April 7, 2021

Newark Symphony Hall Presents “Black Terror”

Newark Symphony Hall (NSH), New Jersey’s largest Black-led arts and entertainment venue, recently announced Yendor Theatre Company (YTC) as its first company-in-residence. YTC’s first production with the venue will be Richard Wesley’s Black Terror, co-produced by WACO Theater Center, which is based out of Los Angeles’ North Hollywood neighborhood. The production will be directed by WACO’s co-artistic director, Richard Lawson, and will live-stream online this summer.

YTC will also be the first resident of The Lab at Newark Symphony Hall, a career accelerator and business incubator focused on the performing arts. The program is being launched with financial support from Newark Arts. YTC is a 2021 Black Seed grant winner — the first national initiative providing financial support for Black theatre companies across the country.

“We’re tremendously excited about the virtual staging of Black Terror and know audiences will appreciate its timeless themes,” said Taneshia Nash Laird, president and CEO of NSH and show producer. She is also the sole Black female leader of a performing arts center in New Jersey. “We’re confident that while housed within our incubator, Yendor will see swift growth, utilizing various creative and professional resources we’ve made available.”

Wesley, the award-winning playwright, screenwriter and New York University professor, wrote Black Terror when he was 26 years old. “The depiction of Black revolution was originally staged as part of the Shakespeare Festival in New York City in 1971. Black Terror was one of my first plays but continues to resonate both culturally and historically. I very much look forward to seeing it staged for an entirely new generation,” said Wesley, who also serves on the NSH board. “I’m grateful to the teams at Yendor, Newark Symphony Hall and WACO Theater Center for making this happen. I believe this is an important work, thematically, for audiences in Newark, L.A., and across the country.” 

The virtual production will initiate NSH’s “Lab” — which aims to promote unique programs and performing artists in the Greater Newark region. The Lab will be NSH’s business incubator and career accelerator for live entertainment, including musicians, singers, dancers, actors, spoken word artists, directors, and theater technical staff. “We’re thankful to be part of this bi-coastal partnership, and look forward to working with the Symphony Hall, its company-in-residence and everyone involved in the program,” said WACO’s Lawson, co-artistic director alongside Tina Knowles Lawson, co-founder. “Through WACO programs, hundreds of artists and others learn to put their dreams into action. Black Terror will be one step toward reaching that mark.”

Lawson is currently recurring on the ABC series Grey’s Anatomy and has more than 100 stage and screen credits. She will serve as director and will mentor and advise YTC’s co-founder, Andrew Binger. Both NSH and WACO will host bi-coastal calls for auditions, and each venue will cast half of the actors. Local performing artists are invited to register and become participants in the Lab at Newark Symphony Hall program. Applicants will receive access to training and career-advancing resources and opportunities.   

“Our ‘Lab’ program/accelerator will benefit greatly from WACO’s involvement at our launch,” said Nash Laird. “For this event, let’s remember, Lawson and Wesley also have a 45-year history of collaboration, including Lawson appearing in the former’s ‘The Talented Tenth.’ The creative talent here is profound – and a wonderful match for Yendor’s production calendar.”

Black Terror is also a part of a new slate of virtual programming for NSH, including Homegrown, an interview-style series sharing the stories of prominent artists and entertainers born and raised in Newark. Guests will describe the impact and legacy of Brick City, along with their contributions to the entertainment industry. The program kicks off with Tony Award-winning actress and longtime R&B recording artist Melba Moore on April 28.