SARASOTA, FL – The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe has recently received a $10,000 Arts Work award from the National Endowment for the Arts to help underwrite its 2018 production of “The Mountaintop,” a fictional account of the last night of Dr. Martin Luther King’s life. The funds will also be used to underwrite costs of community outreach activities related to the play.
WBTT will take a four-pronged approach to the community outreach activities. First, there will be two free performances of “The Mountaintop” for low-income residents, one of which will be specifically for school-aged children. Next, WBTT will hold a free “Voices” community discussion about the play and Dr. King’s leadership in the civil rights movement. Third, WBTT will incorporate readings from “The Mountaintop” in a new Jazzlinks curriculum for area high school students that will focus on the civil rights movement. Finally, “The Mountaintop” and Dr. King’s legacy will be tied into WBTT’s 2018 summer musical intensive theatre program, Stage of Discovery.
“WBTT is thrilled to receive this highly competitive award from the NEA. Since this is the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s death, we wanted to acknowledge his impact on our society by producing this powerful play and expanding opportunities for the community to learn about Dr. King. As the only Black theatre company on Florida’s west coast, no other arts group is better suited to honor his memory in this meaningful way,” states Julie Leach, WBTT’s executive director
“The arts reflect the vision, energy, and talent of America’s artists and arts organizations,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “The National Endowment for the Arts is proud to support organizations such as the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe in serving their communities by providing excellent and accessible arts experiences.”
“The Mountaintop,” a WBTT mainstage production, will run from January 10 through February 17, 2018. The title refers to King’s final public speech, “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” delivered on April 3, 1968, to a church crowd in Memphis, Tenn. Although he was speaking to the city’s sanitation workers about their strike for higher pay and better working conditions, he also went beyond those topics to address his own mortality. The play, which takes place in a motel room immediately after the famous speech, fictionalizes the last night of Dr. King’s life.
To join the Twitter conversation about this announcement, please use #NEASpring17. For more information on projects included in the NEA grant announcement, go to arts.gov.
For more about WBTT, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org.
About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe:
The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505.