Off-Broadway’s Atlantic Theater Company – committed to connecting with audiences from a broad range of economic backgrounds, ages, ethnicities, and perspectives – returns next week with its annual MixFest, a yearly reading series exploring and celebrating the abundance of diverse stories in the theater. Following the 2017 Asian American MixFest, the 2018 Middle Eastern MixFest, and last year’s Immigrant MixFest, the 2021 African Caribbean MixFest offers two weeks of free virtual readings of new work, beginning on Tuesday, January 19, at 6 pm.
Co-produced by NYC-based actress and playwright Guadalís Del Carmen and British actor/playwright/director Kwame Kwei-Armah (Artistic Director of London’s Young Vic), the line-up features their original full-length plays along with one by France-Luce Benson, as well as short plays by Jasmine Lee-Jones and Whitney White. Atlantic Theater Company also commissioned Julissa Contreras, Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Patrice Johnson Chevannes to create short one-act works to be presented as readings alongside a short play by Jeff Augustin.
Kwei-Armah said, “I’ve long been a profound fan of the MixFest series, and so when asked to help facilitate the articulation of Black Caribbean writers to the Atlantic Theater’s wonderful audience, I was elated. The Caribbean voice in America is not one that is often articulated, and so I simply couldn’t let this wonderful opportunity pass me by.”
Del Carmen added, “Producing MixFest this year brings me so much joy! I think of Aimé Césaire and Errol John and their efforts to shine a light on Caribbean stories, and I appreciate Atlantic Theater Company for carving out a space to continue that work. Although we’ve all had to adapt to life on Zoom as theater artists, these dynamic plays do not lose their shine. It’s also been important for us to curate a conversation around issues that directly affect the Caribbean, from sex tourism to environmental catastrophes. In a time of global reckoning around colonization, racism, and anti-Blackness, I hope folks continue the conversations that these plays and panels will ultimately inspire.”
The African Caribbean MixFest will kick off on January 19, with a Meet the Writers group panel discussion moderated by Alisha Espinosa, giving viewers the opportunity to learn more about the festival playwrights, their creative processes, and what inspires their work. It will be followed by:
Thursday, January 21, Let There Be Love by Kwami Kwei-Armah – An aging and cantankerous West Indian immigrant in London, who has alienated everyone around him, reckons with his past when an idealistic young Polish caregiver is assigned to look after him.
Friday, January 22, Abduction by Whitney White and I Used to Lover H.E.R. by Jasmine Lee-Jones – The time-traveling double bill written by women from either side of the Atlantic pairs White’s two-hander conversation set in the holding room of a space ship with Lee-Jones’s exploration of the language of love from 1476 to the present.
Tuesday, January 26, Short Plays by Jeff Augustin, Julissa Contreras, Dane Figueroa Edidi, and Patrice Johnson Chevannes – Three pieces, newly commissioned by Atlantic Theater Company, are presented with a short by Miami-born playwright Jeff Augustin.
Wednesday, January 27, Who Is the Caribbean in America Today? – Moderated by Alisha Espinosa, the panel discussion addresses the titular question through the lens of Caribbean history and the critical issues of our current time, including matters of leadership and the role of art in Caribbean culture.
Thursday, January 28, Tigress of San Domingue by France-Luce Benson – Part II of Benson’s Haitian Revolution trilogy Deux Femmes on the Edge de la Revolution continues the journey of an enslaved African healer turned rebel soldier and a French ex-patriate caught between two worlds.
Friday, January 29, A Shero’s Journey or What Anacaona and Yemaya Taught Me by Guadalís Del Carmen – A woman whose entire life has been planned by her family and society falls in love with a friend from the past, leaving her at a crossroads and making her question everything she’d been taught.
Atlantic Theater Company’s African Caribbean MixFest streams Tuesday, January 19-Friday, January 29, at 6 pm. Admission is free, reservations are required, and donations are welcome. To RSVP, go online.