Mecca is Burning
World Premier produced by the Negro Ensemble Company, in conjunction with their residency at Penn Live Arts
AUGUST 10 – AUGUST 20, 2023
Harlem School of the Arts
Tickets from $30
A composite play by four playwrights, it confronts social and racial themes through the use of protest poetry, dialogue and monologues examining our current social climate from the perspective of four fictional Harlem families. The play was collaboratively written by Cris Eli Blak, Lisa McCree, Levy Lee Simon and Mona R. Washington under the leadership of Karen Brown, Artistic Director and Executive Producer of NEC, who directs the piece.
Over the past year, each of the four playwrights penned a different story about a family living in a Harlem building, each story being independent of the others until a catastrophic event connects them all. The four playlets were then braided together by director Karen Brown.
In “Down to the White Meat,” the section by Lisa McCree a couple is at odds in their responses to impending violence. Dee’ Ja-Ray wants to move back to Connecticut, where she grew up, but A’Brian insists on staying in Harlem because it’s the world he knows.
In “Papa Goes Away, Papas Never Stay,” the section by Chris Eli Blak, Henry is an everyman laborer and Domenica is his college-bound daughter. As a civil war in Harlem is breaking our between white supremacists and local Black residents, Henry intends to fight for the first time in his life. He had never before challenged the system to gain respect as a black man. Domenica fears she’ll have nothing if he dies.
“Queen Sheba,” the section by Mona R Washington, is quirky comic relief. Kyla and Alicia, sisters, are frozen with inaction as they, like many, try to flee the Cracker insurrection but are tripped up by petty domestic complications like college schedules and packing hair products.
In “From Rage and Reason,” the section by Levy Lee Simon, Candace and Marcus are both professionals. Marcus discovers that his wife is a militant and he didn’t know it.
“The play is a captivating drama that accentuates and punctuates the variety of feelings of an African American citizenry attempting to navigate the troubled political waters of our times.” – Karen Brown
The ensemble (now in formation” includes Chandler Acloque, Ray Alton, Ashlee Danielle, Joy Renee Leblanc, Benjamin Rowe, Sharell Williams, and Kenya Wilson. Lighting designer is Melody A. Beal. Set designer is Patrice Davidson. Sound Designer is David Wright. Costume designer is Rhonda Lucas. Choreographer is Leslie Dockery. Composer is Nate Waller. Dramaturg is A.J. Muhammad. Stage Manager is Fulton Hodges.
Running time: 2:15 incl. intermission