Saturday, July 26, 2008

My Dear, Barbara Ann Teer

Barbara Ann Teer was among the pioneers of the Black Arts Movement, especially as one of the theoreticians of ritual theatre, that attempt to Africanize and thus spiritualize black theatre in the West. Ritual theatre sought to elicit the same energy in theatre that is created in the Christian, Islamic and traditional African religions, the same call and response, the merging of actors and audience, removing the separation, the suit and tie mentality of those who imagine theatre an exercise of the mind but not the soul and body.

The Last Poets came together at her Harlem loft back in 1968. We were all there, Sonia, Amiri, Askia, Haki, June Jordan, Mae Jackson, Sun Ra, Pharaoh Sanders, Milford Graves, the Aylers,Don Pullins, Babatunde, Serjiman. What the New Lafayette Theatre created under director Robert MacBeth and playwright Ed Bullins, was similar to what Barbara did at her National Black Theatre. It was the type of drama I created in my myth-ritual Resurrection of the Dead. And Barbara, as we all were, was influenced by the myth/ritual theatre of Sun Ra. And Amiri Baraka showed us the power of ritual drama in Slave Ship and A Black Mass. And who better than Milford Graves taught us the power of the ritual drum?

Barbara stayed the course after many of us threw in the towel. Her productions were transformations of the human spirit. The idea of a national black theatre is yet needed as we aspire to salvage the North American African in the last days of the West. She has given us an idea and an institution upon which to build our national theatre. She even has a street named in her honor. So let us rekindle her spirit of theatre as ritual, of theatre as consciousness raiser.

--Marvin X
--- On Fri, 7/25/08, TheBlackList[Kwasi Akyeampong] wrote:

From: TheBlackList[Kwasi Akyeampong]
Subject: [TheBlackList] Honoring Dr. Barbara Ann Teer (Sun & Mon)
To: "theblacklist2"
Date: Friday, July 25, 2008, 2:07 PM

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer's
Pioneering Vision Leaves a Cultural Legacy

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer, Founder, Visionary and CEO of the National Black Theatre , Inc., made her transition peacefully at home Monday, July 21, 2008. Dr. Teer was an icon in the healing art of Black Theatre. Leaving behind a lucrative show business career in 1967, she came to Harlem in 1968 and founded the National Black Theatre (NBT). This began a 40-year passion that changed the cultural landscape of the theatrical world. She created a new cultural art form by blending cultural appreciation, performing arts and community advocacy. In 1983, she expanded that vision with the purchase of a 64,000 sq ft building located at 125 Street & Fifth Avenue. There she created a thriving cultural and business complex housing the largest New Sacred Yoruba Art collection in the western hemisphere. Through a commitment to her vision and purpose, the National Black Theatre is a world-class institution that inspires cultural transformation, social change, human re-development, historic relevance, and futuristic innovation.

Throughout her life, she was always on the cutting edge as the world paced one step behind her trail blazing vision and provocative stage productions. As a former dancer, actress, producer, director, writer, cultural entrepreneur, and more recently officially an African Chieftain, she has won countless awards and received numerous Honorary Doctorate Degrees. However, what mattered most to her was spiritual, self-empowerment. She was known for providing a cultural incubator and training forum for artists in all walks of life. Her commitment through the National Black Theater was to offer an alternative learning environment where she attracted people from around the world whose work she impacted and showcased.

Dr. Barbara Ann Teer loved Harlem and took a stand for it against the odds. As much as she loved Harlem, she loved her birth home, East St. Louis, Illinois. Dr. Teer leaves in spirit and love two children: Sade and Michael Lythcott and a host of long-term staff, friends and family. Owens Funeral Home will host her transition in New York. She will be released in perpetuity when returned to her home town for her interment with her family who preceded her. In her own words: "The only thing you can take to the bank is love." Love is the currency, the vibratory frequency that Dr. Teer's spirit leaves for us to continue. She's given the world her legacy as a treasure chest of authentic, unprecedented achievements that will stand forever as a tribute to her vision and tireless work. Now and forever more, her legacy and love will live on to impact generations to come. In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests donations to the National Black Theatre, Inc.

Dr. Teer will lie in state at the National Black Theatre's headquarters at 2031 Fifth Avenue (between 125th & 126th Streets, in Harlem, NY) where the public can pay their final respects starting at 1:00 pm on Sunday, July 27, 2008.

On Monday, July 28, 2008 at 1:00pm there will be a procession from the National Black Theatre to Riverside Church, 490 Riverside Drive (between 120th and 122nd Streets). Services will begin at 3:00pm.

In Dr. Teer's honor, at 9:00pm there will be a fireworks display by the Grucci Family on the Hudson River near Riverside Church.

For more information:

Special Note:
Sonia Sanchez and Amiri Baraka
will speak at the service
Monday, July 28, 2008

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