From Dec. 7-11, New York’s Harlem Stage performing arts center will present the world premiere of Can I Get a Witness?: The Gospel of James Baldwin, a new multi-disciplinary theatrical work conceived by songwriter/vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Meshell Ndegeocello.
Directed by Charlotte Brathwaite, recently named one of the “up-and-coming women in theatre to watch” by Playbill, Can I Get a Witness? is inspired by legendary writer Baldwin’s seminal essay collection The Fire Next Time, as well as the following quote from the writer: “From my point of view, no label, no slogan, no party, no skin color and indeed no religion is more important than the human being.”
Taking the structure of an African-American church service, Can I Get a Witness? features original compositions by Ndegeocello, along with sermons and visuals designed to evoke and celebrate Baldwin’s work and to provoke in the viewer “critical investigations on race, religion, sexual orientation, America and the status quo.”
The show features folk-blues performer Toshi Reagon, composer-educator Paul J. Thompson, writer/spoken-word artist Staceyann Chin and composer/multimedia artist Justin Hicks.
Can I Get a Witness? was commissioned by Harlem Stage as part of their Water Works program. The show is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, Time Warner, Barnard College and the Nathan Cummings Foundation, with additional support and encouragement from Jane Saks and the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, in collaboration with Columbia University School of the Arts Office of Public Programs and Engagement.
Harlem Stage presents Can I Get a Witness? from Dec. 7-11 at 7:30 p.m., with additional matinee performances on Dec. 10 and 11 at 2 p.m. For tickets and additional information on the show, visit harlemstage.org.