Listen to the new play about painter Archibald Motley from the Icons of Classic Harlem Theater series

The radio drama series, all commissioned from playwrights of color, spotlights characters from the Harlem Renaissance.

To celebrate Black History Month, The Classical Theater of Harlem (CTH), Broadway Podcast Network and Playbill are teaming up to publish ICONS: Harlem Renaissance in motion, a series of half-hour radio dramas written by playwrights of color, each focusing on a Harlem Renaissance figure. The podcasts are produced by CTH and Venus Radio Theater.

The Harlem Renaissance was a time of great artistic and cultural flourishing for black artists in the New York community in the 1920s and 1930s. From writers, painters, and musicians to activists and philosophers, the well-known pioneers of the Renaissance of Harlem include Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, James Van Der Zee, Duke Ellington, WEB Du Bois and Marcus Garvey. For the collection of plays, CTH commissioned Harlem-based playwrights to create monologues performed by Harlem-based actors, honoring the largely unrecognized voices of fascinating characters, especially women, who were integral to the movement.

Curated by CTH Director of Literary Programs and Playwright Shawn René Graham and Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence Betty Shamieh, the series originally premiered in 2021 for Women’s History Month and highlighted light actress Nina Mae McKinney, blues singer Gladys Bentley, writers May Miller and Angelina Weld Grimké, and fictional Mattie Mae, an amalgam of black women who fled the South during the Great Migration for new economic futures and cultural. These episodes will air throughout the month on BPN, or click the links to listen on Playbill.

Two new podcasts have been included for this year’s History Month release: Marcus Scott’s Archibald Motley Profile (available Feb. 7 on Broadway Podcast Network) and Michael Bradford’s article on Jacob Lawrence (available February 21). Both Motley and Lawrence were painters who captured contemporary Harlem life on canvas.

Listen to the latest episode below on Archibald Motley, as he floats between time and space, past and present, from Harlem to Paris, as he examines his life. The monologue is performed by Reynaldo Piniella, who recently made his Broadway debut with mind problem.

Under the direction of Artistic Director Producer Ty Jones, Classical Theater of Harlem provides theater-based theater productions and educational and literary programs at little or no cost to underserved communities in Harlem and beyond, directly benefiting more 18,000 people each year.

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