As a kick off to its 21 seasons, New Horizon Theater will be holding its third annual Summer Jamz event this Sunday, Aug. 19.
“This is a great kick off because everyone in attendance gets to learn about New Horizon Theater,” said theater chairperson, Joyce Meggerson-Moore. “We hope that our volunteers get to know our patrons and the patrons get to know the volunteers that they see at our productions but don’t really get to interact with because we are so busy. This is also a way for us to raise money for this next season. Funding has been so bad this season that we had to come up with ways to raise additional funds. Everyone is really excited about it.”
New Horizon Theater, Inc. was founded by Elva Branson and a group of passionate artists who had held various discussions about the need for venues for Blacks to hold theatrical productions. Its mission is to bring consistent, high-quality shows to the Pittsburgh area that focus on the views of African-Americans. In 1992 the theater held one play annually and eventually moved up to four shows per season and received its 501c 3 status in 1997.
“We’re in our 21st season and we’re still trying to raise funds. Our plays are presented in the community so people should know that when they support New Horizon Theater, they are supporting the community,” Meggerson-Moore said.
In addition to raising money for this year’s production season, Summer Jamz attendees are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to be donated to the Greater Pittsburgh Food Bank.
“This is our way to give back to the community,” Meggerson-Moore said.
This year’s event will be held at the Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, 6300 Forbes Avenue. In previous years the event had been held at various venues throughout Pittsburgh including The Shadow Lounge.
“We’re in a different setting and we hope that will attract different people. We are always welcoming new patrons,” Meggerson-Moore said.
The event, which runs from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., will include line dancing and instruction by Olivia Johnson, raffles, light food and an excerpt from New Horizon Theater’s new play, “Nothing But the Blues,” which will run at a yet-to-be determined location from Oct. 18-28.
“Nothing But the Blues” was written by Joseph Plummer. Music for the production was done by Rodney McBride and Henry Biggs, who was last seen in New Horizon’s “Hi-Hat Hattie” production last year, will serve as musical director. The production will be directed by Eileen J. Morris.
Set in 1980’s Chicago, “Nothing But the Blues” tells the story of Theresa who has been running a legendary blues club in the basement of an apartment building for 34 years. Now that the neighborhood is under revitalization, the apartment building’s new landlord wants Theresa to pack up her music and move out so that he can take advantage of a lucrative government program.
Due to a handshake agreement, Theresa hasn’t had a lease since the 1970’s. Her new landlord will gladly allow her to stay if she agrees to pay him more rent than what she had been paying.
(Tickets for Sunday’s Summer Jamz event are $20 and can be purchased at the door the day of the event or in advance by calling New Horizon Theater, Inc. at 412-431-0773 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.)