Speakeysie News Desk 9/26/2020

A free series of virtual conversations and performances exploring the role of artistic expression as a tool for activism

ATLANTA— In partnership with local artists, activists, and community organizations, the Alliance Theatre will host Hands Up Atlanta: Art and Activism, a series of conversations exploring the role of artistic expression as an activist tool to ignite dialogue, reflection, and civic participation around critical issues affecting Black lives, specifically in Atlanta and the South. Each conversation will cover topics and themes found in the Alliance’s upcoming production of The New Black Fest’s HANDS UP: Seven Playwrights, Seven Testaments, co-directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard.  The series will include four Thursday evening events in October and a special family-oriented program on Sunday October 25.  Each Thursday event will feature guest artists and speakers as well as a screening of a film short that has been developed to represent the topic of that evening’s discussion. 

HANDS UP ATLANTA: ART AND ACTIVISM Schedule (Oct 8 – 29, 2020):

October 8, 7:00 p.m. – Recasting the Black Image
A conversation about reckoning with the stereotype of the “Black Male.” This conversation focuses on the distorted portrayal of Black men in mainstream media and society and the ways artist-activists are reshaping this image. 

Presented in partnership with Emory Center for Ethics and The Baton Foundation

Short film screenings: Superiority Fantasy and They Shootin! Or I Ain’t Neva Scared – directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard, featuring Lamar Cheston, and Racquel Charles and Markelle Gay

Featured panelists include:

Carlton Mackey (Moderator), Director, Ethics and the Arts Program for Emory University; Creator, Black Men Smile

Mark Kendall, Playwright, Actor, and Comedian; creator of The Magic Negro

Anthony Knight, Educator and President of the Baton Foundation

Eugene H. Russell, IV, Actor, Composer, Activist

Charles Stephens, Founder of The Counter Narrative Project

·        October 15, 7:00 p.m. – Black LGBTQ Narratives

This conversation focuses on the intersections of Black, gay, and trans identities and the legacy and work of the Black artists within both the Black Lives Matter movement and the LGBTQ rights movement.

Presented in partnership with The Counter Narrative Project

Short film screening: Holes In My Identity – directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard, featuring Brandon Hirsch

Featured panelists include:

Charles Stephens (Moderator), Founder of The Counter Narrative Project

E. Patrick Johnson, Dean of the School of Communication and the Carolos Montezuma Professor of Performance Studies and African American Studies at Northwestern University as well as a performing artist, author of Sweet Tea

Nathan Yunerberg, Playwright and Author of Holes in My Identity

Trevor Perry, Actor and Drag Performer

    October 22, 7:00 p.m. – Racial Healing Through Art
This conversation focuses on the impact of racism and the cultural trope of the “strong Black woman” on the lives of Black women. Join artists, healers and mental health professionals for a discussion of artistic pathways that support activist work around women’s issues and   promote healing from racial trauma.  This conversation will be followed by an optional 30-minute Expressive Arts Workshop with Dr. Wendy Phillips.

Presented in partnership with Not So Strong

Short film screenings: Dead of Night…The Execution Of and Abortion – directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard, featuring Cynthia Barker and Jael Pettigrew

Featured panelists include:

Minka Wiltz (Moderator), Creator and Host of The Cultural Workers Podcast

Amanda Washington, Theater Director and Creator of the Theatre from My View YouTube channel

Dr. Wendy Philips, Expressive Arts Therapist

Shanegua Gay, Visual Artist; part of the OFF THE WALL mural project

Dr. Ayanna Abrams, Clinical Psychologist and Founder of Not So Strong

  October 25, 3:00 p.m. – Hands Up! Engaging Art to Raise Anti-Racist Kids
A family-oriented event featuring a reading of the best-selling picture book Hands Up!, a Q&A with author Breanna J. McDaniel, and interactive arts activities to foster conversations about race and allyship for families.

Presented in partnership with Brave + Kind Bookshop

Featured panelists include:

Breanna J. McDaniel, Author of best-selling kids book Hands Up!

Naima Carter Russell, Actress and kids book advocate @DramaMamaReads

  October 29, 7:00 p.m. – Standing Up for Racial Justice
The culminating event of the Arts and Activism series featuring Atlanta-based theater arts organizations working on a range of racial justice and equity initiatives.  Followed by a facilitated allyship discussion focused on navigating racism together.

Short film screening: Walking with Michael Brown – directed by Keith Arthur Bolden and Alexis Woodard, featuring Christian Magby

Featured panelists include leaders from the following organizations:

Maya Lawrence (Moderator), Alliance Theatre Anti-Bias Program Director




Atlanta Theater Artists for Justice

Out of Hand Theater

Community Partners for this series include:

Spelman College, United Way of Greater Atlanta, Compassionate ATL, Not So Strong, Emory Center for Ethics, Black Men Smile, The Counter Narrative Project, The Baton Foundation, B.L.A.C.T, CREAT, IDEA ATL, and Atlanta Theatre Artists for Justice.

These events are free and open to the public, but RSVPs are required to gain access to the stream.  Learn more and RSVP here –


February 2021​

Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre​

By Nathan James, Nathan Yungerberg, Idris Goodwin, Nambi E. Kelley, Nsangou Njikam, Eric Holmes, and Dennis Allen II​

Co-Directed by Keith Arthur Bolden​ and Alexis Woodard

Presented by arrangement with Concord Theatricals on behalf of Samuel French, Inc.,

Originally commissioned by the New Black Fest in response to the 2015 events in Ferguson, MO, where a police officer fatally shot Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, Hands Up is comprised of separate monologues written by seven Black playwrights. The play depicts the realities of Black America from the perspective of varying genders, sexual orientations, skin tones, and socioeconomic backgrounds. Hands Up is produced with support from the Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab and in association with Spelman College. ​ For tickets or information, call 404-733-5000 or visit


Founded in 1968, the Alliance Theatre is the leading producing theater in the Southeast, reaching more than 165,000 patrons annually.  Under the leadership of Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director, the Alliance received the Regional Theatre Tony Award® for sustained excellence in programming, education, and community engagement.  In January 2019, the Alliance opened its new, state-of-the-art performance space, The Coca-Cola Stage at Alliance Theatre.  Known for its high artistic standards and national role in creating significant theatrical works, the Alliance has premiered more than 116 productions including nine that have transferred to Broadway.  The Alliance education department reaches 90,000 students annually through performances, classes, camps, and in-school initiatives designed to support teachers and enhance student learning.  The Alliance Theatre values community, curiosity, collaboration, and excellence, and is dedicated to representing Atlanta’s diverse community with the stories we tell, the artists, staff, and leadership we employ, and audiences we serve.


Expanding hearts and minds on stage and off. 


Making Atlanta more connected, curious, and compassionate through theatre and arts education.

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