Sinclair Theatre will stream online a series of monologues WE WEAR THE MASK: BREATHE, free of charge beginning August 7th and available through August 9th. This compilation of Black Voices is a collaboration between Sinclair Theatre, Wilberforce University and Sinclair’s Office of Diversity. Monologues were written by Black authors and are being performed by current and former Sinclair actors in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. The project was aptly titled by its director Edward Hill, Vice President of Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at Wilberforce University.
According to Hill, “The poem We Wear the Mask by Paul Laurence Dunbar refers to people hiding their true feelings and emotions from everyone else behind a “mask.” In the poem he refers to the cheerful facial expression that people think is necessary so that others don’t see how they truly feel.”
Authors range from the well-known Dominique Morisseau, to emerging artists like, Keith A. Wallace, Kia Corthron, Christine Toy Johnson, Dave Harris, and Sinclair Alumnus Amber Smith.
Gina Neuerer, Chair of Music, Theatre and Dance, developed the project because “Engaging our students and continuing their education during the pandemic is a challenge, but now our students are feeling the anger of the injustice of our country’s systemic racism, and I want to help them to find multiple paths for their rage and fear and activism, with one of those paths being involvement in theatre performance.”
Actors lending their voices to this project include:
- Stephen Powell, We Wear the Mask, by Paul Laurence Dunbar
- Amber Smith, Character Jasmine from Pipeline, by Dominique Morisseau
- Mackenzie Moore, Jazelle the Gazelle, by Dominique Morisseau
- Amber Smith, Character Mya from Tired, by Amber Smith
- Kasaahn Johnson, Character Omari from Pipeline, by Dominique Morisseau
- Bryana Bentley, You Think You Know Us, by Christine Toy Johnson
- Shaun Diggs, Press-Ure, from Blood at the Root, by Dominique Morisseau
- Mari Pullings, Wake, Child, by Dave Harris
- Stephen Powell and Deangelo Powell, Survival Code, from Blood at the Root, by Dominique Morisseau (Choreographed by Rodney Veal)
- Bryana Bentley, For Black Women Who Experienced Genocide When the Police Murders of Their Sons Was Too Much, by Keith A. Wallace
The monologues will be compiled into one production package by Dan Brunk, professor of Sinclair Theatre’s technology classes. In order to view this free production, you need to visit Sinclair’s ticketing site at www.sinclair.edu/tickets and register for an attendee number which will allow you admission to the site during the streaming period of August 7-9th.
We Wear The Mask
BY PAUL LAURENCE DUNBAR
We wear the mask that grins and lies,
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes,—
This debt we pay to human guile;
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile,
And mouth with myriad subtleties.
Why should the world be over-wise,
In counting all our tears and sighs?
Nay, let them only see us, while
We wear the mask.
We smile, but, O great Christ, our cries
To thee from tortured souls arise.
We sing, but oh the clay is vile
Beneath our feet, and long the mile;
But let the world dream otherwise,
We wear the mask!
Director Edward L. Hill made his debut at the Dayton Theater Guild in the February 2020 production of Mr. Rickey Calls a Meeting. His portrayal of Paul Robeson earned him the credit of Breakthrough Male Performance in a Play for the 2020 Dayton Theater Season.
Hill recently moved to the area from Atlanta, Georgia. and currently serves as the Vice President of Academic Affairs and Strategic Initiatives at Wilberforce University.
He has theater and musical theater credits as an actor, director, and performance coach. Hill is a newly-minted board member of the Dayton Theatre Guild. His most recent credits include company member of Trustus Theater in Columbia, South Carolina. Roles include Troy, in August Wilson’s Fences, Mr. West, in August Wilson’s Two Trains Running, and the Warden in Kiss of the Spider Woman. Hill also has television and film credits including small supporting roles in The Contingent, Survivor’s Remorse, and Six.