Washington’s African-American Collective Theater (ACT) enters its fourth decade with the latest installment of a program that has become an annual spring tradition in the District. After a return to post-pandemic live performances last year for its 30th anniversary, ACT is once again headed back onstage with a one-day, two-performance festival of new LGBTQ+- themed short plays written by Founding Artistic Director Alan Sharpe.
“It was great to be back in front of a live audience last May!” enthuses Sharpe. “And we are looking forward to repeating that excitement and energy with this year’s festival — two different programs that mix drama, comedy, and a dash of romance under the collective title OUT with IT!”
Over 20 talented, local “ACT’ers” — some familiar faces, some new — will present readers theater–type performances of the plays on Sunday, May 28, 2023, with a matinee at 4 pm and a different show that evening at 7 pm. Audiences can choose either show…or stay and enjoy both.
Inspired by, and mounted in observance of, DC Black Pride Weekend, the festival unfolds downtown at the Undercroft Theater, in the lower level of the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church at 900 Mount Vernon Place, conveniently located diagonally across the street from the Ramada Renaissance, host hotel for the 2023 DC Black Pride Weekend festivities.
ACT is especially proud to have its OUT with IT! performances included among the “Official” events for the weekend by the Center for Black Equity and DC Black Pride.
OUT with IT! plays Sunday, May 28, 2023, at 4:00 pm and 7:00 pm presented by African-American Collective Theater performing in the Undercroft Theater, in the lower level of the Mount Vernon Place Methodist Church at 900 Mount Vernon Place, Washington, DC. Advance tickets ($20–$30) are on sale online.
ABOUT ALAN SHARPE
Alan Sharpe began creating LGBTQ-themed projects in 1970, as a freshman film student at Boston University. An on-campus theater company that he co-founded while there eventually evolved into African-American Collective Theater (ACT) after his move to Washington, DC, in 1976.
In the early ’90s, African-American Collective Theater revised its original mission from Black theater in general to focus solely on LGBTQ themes and subject matter. In 1993 Sharpe wrote the film Party — an AIDSFilms Production in association with Gay Men of African Descent. Later, he both wrote and directed the serial drama Chump ChangeS — widely acknowledged as one of the first African American web series on the internet. During the subsequent three decades, as an HIV+ artist, he has written and directed over 130 plays and short films — all showcasing the vibrant mosaic of LGBTQ+ life and culture in the Black community.
In addition to fellowships in theater and Larry Neal Awards in dramatic writing from the D.C. Commission of the Arts, Sharpe was selected to participate in the Kennedy Center Playwrights’ Intensive and the Playwrights’ Arena program at Arena Stage. He is also the recipient of awards from the Gay and Lesbian Activists’ Alliance (GLAA), Us Helping Us (UHU), and a Prism Award, for his body of work in support of the African American LGBTQ+ community. In 2012, he was honored to have a Legacy Award named after him by the DC Black Theater Festival. More recently, he became the inaugural recipient of the Alan Sharpe Award, initiated in 2019 by the Center for Black Equity and DC Black Pride Inc. to annually celebrate cultural contributions to the LGBTQ+ Community. In December 2021, he received a Community Pioneer Award from the Rainbow History Project for his pioneering arts work to establish the lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer communities of today’s DMV.
Beyond ACT, Sharpe is proud to be a charter member of the Brave Soul Collective (BSC) — for which he has also written an ongoing series of plays — as well as the African-American Playwrights’ Exchange (APEX), Urban Playwrights United (UPU), the NPX New Play Exchange, and the Dramatists’ Guild.
Alan Sharpe on making Black LGBTQ+ theater against the odds
(feature, May 27, 2022)
32 actors to perform Alan Sharpe’s ‘Screen/Plays’ on Black Pride Weekend (news story, May 20, 2021)