The Refocus Project aims to transform the American theatre canon.
The works deemed to be “classic” plays have long been defined too narrowly and by too few. If we’re to have an equitable theatre, we must look to the past and shine a spotlight on the plays and playwrights that were left behind by history, not because of their merits but because of their identities.
As a theatre company with a legacy of producing revivals, we realize we need to tell a more complete story and ensure we are an active part of the solution, not an ongoing part of the problem.
The first year of The Refocus Project spotlights twentieth-century Black plays and their playwrights. A diverse panel of readers, consuming dozens of plays, chose several for readings and many more to be highlighted through the additional resources.
We encourage you to get to know these works and join us in redefining them as the American classics they truly are.
Black Theatre UnitedWe are pleased to offer The Refocus Project virtual presentations free to all. To support the work of BIPOC artists and help influence reform on the national stage, please consider a donation to Black Theatre United today. 100% of donations to The Refocus Project will directly support Black Theatre United. Donations to BTU are processed through Billie Holiday Theatre, a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization, EIN: 11-2336154.
Home by Samm-Art Williams (1979)
Directed by RTC Senior Resident Director Kenny Leon
Rachel by Angelina Weld Grimké (1916)
Directed by RTC Resident Director Miranda Haymon
I Gotta Home by Shirley Graham Du Bois (1939)
Directed by Steve H. Broadnax III
Spunk by Zora Neale Hurston (1935)
Directed by Lili-Anne Brown
Wine in the Wilderness by Alice Childress (1969)
Directed by Dominique Rider
Introduction to The Refocus Project
Literary Ancestry Essay Series
Timeline of Black American Theatre
Recommended Plays & Further Reading
Toward a New Canon: A Conversation with CLASSIX and Hedgepig Ensemble TheatreRoundabout’s Literary Manager, Anna Morton, in conversation with members of CLASSIX and Hedgepig Ensemble Theatre, discussing the work these two organizations are doing to promote plays by Black writers and women writers, respectively. Panelists Mary Candler, Emily Lyon, Dominique Rider, and Awoye Timpo will discuss their research and curation processes, the resources they have available for theatres reviving their recommended plays, and what they envision for the future of their initiatives and the shape of the American theatre canon.
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for further information on these resources.
Leadership support for The Refocus Project is generously provided by the Ford Foundation.
Additional funding provided by
A partnership with The New York Public Library – spanning its branches, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, and Library for the Performing Arts – will further engage New Yorkers in these offerings.