Black Lives Matter on Stage. Relevant Theater to Watch Online

Below an alphabetical list of theater by and about African Americans that is available online now (and coming soon), much of it directly relevant to the Black Lives Matter movement, all of it well-timed.

(Broadway Black announced nominations for its first-ever Antonyo Awards to celebrate Black Broadway and Off-Broadway, with awards at a star-studded ceremony on June 19.  Voting is open to the public.)

Theater online now

Antigone in Ferguson – the production at Harlem Stage of Theater of War adaptation of Sophocles’ 2,500-year-old tragedy, first created in response to the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri.Samira Wiley, Chris Noth, Tamara Tunie and a gospel chorus. This PBS documentary incorporates scenes from the show and interviews with the artists involved.

 Black Light
A recording of a show that I saw at Joe’s Pub in 2018. (My review) in which Daniel Alexander Jones portrays Jomama Jones, less a character than an alter-ego, in this show that on the surface seems like a cabaret act, but is also an act of healing and an act of warning in these turbulent times, guided by the character’s (and creator’s) experience of being black.

Kill Move Paradise
Wilma Theater
Available through June 21
contribution required
A recording of the 2018 Philadelphia production of James IJames’ play about four black men who find themselves stuck in a cosmic waiting room in the afterlife, each of them a victim of violence. Tickets benefit Black Lives Matter Philly.

Notes from the Field
In Anna Deavere Smith’s acclaimed one-woman show, which I saw Off-Broadway in 2016, she portrays 17 disparate characters with her usual dazzling virtuosity in what amounts to a somewhat diffuse argument that in the United States there is a school-to-prison “pipeline” for poor people and people of color. The show was adapted into this film in 2018.

Pass Over
Amazon Prime
Spike Lee’s film of Antoinette Nwandu’s play that riffs on Waiting for Godot about a pair of Black men rapping on a street corner

The suscription service continues to offer for free this Lincoln Center production of Dominique Morisseau’s play about a schoolteacher (Karen Pittman) whose son (Namir Smallwood) got into a scuffle with a teacher at his boarding school and is in danger of being expelled, and arrested. As I wrote in my review in 2017, Morisseau masterfully upends the tired assumptions that might attach to such a drama, in a play that is not just smart and engaging; it is also the most literate of any I’d seen that year.

Matrix Theatre Company of Los Angeles presents a video of Geraldine Inoa’s play. My review of the 2018 production at the Flea began:
Police in the United States shot and killed 36 unarmed black men in 2015; 18 in 2016; 19 in 2017, and 12 so far in 2018, according to the Washington Post.

In “Scraps,” Geraldine Inoa, making a memorable professional playwriting debut, imagines the deep and lasting after-effects on the people left behind when police kill somebody – telling the survivors’ stories through a theatrical filter that goes from lyrical to naturalistic to surreal.

Viral Monologues: Fists Up/Underlying Conditions
24 Hour Monologues
Launches at 6 p.m tonight., unfolds every 15 minutes
Available for four days
Features black artists to benefit Communities United For Police Reform. This week’s performers include Kara Young, Susan Heyward, Stephanie Berry, Keith Arthur Bolden, Cherise Boothe, Rosalyn Coleman, Nina Domingue Glover, Benton Greene, Angela Lewis, Craig Scott, Elijah Smith, Salena Steward and Tamara Williams. Original monologues will be written by Zakkiyah Alexander, Dennis A. Allen II, Christina Anderson, Beresford Bennett, Amina Henry, Angie Bridgette Jones, Jaymes Jorsling, Shawn Randall, Monique A. Robinson, Stacey Rose, Nikkole Salter, Levy Lee Simon and Craig T. Williams.


Lets Stay In Together
Apollo Theater
A star-studded concert features Dionne Warwick, Doug E. Fresh “Captain” Kirk Douglas of The Roots, Vernon Reid, Ziggy Marley and many more.

Coming June 12

The Bacchae
Classical Theatre of Harlem
Launches 8 p.m. 24-hour streaming period
Available through June 26
The streaming of last year’s staging of Euripides tragedy in a park in Harlem, which I saw and loved. As I wrote in my review: It would be hard to argue that it brings home the full force or horror that is the usual province of Ancient Greek tragedy. But what is a better tribute to the play’s principal character Dionysus, the god of ecstasy, wine…and theater, than a theatrical production with such intoxicating singing, dancing and design.

One in two
Pride Plays
Donja R. Love’s portrait of what it means to be black and queer in America today. Part of a series that will be live-streamed on a page of Playbill.

Twilight Los Angeles
Anna Deavere Smith’s unflinching look at the fallout from the 1992 Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King trial verdict

Some relevant movies on Amazon Prime


Ava DuVernay’s feature film about Martin Luther King Jr.’s organization of the Selma to Montgomery march to push President Lyndon Johnson to introduce legislation guaranteeing voting rights for African Americans.

Netflix Black Lives Matter Collection


Author: New York Theater

Jonathan Mandell is a 3rd generation NYC journalist, who sees shows, reads plays, writes reviews and sometimes talks with people.

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