Joe’s Movement Emporium is producing a new theater performance work by playwright Psalmayene 24, Out of the Vineyard, as part of the Freedom Stories initiative. Out of the Vineyard is based on the history book A Question of Freedom: The Families Who Challenged Slavery from the Nation’s Founding to the Civil War by William G. Thomas III, constructed through interviews with descendants of enslaved families and people connected to the history of freedom lawsuits in Prince George’s County. Weaving together monologues that excavate a buried chapter in American history, Out of the Vineyard illuminates how the legacy of slavery still affects us today.
Out of the Vineyard will be directed by director-choreographer Tony Thomas and feature actors Scott Abernethy, Frank Britton, Adrienne Nelson, and Jacqueline Youm. The design team includes costume designer Jeannette Christensen, sound design by Nick Hernandez, video project design by Luis Garcia, and set design by Shartoya Jn. Baptiste. The production will be stage-managed by Kate Kilbane.
The Freedom Stories initiative is a program partnership between Prince George’s County Memorial Library System, Prince George’s Community College Center for Performing Arts, Prince George’s County Office of Human Rights, and Joe’s Movement Emporium. The commissioned play Out of the Vineyard is made possible by the generous support of PGCMLS Foundation, Kaiser Permanente, Busboys and Poets, Maryland Humanities Council, if, A Foundation for Radical Possibility, Maryland Milestones, National Endowment for the Arts, Adelphi Friends Meeting, Paul M. Angell Family Foundation, Weissberg Foundation, and individual donors.
Out of the Vineyard will run from Friday, September 8, to Sunday, September 24, 2023, at Joe’s Movement Emporium. Each performance will have a post-show discussion with guest facilitators. For tickets and show times: joesmovement.org.
About Psalmayene 24, playwright: Psalm is an award-winning director, playwright, and actor. Playwriting credits include Dear Mapel and Les Deux Noirs: Notes on Notes of a Native Son at Mosaic Theater Company, The Frederick Douglass Project co-written with Deirdre Kinahan at Solas Nua, and Zomo the Rabbit: A Hip-Hop Creation Myth at Imagination Stage. Directing credits include Good Bones, Flow, and Pass Over at Studio Theatre, Necessary Sacrifices: A Radio Play at Ford’s Theatre, Native Son at Mosaic Theater Company, Word Becomes Flesh at Theater Alliance, Cinderella: The Remix at Imagination Stage, and Not Enuf Lifetimes at The Welders. His solo play, Free Jujube Brown! is published in the anthology Plays from the Boom Box Galaxy: Theater from the Hip Hop Generation. Acting credits include Ruined at Arena Stage, Free Jujube Brown! at The African Continuum Theatre Company, and HBO’s The Wire. He is the writer/director of the short film The Freewheelin’ Insurgents. Psalm is the host of Psalm’s Salons at Studio, an interview-based cultural series that celebrates theatre and community through a Black lens. He is the recipient of a Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Direction of a Play and has received the Imagination Award from Imagination Stage. His work has received grants from the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Walt Disney Corporation. Psalm is currently the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Playwright in Residence at Mosaic Theater Company. He is a member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, Dramatists Guild, and Actors’ Equity Association.
About Tony Thomas, director: Since his youth, Tony has toured, performed, and worked as a professional artist, scoping a range of television, film, stage, concert dance, and design work. His international travels and residencies have exposed him to intriguing cultural practices and art forms, cultivating the artist we see today. Sprung from the love of performing parents, triple-threat trained – Tony delivers innovation from his core strengths in acting, singing, and dance. With an eye for creative development, Tony Thomas is marking his spot in film, virtual staging, and direction. A few directing and choreography credits include P.Nokio – A Hip-Hop Musical, Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed, The Freshest Snow Whyte, and You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown (2019 Helen Hayes Award for Outstanding Production – TYA) at Imagination Stage; People Places and Things, White Noise, Flow, Pass Over, and P.Y.G. (Helen Hayes Award Nomination for Outstanding Choreography in 2019) at Studio Theatre.
About Joe’s Movement Emporium: Established in 1995, Joe’s Movement Emporium is a cultural arts hub that acts as a catalyst for creativity and economic opportunity. Through programs and productions in education, performing arts, and work readiness, Joe’s integrates civic engagement, community development, and creativity. In 2020, the organization opened a second location, Creative Suitland Arts Center. The collaborative program Freedom Stories invites audiences to explore history through art experiences. For more info: www.joesmovement.org.
Black resistance to slavery in PG County inspires ‘Freedom Stories’ (feature by Gregory Ford, September 21, 2021)