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Mon, Apr 22


Segal Theatre

The New Black Fest

A festival curated by Keith Josef Adkins on Unapologetic Humanity and Unapologetic Accountability

The New Black Fest
The New Black Fest

Time & Location

Apr 22, 2024, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM

Segal Theatre, 365 5th Ave, New York, NY 10016, USA


About the event

The New Black Fest

Monday, April 22, 2024

The Segal Theatre

6 PM - 8 PM

The New Black Fest, which is in its 14th year, comes to the Segal Center on Monday, April 22nd, and we hope you will join us for a heart, soul,and mind provoking evening  centered around the theme of Unapologetic Humanity and Unapologetic Accountability - as curated by The New Black Fest's artistic director Keith Josef Adkins. 

The diverse evening - which will start with an introduction by Adkins - will include a play excerpt from playwright and former journalist Winter Miller; a reading of an essay excerpt from memoir writer Saïd Sayrafiezadeh; a song from singer-songrwriter Tai Allen;  a poetic monologue from playwright/actress Liza Jessie Peterson; and several short films during the evening from filmmaker Nathalie Alvarez Mesen, filmmaker Taliesin Black-Brown, and filmmaker/artist/artistic director Jonathon McCroy; plus more.

Bios of participating artists and creatives are shared below.

Keith Josef Adkins (Playwright/Artistic Director) is a playwright, screenwriter and artistic director. His Great Migration play, The West End, had its world premiere at Cincinnati Playhouse and was a finalist for the 2022 Steinberg-ATCA New Play Award. Keith's other plays include The People Before the Park, Safe House, Pitbulls, the Last Saint on Sugar Hill, among others. He’s the recipient of the Helen Merrill Playwriting Award, Samuel French's Award for Impact and Activism in the Theater Community as well as National Black Theater's Teer Spirit Award. He is the artistic director of The New Black Fest, a 14-year-old theater organization committed to fostering insurgent voices from the African Diaspora. The New Black Fest was in residence at the Lark Play Development Center for six years and has commissioned three social justice anthologies, including Facing Our Truth and Hands Up -- both published by Samuel French/Concord Theatrical. Keith and The New Black Fest was also commissioned by the Apollo Theater to develop work for their new Victoria Theater. Some of his TV writing credits include P-Valley, Outer Banks, The Good Fight. He's also developed TV projects with JJ Abrams, Don Cheadle/Steven Soderbergh.

Saïd Sayrafiezadeh is the author of, most recently, the story collection, American Estrangement; as well as the memoir - When Skateboards Will Be Free - and a story collection titled Brief Encounters With the Enemy. His writing has appeared in The New YorkerThe Paris Review, The AtlanticThe Best American Short StoriesGranta, and McSweeney’s, among other publications. He is the recipient of a Whiting Writers’ Award for nonfiction and a Cullman Center for Scholars and Writers’ fiction fellowship. He teaches creative writing at Hunter College and NYU.

Nathalie Álvarez Mesén is a Costa Rican-Swedish screenwriter/director.  Her debut feature film CLARA SOLA premiered in Cannes 2021 in the Directors’ Fortnight section.  She started her career in physical theatre in Costa Rica before pursuing her B.F.A. degree in Mime Acting at the Stockholm University of the Arts in Sweden. Nathalie later graduated from Columbia University’s Graduate Film Program in NYC with an M.F.A. in Film Directing/Screenwriting.  An alumna of the Berlinale Talents, TIFF Filmmaker Lab and NYFF Artist Academy, Nathalie’s shorts have screened at film festivals all over the world. Her short, FILIP, won Best Film Under 15 Minutes at the 2016 Palm Springs Shortfest, and ASUNDER, screened at the 2016 Telluride Film Festival as part of the Calling Cards program.  Nathalie also co-wrote ENTRE TÚ Y MILAGROS, winner of the Orizzonti Award for Best Short in the Venice Film Festival 2020.  She is currently developing her second feature, THE WOLF WILL TEAR YOUR IMMACULATE HANDS, that won the Eurimages Co-production Development Award at the Torino ScriptLab 2021. Additionally, she recently directed an episode for Showtime’s “Three Women”, premiering late 2024 on Starz.

Rob Fields is a marketer, cultural strategist and art advisor. Over 30+ years, he's led cultural institutions, represented artists, produced events and indie film, done PR, and worked on several account teams at New York City marketing agencies and trade associations.  He is the former director of the Sugar Hill Children's Museum of Art & Storytelling. Prior to Sugar Hill, as  president and executive director of Weeksville Heritage Center, Rob led that organization's turnaround and secured its designation as the first new member of the NYC Cultural Institutions Group in over 20 years.  Rob currently serves on the Board of Trustees for UnionDocs, the Queens, NY-based center for documentary art. He is also a founding board member of the African Burial Ground Memorial Foundation, which is dedicated to promoting and advancing the African Burial Ground National Monument site at 290 Broadway in New York City, a National Historic Landmark and the oldest and largest known burial ground for free and enslaved people of African descent in North America.

