What Does Crossroads Theatre Project Do?
Crossroads Theatre Project brings works of fantasy, sci-fi, and horror to life and turns the straight white male default on its head.
To do this, Crossroads Theatre Project gives underrepresented theatre artists the chance to show their stuff and challenge what is possible for genre stories by and about people of African descent.
Why Does Crossroads Theatre Project Matter?
Stories are powerful. They not only tell us who we are and what we can do but also what we can dream and what we can be. Stories shared between people in the same space are intimate and immediate.
Fantasy, horror, and sci-fi inspire us to imagine other worlds, challenge us to think about how technology influences society, and force us to name and face our fears. The fantasy, sci-fi, and horror that are popular today influences what we will see and create in the future.
Unfortunately, such stories by and about people of African descent remain rare on America's stages and screens despite the fact that there are roughly 1 billion people of African descent living today, over 40 million of whom live in the United States.
This limits opportunities for theatre artists of African descent. It deprives genre storytelling of depth and complexity. It robs theatre of richness, variety, meaning, and vitality.
Crossroads Theatre Project is changing that one play at a time.
Why Do You Call It Crossroads Theatre Project?
In the folklore of New Orleans Vodou and the Mississippi Delta, the crossroads are a place where the human world connects with the world of the unseen. You can speak with the dead, meet your departed ancestors, even sell your soul to the Devil. If you come to the crossroads one midnight, there's no telling what you will find.
This act of connecting the seen with the unseen is what makes Crossroads Theatre Project what it is. It connects fantasy, sci-fi, and horror with theatre artists of African descent. It also connects different identities by making stories by and about people of African decent who are also women, LGBT, disabled, and/or poor or working class.
Crossroads Theatre Project takes inspiration from Eshu, one of the most venerated spirits of Yoruba and Vodou. As a guide and protector of travelers and the deity of roads (particularly the crossroads), Eshu is fluid and transgressive, embodying ambiguity and paradox. Crossroads Theatre Project emulates the spirit of Eshu by pushing the boundaries of what's expected from theatre artists of African descent.
Who Is That In The Picture, And Why Is That Dog There?
If you're familiar with Tarot, you may recognize that image as the Fool and his/her dog. The fool marks the beginning of life's journey, where all things are possible, and no one has any idea what will happen next.
The choice of using the Fool came about because Crossroads Theatre Project takes inspiration from Eshu, one of the most venerated beings in Yoruba and Vodou. As a guide and protector of travelers and the deity of roads (particularly the crossroads), Eshu is fluid and transgressive, embodying ambiguity and paradox. Crossroads Theatre Project emulates the spirit of Eshu by pushing the boundaries of what's expected from theatre artists of African descent. And, as it so happens, the dog is Eshu's sacred animal.
Who Came Up With Crossroads Theatre Project?
In 2010, Shawn C. Harris founded Crossroads Theatre Project to develop plays that challenge assumptions about stories by and about people of African descent.
Shawn is a playwright from Richmond, Virginia who has written, developed, and produced plays in New York City's indie theatre scene. A passionate advocate for improving diversity in theatre, her plays consistently feature meaty roles for women, people of color, and LGBTQ people.
Shawn has written plays about a celebrity crawling out of a television, a pirate falling in love with a sorceress, a mortal being lured away into the world of an elf king, talking dolls, and a cop who claims he shot a werewolf. Her work has been presented at The Cell Theatre's Blackboard Play Reading Series and WOW Cafe Theatre.
When she's not writing plays, Shawn is going to the movies, playing with her dogs, or contributing to her column on The Clyde Fitch Report.
Where Can I Find Crossroads Theatre Project Online?
How Can I Help?
First of all, thank you. Your passion and willingness to help mean a lot. If you have time and energy, Crossroads Theatre Project is always on the lookout for: