SARASOTA, FL – Earlier this year, Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) was thrilled to be featured on an episode of WEDU PBS’ “Arts Plus” program; this segment received a 2020 Suncoast Regional Emmy nomination from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. This month, WBTT will be featured in an hour-long documentary on WEDU/WEDQ, titled “This Light of Mine, The Making of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe.”
The program, which will premiere on December 17 and be shown five times in December, will feature interviews with Nate Jacobs, the founder and artistic director of WBTT, and many of the people who have been part of the troupe’s story over the past two decades. It will also include exciting show footage.
In 1999, actor and playwright Nate Jacobs founded the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe, establishing a unique dramatic company to present and explore the Black experience. His dream has become a cultural tour de force for Sarasota’s performing arts community.
After 20 years of challenges and hard-won triumphs, WBTT experienced one of its toughest years yet in 2020. The killing of George Floyd ignited a national reckoning on race, and the COVID-19 pandemic forced theatres to go dark. The documentary will show how – just as its resilient spirit has carried the troupe across previous hardships – WBTT has reimagined ways to stage its performances and fulfill its mission to promote inclusion and diversity in the arts. As a new generation of artists comes onboard, the troupe is also finding successful approaches to address racism and lift others up through opportunity, mentorship and outreach.
The documentary will be aired on the following days: December 17, 9 p.m. (WEDU); December 18, 10 p.m. (WEDQ); December 20, 2 p.m. (WEDU); December 21, 9 p.m. (WEDQ); and December 28, 11 p.m. (WEDU). Following the December 20 showing, at 3 p.m., WBTT will host a free Zoom panel discussion featuring Jacobs and WEDU editor Danny Bruno as well as a representative from documentary sponsor Community Foundation of Sarasota County.
“From a high in January and with all of our expectations for bigger, brighter things to come, much of this year has been incredibly difficult. Like our arts colleagues throughout the community and country, we’ve had to keep pivoting as the pandemic threw roadblock after roadblock in our path,” said Jacobs. “But, as this documentary will show, the WBTT can-do spirit will not be dampened. We are so grateful to the funders of this documentary and hope the community will be proud to consider WBTT a gem in Sarasota’s arts crown.”
“This Light of Mine, The Making of Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe” is produced by WEDU PBS in partnership with the Community Foundation of Sarasota County with generous funding from the George J. & Alice Pugh Donor Advised Fund.
For more about WBTT, go to westcoastblacktheatre.org or call (941) 366-1505. To find your WEDU PBS station, go to wedu.org/channels.
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. Its mission is to produce professional theater 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, visit the website at westcoastblacktheatre.org or call 941-366-1505.