Commemorate Juneteenth With 5 Top Shows, Past and Present, Streaming Now
From Anna Deavere Smith to Jomama Jones, these are some of our critics' highly recommended shows that you can watch at home now.
Juneteenth has finally become a national holiday, so to commemorate it, we've put together a list of shows by Black artists that are currently available for streaming in your own home this weekend. Each of them offers much to contemplate and celebrate as we work together to create a society that is equitable for all.
Lincoln Center Theater is presenting a free stream of its 2019 LCT3 production Marys Seacole, written by Jackie Sibblies Drury and directed by Lileana Blain-Cruz. Taking the life of Jamaican-born Mary Seacole as its focus, the drama examines the role of similar Marys throughout history. Our senior critic Zach Stewart called the play "breathtaking to behold," adding: "Mary Seacole may have been an exceptional woman, but Drury makes the case that the Marys who toil among us in 2019 aren't far off... Few of them are likely to end up with statues (as the historical Mary Seacole now has), but they do now have one hell of a play." Marys Seacole will be available via Broadway On Demand though July 4; to register for free tickets, click here.
When Antoinette Chinonye Nwandu's Pass Over appeared off-Broadway at Lincoln Center, our critic Pete Hempstead called it "a new masterpiece of modern drama." The play ran before that at Chicago's Steppenwolf, where Spike Lee directed a filmed version. Pass Over tells the story of two young Black men dreaming of escape from a racist world. It's a startling and disturbing riff on Samuel Beckett's Waiting for Godot. Lee's version streams here on Prime Video, and Nwandu's new version of the play is coming to Broadway in August. It should not be missed. You can purchase tickets here.
It's hard to describe Jomama Jones's unforgettable Black Light without using words like "revelatory" and "prophetic." Jomama (the divine alter ego of creator Daniel Alexander Jones) invites us to the Crossroads to contemplate what we must choose at this moment in our own lives, in our civic relationships, in our country, and our world(s). Our critic Hayley Levitt wrote, "For anyone looking for something to match the earnestness of these dark times, Jomama Jones is here to turn your pain into something beautiful." The performance was recorded live at Joe's Pub on March 17, 2018. You can watch the entire show above.
Fires in the Mirror
Anna Deavere Smith holds a unique spot in American theater for her plays that probe the underlying causes and motivations of social unrest. Her work Fires in the Mirror, which was revived in 2019 at Signature Theater and starred Michael Benjamin Washington, is a documentary play about the three-day 1991 race riot between the Lubavitch Orthodox Jewish and black communities in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. Though Washington's performance is not available online, Deavere Smith's early stunning performance of the work is. For those unfamiliar with her work, this is a fine place to start. The multipart video is available here.
After Midnight ran on Broadway 2013-14, and now Washington, D.C.'s Signature Theatre has revived it and made it available for home viewing. Christopher Jackson leads the cast in the production, which takes the form of a variety show at Harlem's Cotton Club. Our critic Zach Stewart says, "This filmed version of After Midnight brings a little bit of nightlife into your living room. It is a particularly exuberant manifestation of the lasting impact Black artists have made on American popular culture, and it couldn't come at a better time." You can watch After Midnight through August 4. To purchase tickets, click here.