Liza Jessie Peterson is a playwright, actress, poet and author who has worked steadfast with incarcerated populations for more than two decades. Her critically acclaimed one woman show, The Peculiar Patriot, was nominated for a Drama Desk Award, is available on Audible and toured in 35 prisons across the country. Angola Do You Hear Us; Voices from a Plantation Prison, is a short documentary featuring her historic performance of The Peculiar Patriot at Louisiana State Penitentiary (aka Angola). It was shortlisted for an Academy Award and is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Amazon Prime.  Her memoir, ALL DAY; A Year of Love and Survival Teaching Incarcerated Kids at Rikers Island  (Hachette publishing) was commissioned by The Old Globe Theater to adapt into a stage play, and she has developed a TV pilot based on the book. Liza was featured in Ava DuVernay’s Emmy award winning documentary, The 13 th , and was a consultant on Bill Moyers documentary Rikers (PBS).  Liza wrote and starred in two short films, MERLINA and Black Love Manifesto.

Jonathan McCrory is a Tony Award and Emmy Award nominated producer and two time Obie Award-winning Harlem-based artist who has served as Artistic Director at National Black Theatre since 2012 under the leadership of CEO, Sade Lythcott. As Artistic Director (Creative Duala), he is the creative heart of the institution helping to select, develop and manage acclaimed programs and productions, such as The Peculiar Patriot and Kill Move Paradise. His creative force also helped the theatre expand its reach with the creation of the National Black Theatre of Sweden. As a director, he has helmed numerous productions including Dead and Breathing, HandsUp, and Blacken The Bubble and devised works like Hope Speaks, Evoking Him: Baldwin and Emergence: A Communion (based on Adrienne Marie Brown's book Emergent Strategy). For his xceptional leadership he was listed amongst Craine’s New York Business 2020 Notable LGBTQ Leaders and Executives, and in 2016 he was awarded the 40 under 40 Rising Star award from the New York Nonprofit Media. He has been awarded the Emerging Producer Award by the National Black Theatre Festival of Winston Salem, North Carolina and the Torch Bearer Award by theatrical legend Woodie King Jr. He is a founding member of the producing organizations Harlem9, the Movement Theatre Company and national services organizations such as Black Theater Commons and Next Generation National Network. McCrory sits on the National Advisory Committee for and was a member of the original cohort for ArtEquity and Emerge NYC. He is also on the steering committee of the JUBILEE, working to help artists from marginalized communities. In 2019, McCrory was appointed to the nomination committee of the Tony Awards and he was also a member of the nominating committee for the Lucille Lortel Awards. A Washington, DC native, McCrory attended Duke Ellington School of the Arts and earned his BFA from New York University Tisch School of the Arts. To learn more, please visit

Tai Allen is a polymath. A creative and strategist committed to building better communities and supporting all people. He is a parent, son and sibling. And, he is a friend and play-cousin, who loves his found families.

Tai will choose a work title that works for that moment but it always starts with “poet.” This poet is a performer, jazz/soul vocalist, musician, producer and designer.  He has been published in magazines like Bomb, ESPN, YRB and African Voices. The poetry and short stories have found space in About Place Journal; Brilliant Place Anthology for Amiri Baraka,from Third World Press; OPEN: an erotic journal, edited by Fayemi Shakur and HYCIDE; Center for Black Literature’s Killen’s Review; and, Brooklyn Poets.  As a curator, he continues building programs and projects that celebrate or provide for the communities he loves. Tai Allen has coordinated and produced concerts, exhibits, conferences, and festivals. Every programming opportunity becomes a positive moment for vulnerable neighborhoods.  Touring has taken him to domestic and international venues. He has performed (or headlined) at the Apollo Theater's Music Café, National Black Writers Conference (Brooklyn), Restoration Rocks (Brooklyn), National Jazz Museum (Harlem), First Saturday at Brooklyn Museum, American Jazz Museum (KC), Art of Cool Festival (Durham), The Nuyorican Poets Café (NYC), CrimeJazz (Rotterdam), Blue Note (NYC), AfroLatino Fest NYC, Charles Wright Museum (Detroit), Bambu (Houston), Atrium at Lincoln Center, BAMcafe, UConn at Storrs, Miami Art Basel and The Nash (Phoenix).  A unique and refreshing artist, Tai has established a reputation as a visionary with impeccable work ethic; and community progress is parallel and vital to his cultural executions - building and providing and supporting neighborhoods with responsible and responsive actions. From communications to policy to operations to better practices to marching to direct services... "It is a humble honor to be a member and worker for the communities I live and love in."

Winter Miller makes and champions art to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.  Recent premieres include: When Monica Met Hillary, the children’s book, Not A Cat, and the libretto for the opera No One Is Forgotten adapted from her play. Her play In Darfur premiered at The Public in 2017. Select works include: Spare Rib, The Penetration Play, and Colored. She is a founding member of the Obie-winning 13Playwrights (13P). A former journalist, Winter wrote 70+ articles for The New York Times, and is profiled in The New Yorker, Bomb, New York Magazine, and NPR. Eartha Kitt once held her left hand for five minutes.

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