8 episodes

Travel back in time and be enthralled by unheard, unseen voices of The Harlem Renaissance as they are brought to life in half-hour radio dramas written by playwrights of color. 
ICONS: Harlem Renaissance in Motion is produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) and Venus Radio Theater. This series of incredible stories is provided to you for free in partnership with Broadway Podcast Network. 
ICONS was curated by CTH's Director of Literary Programs & Dramaturg Shawn René Graham and Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence Betty Shamieh. 

Produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem and Venus Radio Theatre
Podcasts edited and produced by Eric Emma

ICONS: Harlem Renaissance in Motion Broadway Podcast Network

    • Arts
    • 5.0 • 1 Rating

Travel back in time and be enthralled by unheard, unseen voices of The Harlem Renaissance as they are brought to life in half-hour radio dramas written by playwrights of color. 
ICONS: Harlem Renaissance in Motion is produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem (CTH) and Venus Radio Theater. This series of incredible stories is provided to you for free in partnership with Broadway Podcast Network. 
ICONS was curated by CTH's Director of Literary Programs & Dramaturg Shawn René Graham and Mellon Foundation Playwright-in-Residence Betty Shamieh. 

Produced by The Classical Theatre of Harlem and Venus Radio Theatre
Podcasts edited and produced by Eric Emma

    Mattie Mae

    Mattie Mae

    Newly arrived in Harlem in the spring of 1920, Mattie Mae is one of the millions of African Americans who formed the Great Migration fleeing southern racial violence and escaping to the north. Mattie’s new black female employer introduces Mattie to a world of insights and opportunities she could never have possibly dreamt of, and she is on her way to becoming a bold new woman of the world.
     
    Mattie Mae is an amalgam of the experiences of so many women from the South who made the trek to Harlem. Mattie Mae has recently moved to Harlem from South Carolina and works as a maid. When she takes a job at the home of Toot, a nightclub performer, she enters a world she never could have imagined.

    Written by Cassandra Medley
    Performed by Pernell Walker
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    • 29 min
    Nina Mae McKinney

    Nina Mae McKinney

    During a March thunderstorm in 1949, old Hollywood actress Nina Mae McKinney visits her former manager, Jimmy Monroe, in his rundown Harlem apartment. During her visit, McKinney descends into her own storm of joy, desire and deep regret. 
    Nina Mae McKinney was an American actress who worked internationally during the 1930s and in the postwar period in theatre, film and television, after getting her start on Broadway and in Hollywood. Known to many as the Black Garbo, Fayard Nicholas of the dynamic dance duo, the Nicholas Brothers said, “She could act, sing, dance and wisecrack with the best of them, but she came along too early and there was no place for her.”

    Written by Onyekachi Iwu
    Performed by Kara Young
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    • 18 min
    Jacob Lawrence

    Jacob Lawrence

    After much success as a working artist, Jacob Lawrence is admitted to a mental hospital for depression where he discusses the trials and tribulations of his life and the injustices he witnessed in the world of visual arts.

    Jacob Armstead Lawrence was an American painter known for his portrayal of African-American historical subjects and contemporary life. Lawrence referred to his style as "dynamic cubism", although by his own account the primary influence was not so much French art as the shapes and colors of Harlem.

    Written by Michael Bradford
    Performed by Andy Lucien
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    • 14 min
    Gladys Bentley

    Gladys Bentley

    It's the morning that Gladys Bentley will introduce her new self to the world, but can she get her past to leave before it exposes her?
    Gladys Alberta Bentley was an American blues singer, pianist, and entertainer during the Harlem Renaissance. Her career skyrocketed when she appeared at Harry Hansberry's Clam House in New York in the 1920s, as a black, lesbian, cross-dressing performer. Said Langston Hughes of Ms. Bentley, “she was an amazing exhibition of musical energy – a large, dark, masculine lady, whose feet pounded the floor while her fingers pounded the keyboard – a perfect piece of African sculpture, animated by her own rhythm.”

    Written by Kaaron Briscoe
    Performed by Cristina Pitter
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    • 15 min
    Angelina Weld Grimké

    Angelina Weld Grimké

    After isolating herself from the world and her pen, Angelina Weld Grimké has nothing to do but (over)think. In chosen solitude that is finally catching up with her, Angelina is haunted both by her literal reflection in the mirror as well as her reflections on family, writing, the status of Black liberation, and ...her damn skin. 
    Angelina Weld Grimké was an American journalist, teacher, playwright, and poet who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. Her groundbreaking work, Rachel, was published in 1920, and has been recognized as one of the first examples of literature during the Renaissance to explore the historical roots of African Americans.

    Written by Andrea Ambam
    Performed by Tanya Everett
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    • 17 min
    May Miller

    May Miller

    In the afterlife, May Miller reflects on her life as a Black woman and recalls a highlight of her career during the Harlem Renaissance - knowing W.E.B. Dubois. She speaks about her Black life and the tragedies of ‘fallen soldiers’ that transpired, and haunts us with the tragedies of ‘fallen soldiers’ that persist.
    The daughter of a Howard University sociologist, Miller grew up in an intellectual household in which W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington were frequent guests. As a prolific writer, Miller sought to portray black people with a level of respect and dignity that had been absent in drama. Her plays included historical dramas about Sojourner Truth and Harriet Tubman, and in 1977, Miller’s journey led her to the steps of the White House with her poetry being read at the inauguration of President Jimmy Carter.

    Written by Chima Chikazunga
    Performed by Maechi Aharanwa
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    • 22 min

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