“We Can’t Lose the Funk”: Roger Q. Mason’s Mission to Protect Black TGNC Playwrights When Commercial Theaters Come CallingBy Marcus Scott
Playwright Roger Q. Mason, with the National Queer Theater and the Dramatists Guild, has started the revolutionary New Visions Fellowship, which uplifts and supports Black TGNC playwrights in umpteen ways. As these historically underrepresented playwrights slowly gain commercial appeal, Mason toggles two truths: these vital works are commercially viable, and yet they must also be shared in a way that does not dull their craft, queerness, and jagged edges.
Keelay Gipson, an award-winning multi-disciplinary Afro-surrealist dramatist, activist, and teaching artist, knows what it means to battle your inner demons and come out the other side.
The brainchild of activist Nzinga Williams, NEW Black Mutual Aid Fund (NBMA) strives to create the safety net and financial support for Black Theater Professionals through a time of revolution and pandemic, per the Google doc Williams created where Black theatre folx can privately request funds.1 Those funds support everything from protest supplies, bail, and lawyer fees (for protesters) to dinner, rent support, plant care, and more.
The Brooklyn Rail spoke over Zoom with Victoria Detres (the project coordinator at RISE) and Helen Park (a member of its community of advocates and a Tony Award nominee for her KPOP score) to discuss its service, mosaic of diverse supporters, and subsequent sea change they hope to witness in the years to come.