Amiri Baraka's Revolutionary Theater: The New-Ark

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Amiri Baraka’s Revolutionary Theater begins with a screening of The New-Ark (1968), a film made in his hometown of Newark, New Jersey, after narrowly surviving the 1964 Rebellion. This screening, followed by a conversation with Harmony Holiday, a writer and former archivist of Baraka’s oeuvre, will introduce us to the man behind the writing and frame our staged reading of his play Dutchman on November 15 & 16.

Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) was born in 1934 in the industrial city of Newark, New Jersey. After attending Howard University in Washington, D. C., he served in the United States Air Force. In the late fifties he settled in New York’s Greenwich Village where he was a central figure of that bohemian scene. He became nationally prominent in 1964, with the New York production of his Obie Award-winning play, Dutchman. After the death of Malcolm X he became a Black Nationalist, moving first to Harlem and then back home to Newark. In the mid-1970s, abandoning Cultural Nationalist, he became a Third World Marxist-Leninist. In 1999, after teaching for twenty years in the Department of Africana Studies at SUNY-Stony Brook, he retired. He stayed active and productive as an artist and intellectual until his death in 2014.

Harmony Holiday is a writer, dancer, archivist, myth scientist, and the author of Hollywood Forever (Fence Books, 2017), Go Find Your Father: A Famous Blues (Ricochet Editions, 2014) and Negro League Baseball (Fence Books, 2011). Her upcoming books include A Jazz Funeral for Uncle Tom (Birds LLC, 2019), and Maafa and Reparations (Fence Books, 2019).

Stills from The New-Ark (1968) by Amiri Baraka