Oldest African American theater in Southwest wows Valley crowds

Rachel Cole
3 Min Read

The Black Theatre Troupe will be performing Storyville from March 22 to April 7 at the Helen K. Mason Performing Arts Center.

PHOENIX — At 54 years young, the oldest African American theater in the Southwest is “wowing” Valley crowds with their prideful performances of “Storyville: A New Orleans Jazz Musical.” 

The Black Theatre Troupe will be performing “Storyville” from March 22 to April 7. “Storyville” gives audience members a look into the birthplace of jazz, the legalized vice district of New Orleans known as Storyville, and includes 17 cast members and a nine-piece band. 

BTT was founded in 1970 by Helen Katherine Mason. Mason was an official with the City of Phoenix Parks and Recreation Department and a community activist who understood the power and importance of the Black Arts Movement, according to the BTT website. 

Executive Director David Hemphill the theatre has seen constant growth over the years and hopes that will continue.

“I hope that we continue to grow and serve the same purpose we’ve been serving all along and keeping the community enlightened as a source of not only entertainment but of education,” Hemphill said.

Director and Choreographer Patdro Harris said BTT has always been inclusive, not exclusive. 

“It’s a wonderful place for people to be able to see themselves and I think everybody needs that,” Harris said. “You can come to a place where you’re safe and comfortable and can tell stories from your point of view. There’s nothing like being the hero of your own story.”

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Rachel Cole , www.12news.com
KPNX Vivrr Local Feed: events , 2024-03-21 01:58:06
Categories: community,news,valley,local,arts,entertainment,events,home

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