facebook and follow the instructions. The program uses Zoom Meeting technology.
ADMISSION: free to the public, no subscription fee or registration. Everyone is invited to watch, listen and join in the conversation. For updates and additional information, please visit JCTC’s Facebook page and its website,

The series provides an original overview of African American history and culture while exploring issues of race, oppression and injustice for contemporary audiences.

“The Our Times: Uprising series features voices that have been ignored too long,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. “As a theater company, social justice has always been in our mission, and it’s our obligation to respond to the issues of today by speaking truth to power through stories. With what is happening now in America, we felt that one of the most important things we could do was to listen to those stories.”

Our Time: Uprising­ is a compelling mix of genres with subject matter both topical and historical. The series presents rehearsed readings by professional actors, followed by an interactive discussion highlighted by an audience Q&A.

La Race (La Raz) (July 13/6pm) Gentrification has come to The Rockaways in Queens and Maxine finds herself jobless and searching. After being pushed into running for city council by her closest friend AJ, Maxine is challenged to balance her sense of self, love and what is right in this funny yet gripping new work. Written by Bleu Beckford Burrell; Directed by Nicolette Lynch

A Collection of Poems (July 20/ 6pm) An evening of poetry curated by Count Stovall, Nicolette Lynch, Marie Thomas and Perri Gaffney. From Shakespeare to Langston Hughes, this evenings of select readings by theatre professionals brings some beauty and heart to our uncertain times.

Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years (July 27th/ 6pm) The warm, feisty & sharp-witted Delany sisters speak their mind in a play that is both vital historical record and a moving portrait of two remarkable women who continued to love, laugh, and embrace life after over a hundred years of living side by side. Their sharp memories show us the post-Reconstruction South and Booker T. Washington; Harlem's Golden Age and Langston Hughes, W.E.B. Du Bois, and Paul Robeson. Bessie breaks barriers to become a dentist; Sadie quietly integrates the New York City system as a high school teacher. Written by Emily Mann, their extraordinary story makes an important contribution to our nation's heritage—and an indelible impression on our lives.

The series was curated by Mark Cirnigliaro, a theater director with credits on both sides of the Hudson. The series opener, La Race (La Raz) sets the topical tone by addressing issues relevant to our current era. This contemporary play depicts heated City Council election battle over the divisive issue of gentrification. “This is a beautifully executed play, one of a series of works, written by Bley Beckford-Burrell, is fantastic playwright who has a unique way of exploring the nuances and challenges of the black experience in America,” said Cirnigliaro,

Cirnigliaro worked with Broadway theater veteran and Montclair resident Count Stovall, who was instrumental in shaping the relevance of each episode to address the complex racial issues of today.

“Count felt that something comprehensive in its scope and viewpoint from the black woman perspective would give us some truth and gravitas to the our current time through the lens of wonderfully drawn, beautiful characters full of life and love,” Cirnigliaro explained. “The poetry readings are an extension of that idea. This could be love of another person, love of a people, a culture, but love is the common driving force. This mean meant presenting works by black authors, lifting up black voices for our local community and providing something more intangibly magical for people to experience.”

Funding for Our Times: Uprising was made possible by generous support from the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Our Times: Uprising was also made possible through the generosity of Ben LoPiccolo Development Group, JCTC’s Board of Directors, private donors and local Jersey City businesses.

Our Times: Uprising is part of Stories of Greenville , the first arts project to be part of the I Love Greenville Community Plan, a neighborhood improvement initiative created by the Greenville Community Partnership (GCP) and funded by the statewide Neighborhood Revitalization Tax Credit (NRTC) Program.