About the Amplify Black Voices Festival

Building on Greensboro’s rich legacy of social justice and engagement in the Civil Rights Movement, Amplify Black Voices Festival of Greater Greensboro unites seven local college theater departments to collaboratively produce four theater performances focusing on African-American lives and history. Staged at four different college theater venues in Spring 2022, the cast and crews for each will be blended from the seven departments. After each performance, the actors and director will return to the stage to reflect on the significance of black lives and stories and racial inequity. Our target audience includes university/college communities, the greater Greensboro community, and Guilford County Public Schools.

Having spent almost a decade of my life in Greensboro, living and learning in that community, I know that my voice and perspective have been shaped by the piedmont region.

Playwright Kamilah Bush on writing “Nick & the Prizefighter”

History of the Festival

In July 2020, Bennett College convened a meeting of the Theater Department Chairs of the Greensboro Consortium Colleges and Universities to ascertain interest in a collaborative theater festival centered on black lives and experiences. With overwhelming support, this group made up of Tennille Foust and Anne Hayes, co-chairs (Bennett College), Lauren Kearns and David McGraw (Elon University), Ashley Hyers (Greensboro College), Beth Ritson (Guilford College), Doug Brown (High Point University), Gregory Horton (North Carolina A&T State University), and Natalie Sowell (the University of North Carolina at Greensboro) formed the Amplify: Black Voices Festival of Greater Greensboro Committee. In November 2020, each committee member nominated one outstanding director and play. The Committee read the descriptions and each nominator “made the case” for his or her selections. In January 2021, the committee voted on the top four plays and the top four directors. The committee members then made recommendations for the best theater venues for each production.

In November 2020, each Amplify Theater Festival committee member nominated one outstanding director and one play centered on African American lives. The Committee read the play descriptions, script samples, and each nominator “made the case” for his/her nominee. The Committee also read the curriculum vitaes of each nominated director. In January 2021, the committee voted on the top four plays and the top four directors. The selection of directors was made based on demonstrated excellence and experience directing socially conscious plays and/or plays centered on African American lives. The top four directors were: Gregory Horton, Interim Director of Theatre at NC A&T State University; Vanecia Boone, Theater Faculty at NC A&T and Bennett College; Natalie Sowell, Director of the University of North Carolina-Greensboro School of Theatre; and Doug Brown, Department Chair and Associate Professor for the Department of Theater & Dance at High Point University. Each has committed.

On February 23, 2021, Dr. Anne Hayes submitted the National Endowment of the Arts (NEA) grant proposal on behalf of Bennett College and the Amplify Committee.  The NEA Grant announced the selection of Bennett College’s project on January 11, 2022.

“Theater has been used throughout time as a vehicle to get the message out to the masses. It’s the place where political issues have been presented and protested.”

Vanecia Boone, Co-playwright and Director of “Mend A City” The Movement”

The Amplify Black Voices Festival Committee of Greater Greensboro thanks the National Endowment for the Arts for its support in the inaugural year of the festival

Tennille Foust and Anne Hayes, co-chairs (Bennett College)

Lauren Kearns and David McGraw (Elon University)

Ashley Hyers (Greensboro College)

Beth Ritson (Guilford College)

Doug Brown (High Point University)

Gregory Horton (North Carolina A&T State University)

Natalie Sowell (UNC Greensboro)