Photograph of nurturing woman

“They didn’t bring the hum; they didn’t bring the leader-call, they didn’t bring the field hollers, because they didn’t know them... the hum, the holler, the leader-call are women things.”
Nikki Giovanni
Black Women Writers at Work

the Black Theatre Review (tBTR) is a biannual online, peer-reviewed journal published by the Black Theatre Network (BTN). BTN is dedicated to the exploration and preservation of the theatrical visions of the African Diaspora. The goal of tBTR is to explore the scholarship, history, and performance of Black peoples and cultures wherever they are expressed throughout the world.

tBTR is pleased to accept submissions for its fifth publication, Vol. 3 No. 1, to be published July 2024. We invite authors to reflect on the theme of nurturing.

On January 11th I learned of the tragic death of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey on January 8, 2024, nine months after assuming the role of VP of Student Affairs at Lincoln University of Missouri. The self-reported causes of her death were employment-related “harm and mental damage” and being “intentionally harassed and bullied”. News of her loss comes days after Dr. Claudine Gay resigned from Harvard University on January 2, 2024. In her resignation letter Dr. Gay writes, “These last weeks have helped make clear the work we need to do to build that future — to combat bias and hate in all its forms, to create a learning environment in which we respect each other’s dignity and treat one another with compassion, and to affirm our enduring commitment to open inquiry and free expression in the pursuit of truth.”

The day following the news of Dr. Candia-Bailey, like many mornings before, I heard the reveille heralding from the nearby air base as I worked. Work is often how I navigate grief and I was grieving for her family and for those in the world who would never get to hear her, metaphorical, finished song. I did not know her personally, but I recognized her disregarded cries for help in addressing workplace discrimination. In the middle of this work-grief continuum, I am reflecting on what Black women often experience in Higher Education in terms of the lack of compassion and respect, and bias and hate from the classroom to the boardroom. How do we stay on our respective paths forward in the academy (or carve new paths) with joy in the face of these circumstances? In When Will the Joy Come: Black Women in the Ivory Tower (2023) editors Chapdelaine, Thompson, and Asare argue that it is through the potential of joy, writing that:

“Joy is a matter of autonomy, agency, and community…found in moments of connection, and reclamation that each scholar seeks, still, despite the alienating systems through which [Black women] journey…it is [our] well-being and thriving…and it is not something we are willing to relinquish despite the context of our lives and labor” (14-15).

In this precarious moment, my own search for joy led me to the above epithet of Nikki Giovanni and the image of Baby Suggs holy ministering to the people through her services in the woods in Toni Morrison’s Beloved. In both examples, the weeping of our eyes, the laugh in our throat, the song in our blood, the dance of our limbs, and the drum in our hearts were the curative and nourishing response to the weight of dehumanization and death. Here and elsewhere, Black women lead the call for the expressivity which nurtures, enlivens, and brings joy to the people in times of need.

Vol. 3 No.1 is a Reveille, or “the hum, the holler, [and] the leader-call” which asks scholars, artists, and lovers of Black theatre and Black expressivity to identify, interrogate, and investigate elements of nurturing among Black women in Black and African Diasporic theatre history, dramatic literature, performance and production, digital art, artistic leadership, pedagogy, and praxis. We invite authors to investigate, reflect on, and illuminate:

  • Theory and practice-based approaches to theatre making, artistic leadership, theatre pedagogy, and theatrical developments by, for, and about Black women that reflect an ethic of care and engender joy.
  • Elements and rituals within Black theatre and Black expressivity that can nourish, sustain, buoy, and uplift Black women.
  • Strategies and practices for monitoring and navigating emotional wellbeing, maintaining agency and authenticity, and emboldening and supporting Black women theatre artists, faculty, and administrators in maneuvering difficult matters in learning environments.
  • Contemporary profiles of Black women leaders and art makers in the field of Black theatre or Black expressivity that hear the Reveille and through their work inspire us to exist with joy and give us life for the work ahead.
  • Digital art and/or performance about how Black women nurture themselves and others.
  • Africana womanism, Black feminism, and/or epistemologies of Black womanness in Black theatre or Black expressivity.

The last date for submissions is April 1, 2024. Early submissions will, however, receive preference in the review and publication process.  Please upload your full manuscript on our website.

Omiyẹmi (Artisia) Green, MFAMichelle Cowin Gibbs, PhD
Editor-in-chiefManaging Editor