Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA) to present ‘A Not So Quiet Nocturne’

The powerful story of a young Black Deaf woman living with AIDS in the 1990s returns to the DC stage 27 years after it premiered in New York.

Visionaries of the Creative Arts (VOCA), a nonprofit arts organization dedicated to amplifying the voices of Deaf, DeafBlind, and Hard of Hearing BIPOC (Black Indigenous People of Color) artists, is proud to announce the revival of A Not So Quiet Nocturne by Jaye Austin Williams and directed by Alexandria Wailes. VOCA is thrilled to bring the powerful play to Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC, 27 years after it premiered at the Vineyard Theatre in New York City, with Tony Kushner serving as a dramaturg and Michelle Banks — two decades before she founded VOCA — in the lead role.

Dr. Jaye Austin Williams, hard of hearing African-American Associate Professor at Bucknell University, is a compelling force in telling the breathtaking story from Charlyn’s lens, a Black Deaf woman living with AIDS and grappling with the reality of life and death. In 1997, the New York Times critic D.J.R. Bruckner quoted,“…Michelle Banks, with the simplest gestures and statements, creates a character of almost unbearable emotional power.” Alexandria Wailes, a Deaf African-American woman with brilliance and talent as a Director of Artistic Sign Language (DASL) for the Oscar-winning movie CODA and the play Private Jones at Signature Theatre, is on board to direct this play. The recent passing of Hydeia Broadbent, an HIV and AIDS activist, concurs with the theme of the play, which has forever made a lasting impact on Black women and AIDS.

The play is set in the early 1990s in New York City, a decade into the horrific AIDS epidemic. Far beneath the national radar’s concern for the massive deaths of vital, young white men within the gay community, and the anxious, lingering myths and unknowns about the disease, Black, poor folks of all persuasions are suffering and dying at proportionately higher rates — and intergenerationally. Such is the case for Charlyn, a young, Black, Deaf woman who has contracted the disease from her husband, who has now died. She has also just buried their infant daughter, Catherine. We meet Charlyn at Catherine’s gravesite, speaking to her daughter, who will never grow up. As we flash backward and forward between Charlyn’s memories of the joys and struggles within the “bare life” that she, her family, and friends have navigated and the present, we witness Charlyn’s blossoming through an unbearable confrontation with her own mortality, as she tries to go on living the unlivable for as long as she possibly can.

Cast in A Not So Quiet Nocturne are Ashlea Hayes (DeafBlind) as Charlyn, Sa’Man Banks as Shalil, JaRon Gilchrist as Terrell, Deimoni Brewington as Danny, Sophia Early as Charlyn’s Voice, Nicole Morgan as Lelia, Zalika Jefferson (Deaf) as Young Charlyn, Trina Redmond as Interpreter, Pauline Dunn as Counselor, Christopher Atchison as Bobby-Mack, Tariq Timberlake as Trey, Edie Backman as Dr. Avery, and Conor Scanlon as Doctor.

The production team for A Not So Quiet Nocturne includes Bethany Slater (Production Manager), Ashley Mapley-Brittle (Assistant Director), Amelia Hensley (Assistant Stage Manager), Fatimah Abdul-Rahim (Stage Manager), Rosa Lee Timm (Director of Artistic Sign Language), Ronnie Bradley (Costume Designer), Justin Schmitz (Sound Designer),  Jourdan Holden (Lighting Designer), Jonathan Mesich (Set Designer), Andrea Vigil (Projection Designer), and Andrew StCyr (Videographer).

A Not So Quiet Nocturne runs April 11-21, 2024, with a preview on April 11 and an opening night on April 12, in the Lang Theater at Atlas Performing Arts Center, 1333 H St NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tickets are available through Atlas Theater’s Box Office: The audience will have access to American Sign Language (ASL), spoken English, and captioning. For more information about VOCA, visit their website at


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