Craft Mastering His Art, Sharing With Duke Students

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

What does playwright August Wilson have in common with Marvel's Black superhero Luke Cage?  Find out this spring when the department of Theater Studies offers Duke students a special opportunity to study and create Black Theater with a local playwright on his way up. Howard L. Craft is an accomplished writer/arts educator and a past collaborator with faculty in the department.  His N.C. Arts Council Playwriting Fellowship and a Durham Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant lead to his most recent script, Freight: The Five Incarnations of Abel Green, which premiered in 2015 at UNC under the direction of Joseph Megel. Triangle critic Byron Woods gave it five stars, calling it “a work whose scope, substance and lyricism recall that of August Wilson.” When the show subsequently had a showcase in New York City, it received a NYT Critics Pick and the Village Voice said the script “captures big historical truths in personal, idiosyncratic tales.”

Local theater connoisseurs may have seen Craft's earlier work in 2009 at Manbites Dog Theater where they produced another collaboration with director Joseph Megel, Caleb Calypso and the Midnight Marauders.  Manbites Dog was also the location of Little Green Pig Theatrical Concern’s 2010 premiere of Jade City Chronicles Vol 1, directed by Jaybird O’Berski and starring the indomitable Mike Wiley as the green-caped crusader trying to bring justice to a town strangely similar to Durham.  Luckily, the project had legs as Craft  worked with Frank Stasio of WUNC to further develop the storyline into NC’s first African-American superhero radio serial, The Jade City Pharaoh

For spring 2017, Craft will be teaching a black theater workshop for the department of Theater Studies, where students will be analyzing scripts, performing dramatic readings and creating original scenes as they explore Black Art & Theater, from the Harlem Renaissance to the Black Arts Movement to Afro futurism, the Black Spectacular, and today’s Spoken Word.  The class is THEATRST 243/AAAS 332 Black Theater Workshop (CCI, ALP) and has open enrollment.