What happens when you ask six playwrights, six directors, and 18 actors to create six plays in 48 hours? That's what Harlem9's Obie-winning "48Hours in . . . ™ Harlem” sets to find out. The annual event brings together Black theatre artists to collaborate on interpretations of six Black plays within—you guessed it—48 hours. The time constraint gives the artists a sense of urgency but also provides an opportunity for tapping into visceral creative instincts.
Some of the artists who have previously taken on the challenge include Dominique Morisseau, Dyllon Burnside, Donja R. Love, J. Alphonse Nicholson, Jocelyn Bioh, Nicco Annan, and Tonya Pinkins. You can explore past seasons and artists here.
Harlem9 is a collaborative producing organization composed of a group of Black theater professionals from various backgrounds whose mission is to produce together, exploring the past, present, and future of Black culture and celebrating its rich and diverse history of storytelling.
The organization recently gave Playbill Instagram followers a glimpse into its community and initiatives. Enjoy the highlights here and get to know even more about the organization ibelow.
On how Harlem9 began.
During the fall of 2010, Founding Producer Sandra A. Daley-Sharif invited a group of Black producers to her home in Harlem. We gathered monthly around her dining room table and dreamed about what we’d like to create for our community. As producers, we wanted a name that represented a rich legacy and a prosperous future, and Harlem was where many of us lived, so we came up with Harlem9.
On the creation of “48Hours in . . . ™ Harlem”
“48Hours in ...™ Harlem” came about after many discussions. We decided that rather than do the “typical”—produce a well-made play by one playwright—we wanted to create an experience where we could serve more artists and lean into giving our artists opportunities to play and create. It's been our main event since 2011.
On the expansion of “48Hours in . . . ™”
We began collaborating with Pregones / PRTT in 2016 and have produced “48Hours in ...™ El Bronx” three times. In 2018, we won a Knight Arts Foundation Grant in partnership with Detroit Public Theatre and produced “48Hours in ...™ Detroit” in 2019. We also partnered with the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, for “48Hours in...™ Holy Ground” in 2019. We also began publishing our plays in 2016, and we now have four volumes of “48Hours in ...™ Harlem” and one volume of “48Hours in ...™ El Bronx.” All of our anthologies are available on Amazon.
On what artists hopefully gain by working with them.
To feel the beauty and passion and excitement of working with Black producers. The incomparable experience of working with 30 artists of color, with a shared understanding, and not having to explain yourself.
On a memorable moment from their inaugural year.
Our inaugural year, there was a line of people down the street, in front of Harlem School of the Arts on St. Nicholas Avenue in Harlem, in the rain, waiting to get in.
On upcoming projects.
Our 10th annual “48Hours in...™ Harlem” Digital Edition, will stream August 20–24 at harlem9.veeps.com.
Founding leadership included Spencer Scott Barros, Erin Cherry, Sandra A. Daley-Sharif, Bryan E. Glover, Deborah Goodwin, Garlia Cornelia Jones, Eric Lockley, Jonathan McCrory, Shaun Neblett, and Erin Washington.
Current leadership includes Spencer Scott Barros, Sandra A. Daley-Sharif, Bryan E. Glover, Garlia Cornelia Jones, Eric Lockley, and Jonathan McCrory.