Elon’s Arts Administration seniors promote Greensboro’s 2nd Amplify Black Voices Festival

The festival is April 26-27 at the International Civil Rights Museum in Greensboro, the result of creative efforts by seven colleges and universities in the Greater Greensboro Theater Consortium.

Seniors in Elon University’s Arts Administration Program are honing their skills this spring by coordinating the Greater Greensboro Theater Consortium’s second Amplify Black Voices Festival.

Logo for Amplify Black Voices Festival of Greater GreensboroThe festival features four new works by area Black playwrights and is Friday and Saturday, April 26-27, at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum, 134 S. Elm St., Greensboro. Both nights begin with receptions at 6 p.m. before 7 p.m. staged readings of plays — “Cam(eron),” by J Wilson, and “The Invisible Orchids,” by Keshia McLeod on Friday; and “Emasculated,” by Jamaas Britton, and “DJ ME,” by Makaela Reed on Saturday. Tickets are available on the festival’s website. Admission is free for students and $10 for the general public.

Elon University is among six institutions in the Greater Greensboro Theater Consortium, which formed and founded the festival in the wake of national upheaval in 2020 to reflect the significance of Black lives, stories and racial injustice. Others in the consortium are Bennett College, N.C. A&T State University, the University of North Carolina – Greensboro, High Point University and Guilford College. The first Amplify Black Voices Festival was in spring 2022.

While other schools in the consortium are providing cast and crew to stage the plays, Elon students are working behind the scenes to plan and promote the festival. Ten arts administration majors in Associate Professor of Arts Administration David McGraw’s senior seminar are getting hands-on experience in staging a regional event by building the festival’s website and coordinating logistics, marketing and media coverage.

“We’re putting into practice what we’ve learned all four years, and it’s exciting to get to meet with, plan and be part of this festival,” said Anne-Sophie Hill ‘24, who is also majoring in music theatre. “It’s made me more excited to do the work I’m interested in.”

Students aren’t just engaged in learning. They’re enthusiastic about furthering the festival’s mission of promoting young, Black artists and “using art to keep these stories and issues at the forefront of people’s minds,” said Whitney McDonnell ’24, also majoring in drama and theatre studies.

“Our hope is that we carry this work from class into the work we do as professionals in highlighting the importance of DEI,” said Tommy Pegan ’24.

The choice of venue for the second festival is significant. The International Civil Rights Museum is housed at the former F.W. Woolworth store where on Feb. 1, 1960, four Black N.C. A&T students catalyzed a sit-in movement by refusing to leave the segregated lunch counter. The movement spread to locations across the South and resulted in Greensboro’s and other stores desegregating.

Theater-goers will be able to tour the museum and view exhibits and displays around various civil rights movements and historic events for additional context to performances.

The festival is supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the N.C. Arts Council and the Greater Greensboro Arts Council. When it was established in 2022, it was the largest-known multi-university theater collaboration in America.

For more information, email the festival or follow it on Instagram.