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"Enrich, Inspire, & Enable": Curtains to Rise for #BAM Talent's Production of American Son Next Week

This dispatch was added by one of our Nonprofit Neighbors. It does not represent the editorial voice of The Rapidian or Community Media Center.

As local nonprofit #BAM Talent gears up for its production of American Son at Wealthy Theatre, I sat down with Darius Colquitt (Producing Artistic Director, Founder & CEO) to learn more about the organization and its mission.
The poster for #BAM Talent's upcoming production of American Son

The poster for #BAM Talent's upcoming production of American Son /#BAM Talent

"Enrich, Inspire, & Enable Black & Underrepresented Voices through Professional-Level Theatrical Training & Production Works."

That is the mission statement of #BAM (Black Art Matters) Talent, a local nonprofit organization founded by Darius Colquitt and Emily "EmC" Cipriano in June 2021.

Since its establishment, BAM Talent has worked hard to help members of the community tell their stories through the theatrical and performing arts by providing the training, opportunities, and platforms needed to amplify their voices. "We came together based around the idea of wanting to do more for this community and knowing that arts was the way," said Darius Colquitt, Producing Artistic Director, Founder, and CEO of BAM Talent. "BAM was born of a need to elevate the way we move within the arts, the way we serve our community, [and] the way we teach artistic wellness... not just to ourselves and adults, but to the next generation."

Among the numerous ways that BAM Talent is working to accomplish its mission is through a program called {BAM::Backend}.

According to the organization's website, {BAM::Backend} is an apprenticeship/mentorship program for local high school students who are passionate about the theatrical arts. These students will have the opportunity to gain valuable experience in all aspects of theatre production, particularly the "more lucrative," behind-the-scenes careers that exist within the theatrical realm. "We're teaching students about lighting, set design, sound design, costuming, direction, and stage management," Colquitt stated. "Hopefully [this program] will take them somewhere they never thought they could go."

Earlier this year, BAM Talent also hosted an 11-week long series of theatrical workshops at Wealthy Theatre. Called Broadway Bootcamp, these sessions were intended to give aspiring local artists the knowledge and the tools they need to pursue their passions. Industry professionals from West Michigan and beyond provided attendees with instruction in acting, storytelling, choreography, networking, costume and prop design, and more. 

Now, as summer approaches, the curtain rises and the community can see some of BAM Talent's work on the stage.

Beginning on Friday, June 16, BAM Talent will be putting on a production of American Son at Wealthy Theatre. Based on the play by American playwright Christopher Demos-Brown, American Son touches on contemporary issues of racial injustice and prejudice in the United States. Originally scheduled to be performed last year, it is a coincidence that American Son was rescheduled for the weekends around Juneteenth 2023. Nevertheless, the timing does work out in that it allows the audience to reflect on the connection between the holiday and the play. "Everything literally just fell into place," Colquitt said. "A lot of the themes of the show do force one to consider their treatment of others and how folks have historically treated people in time."

The Wealthy Theatre has also expressed its excitement about the upcoming production of American Son. According to Chris Kotcher, the Director of Wealthy Theatre:

"Here at Wealthy Theatre, we recognize the value and importance of hosting local theatre. We're excited about the unique programming that BAM Talent has been developing and we're grateful to work with them as they grow their opportunities for local artists, audiences, and the culture of theatre here in Grand Rapids."

Ticketing information can be found on BAM Talent's website. The show schedule can be viewed below:

Friday, June 16 8:00pm - 9:30pm Wealthy Theatre
Saturday, June 17 8:00pm - 9:30pm Wealthy Theatre
Sunday, June 18 5:00pm - 6:30pm Wealthy Theatre
Friday, June 23 8:00pm - 9:30pm Wealthy Theatre
Saturday, June 24 8:00pm - 9:30pm Wealthy Theatre
Sunday, June 25 5:00pm - 6:30pm Wealthy Theatre

BAM Talent also has other exciting events coming up within the next few weeks.

Songs in the Key of Stevie Wonder, written by BAM Talent's Darius Colquitt, will be performed at Circle Theatre this summer. This production, part of BAM Talent's New Works Workshop (in partnership with Circle Theatre), will take place on Monday, June 12 and again on Monday, August 21.

BAM Talent will also be downtown on Saturday, June 17 for the 2023 Grand Rapids Pride Festival. There, they will be performing a segment called "Queer Black Moments in Broadway History."

To learn more and to keep connected with the organization, visit BAM Talent's website or follow them on social media.   


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