The Black Best Friend and Philadelphia Artists Collective Team Up for Wine in the Wilderness at Poth Brewery

e-Courtesy of Aversa PR & Events
photo by Wide Eyed Studios

Philadelphia Artists’ Collective (PAC) launches their 12th season with a production of Wine in the Wilderness by Alice Childress, performed at Poth Brewery (3145 W. Jefferson St, Philadelphia). Presented in collaboration with TheBlackBestFriend as part of the Philadelphia Fringe Festival, the show will run for a limited engagement from September 22 through October 9, 2022. 

Wine in the Wilderness examines race, gender, and class against the backdrop of the 1964 race riots in Harlem. The plot unfolds in the apartment of a painter creating a triptych to illustrate the phases of Black Womanhood. When friends introduce him to a potential model for the final painting, assumptions unravel and the true power of Black women is both acknowledged and celebrated.  

Wine in the Wilderness is directed by AZ Espinoza, a transmasculine feminist who makes magic through theatre.  Directing credits include the world premiere of R. Eric Thomas’s Backing Track at the Arden Theatre (associate director) and the Philadelphia premiere of Angelina Weld Grimke’s 1915 anti-lynching play Rachel at Quintessence Theatre Company. Their play All My Mothers Dream in Spanish will have its world premiere at Azuka Theatre in 2023, and their play Homeridae has been developed nationally and was an Honorable Mention finalist for the Terrance McNally Award. They are the co-creator and founder of theBlackBestFriend, a producing collective that uplifts Black multiplicities. They have been a theater educator at the Wilma Theater, Temple University, Haverford College, and the University of the Arts, and they are a student of liberation everywhere, and for everyone.

Wine in the Wilderness was the first ‘classic’ play I read that spoke directly to the Black community with no translations, code switches, or cultural exposition for a non-Black audience,” said Director AZ Espinoza. “The story felt refreshing, liberating, and exciting. It’s important for audiences to know that the conversations we are having today about how to build a better future for our communities have been happening for generations.”

Espinoza hopes the production demonstrates “that there are as many ways to be a Black person in search of liberation as there are Black people on this planet. We are stronger in our multiplicities and the first step in building community is the simplest and yet most complex of all – listening to each other.”

Under Espinoza’s direction, the production will feature Akeem Davis (he/him), Ciera Gardner (they/them), Brian Anthony Wilson (he/him), Natajia Sconiers (she/her) and Keith Livingston (he/him). Jihan Thomas (she/her), the Artist-in-Residence for the production, will create the triptych of paintings at the center of the plot, bringing her perspective as a Black artist and mother to Childress’ play.

For this show, the crew will include:
Stage Manager: Autumn Blaylock (she/her)
Lighting Designer: Bless Rudisill (he/him)
Costume Designer: Aly Gonzales (she/her)
Technical Director: Jim Mobley (he/him)
Sound Designer: Adiah Hicks (she/her)
Props Designer: Sara Outing (she/her)
Artist-in-Residence: Jihan Thomas (she/her)

For this show, PAC is teaming up with theBlackBestFriend, a creative hub for Black joy, resilience, and community. Born out of the necessity of rescuing Black characters from flat narratives, theBlackBestFriend claims the whole space to tell the full story. theBlackBestFriend prioritizes radical accessibility to Black stories for members of the global majority. theBlackBestFriend is AZ Espinoza, Brie Knight, and you (if you know, you know).

Tickets for Wine in the Wilderness are currently on sale by visiting fringearts.com. Tickets for the final week of the run, after Fringe concludes, will be available via philartistscollective.org. General admission is $30 and student/artist tickets are $10. More information on The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective can be found at https://www.philartistscollective.org and via Facebook at facebook.com/philartistscollective. Twitter @philartsco. Instagram @philadelphiaaristscollective. More information on TheBlackBestFriend can be found at www.bbfphilly.com

The Philadelphia Artists’ Collective and theBlackBestFriend
present Wine in the Wilderness by Alice Childress
September 22 – October 9
Poth Brewery (3145 W Jefferson St, Philadelphia)
Ticket prices $30 General Admission, $10 Students/Artists
Tickets available at fringearts.com
Associate Producer: Prudential Financial

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