Essential Pittsburgh
5:37 pm
Mon December 9, 2013

Black and White Festival Focuses on Holiday Diversity

Mark Clayton Southers is the founder of Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre Company and the Black and White Festival. The festival is playing until December 17 in the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre.
Credit Mark Clayton Southers

A decade ago, Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre embarked on a yearly event called the Theater Festival in Black and White, which pairs black directors with white playwrights and vice versa.

These one-act holiday plays offer an opportunity for local theater artists from different backgrounds to work together in a professional environment. Pittsburgh Playwrights founder Mark Clayton Southers and Managing Director Eric Smith have been working very closely with the Black and White Festival.

Southers says he came up with the Festival because of a dream that he had. “I had a dream that I saw an audience from a profile position, like I was at the Stanley Theatre or something. And they were cracking up having a good time but it was a mixed audience, a black and white audience, and you never see that in Pittsburgh, very rarely do you see a mixed audience at any type of function.”

Smith notes that typically during the holiday season in Pittsburgh and anywhere else really, people only talk about Christmas. “This year at the Black and White Fest we have a number of plays that deal with not just Christmas, but deals with Jewish Hanukkah, deals with the Muslim faith around this time of year, deals with even atheists and what they do this time of year or their views or their standpoints on this time of year. So you get a mixture of different cultures or different thought processes during this holiday season.”

The Theater Festival in Black and White runs through Dec. 17 at the Pittsburgh Playwrights Theatre on Liberty Avenue.