Also, as I continued to talk with the non-theatre people, many of them expressed their disinterest in theatre because Tyler Perry is their sole impression of it -- and they don't like Tyler Perry. Yeah, those people exist, too. I have to admit that this bothers me the most because it speaks to a larger issue in our community. It indicates just how little knowledge the African American community has of its own splendid and diverse cultural history. African American theatre has been in existence for over 100 years, with Black playwrights emerging as early as the 1800s. African American theatre came to a greater prominence during the '60s as it became apart of the larger protest movements for Civil Rights and Black Power. Then, of course, there's the greats such as August Wilson, Lorraine Hansberry, Amiri Baraka, Alice Childress, and Ed Bullins crafted their legendary and prolific voices through their staged works. Many notable Black actors began their careers in theatre because it is an excellent training ground. As far as subject matter, Black theatre has addressed potent sociocultural issues as well as preserved African traditions and rituals.
One of HHP's goals is to convert as many non-theatre going Black people as possible and proudly, we can say that we are doing that by crafting unique stories with specific messages or social commentary and presenting them on stage. Intentionally, we are separating ourselves from the Tyler Perry school of drama because there is a need to offer diversity in Black theatre and address those specific voids for Black audiences. It is my sincerest desire that Black theatre continues for another hundred years or so, but it won't happen if theatre professionals such as myself are unable to proselytize people in order to build our audiences. So, go on, tell me you're not really a theatre person. I accept that as a challenge.