In 2015, the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage presented a one-man show, Rhapsody in Black, written and performed by Leland Gantt that showcased one man’s life journey. This show was written in order to begin a conversation concerning race and the impact of racism on one’s self-image.
In 2020, The Schorr Family Firehouse Stage joined 12 other theatres from Texas to New Hampshire, in order to put this impactful show on film. The intent is to significantly increase community conversations as the nation grapples with the many aspects of this difficult issue. These conversations are intended to build community dialogue surrounding what, for many, is an uncomfortable topic. Mr. Leland Gantt’s personal emotional performance affords residents an opportunity to share their reactions and reflect upon their own life journey.
Rhapsody in Black will be offered as a free video-on-demand and is available for audiences to stream at their convenience, March 13-20.
In addition to the free performance, on March 20, The Schorr Family Firehouse Stage along with SUNY Broome Community College, will host a live virtual panel Zoom discussion session, moderated by Dr. Carol Ross-Scott, Vice President for Student Development and Chief Diversity Officer at SUNY Broome. The panel will include Leland Gantt himself, Dr. Ross-Scott, and others: Dr. Kevin Drumm, President of SUNY Broome, Dr. Karen Jones, inaugural Vice President for Diversity Equity and Inclusion at Binghamton University and Ms. Bebe Ross Coker, Community Activist, Founding Director, Black Heritage Educational/Theater Group; Playwright, Poet, and Lyricist.They are joined by SUNY Broome faculty, Carla Michalak-Professor of Political Science and Civic Engagement Coordinator and Kathleen McKenna-Professor and Coordinator of the Collaborative Online International Learning Program.Viewers are encouraged to send questions and comments about the play to the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage at firstname.lastname@example.org. The feedback will guide the panel discussion.
“Mr. Gantt successfully uses the theater to provide audiences a powerful lens as they safely experience the physical, emotional and psychological passage of an African-American. His story is timeless, reflecting and spotlighting the myriad of racial issues facing America. I believe this event provides an opportunity to openly and honestly discuss how systemic racism impacts people of color and how it shackles us all as a community. Now is the time to confront this reality and seek solutions in an effort to bridge the socio-economic divisions and disparities in our community. I commend the Schorr Family Firehouse Stage for their courage; now is the time for our courage.” –Dr. Carol Ross-Scott
Rhapsody in Black is a powerful personal narrative on the subjects of racism, identity, and self-image. Written and performed by LeLand Gantt and developed at NYC’s Actors Studio by Estelle Parsons, Rhapsody in Black is a one-man show that explores LeLand’s personal journey to understand and eventually transcend racism in America. Audiences follow his life story — from an underprivileged childhood in the ghettos of McKeesport, Pennsylvania to teenage experiments with crime and drugs to scholastic achievement and an acting career that land adult LeLand in situations where he is virtually the only African-American in the room. His efforts to cope with the various psychological effects of consistently being marked “The Other” is recounted in remarkable and exquisitely moving detail.
“Rhapsody in Black is one of the most profound and searing documents I have encountered about what it feels like to African-American in America. And the special nuances of what it can feel like to be an African-American man, constructing an identity as a man, an artist, a lover, a husband, a friend in the face of such extraordinary pressures. Leland Gantt’s voice is moving and sometimes dazzling, and his performance itself is truly unforgettable. A remarkable actor and a significant piece of work about a genuinely important issue…” – Naomi Wolf
Multiple elements combine to give Rhapsody in Black its super-powered emotional punch, many of them concentrated in the incredible persona of its star. Charming, self-deprecatingly funny, linguistically awesome, LeLand Gantt imbues every word that falls from his mouth with all the passion and poignancy of a preacher speaking the Gospel.
“We see the problems our country is facing, and we want to be part of the solution,” said Naima Kradjian, CEO of Goodwill Theatre. “We have always tried to have a diverse board of directors, a diverse staff, and a diverse array of performers on our stages. Performances like this one can inspire empathy in a way that listening to a lecture can’t. We think this can be a transformative experience for the community. We look forward to our community conversation.”
Register to be notified when the video is released. There is no limit on the number of people who can watch the recorded performance. Questions for the Zoom panel can be submitted to email@example.com by 12:00 pm on March 18. Register to view the panel discussion.
The 13 Theatres who participated in the filming of Rhapsody in Black are:
- AT&T Center, Houston, TX
- Bardavon, Poughkeepsie, NY
- Broward Center, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
- Capitol Center for the Arts, Concord, NH
- Clemens Center, Elmira, NY
- Cincinnati Arts Association, Cincinnati, OH
- Goodwill Theatre, Johnson City, NY
- Lied Center for the Performing Arts, Lincoln, NE
- Lied Center of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
- Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center, Great Barrington, MA
- Ordway Center, St. Paul, MN
- Playhouse Square, Cleveland, OH
- Stockbridge Theatre, Derry, NH
For more information, contact the Goodwill Theatre Box Office at +1 (607) 772-2404, ext. 301, or visit Firehouse Stage.