Monday, September 16, 2019

American Slavery Project's UNHEARD VOICES at The Sheen Center, Oct. 15 & 16

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street at the corner of Elizabeth Street in NYC) and The American Slavery Project present Unheard Voices for two morning performances at 11AM and two evening performances at 7PM on October 15 and 16. Unheard Voices marks the 400th anniversary of the arrival of enslaved Africans to the Jamestown Colony.
From the creators of last season's sold out Haunted Files, The American Slavery Project's Unheard Voices is a monologue play with traditional West African singing and drumming based on individual burials at the African Burial Ground in Lower Manhattan. Conceived by Judy Tate, 17 playwrights were commissioned to study 17th and 18th century New York and the burial ground with 419 graves of anonymous men, women, and children who lived in and around the city in those days. There are no extant records of the free and enslaved men, women and children buried there. With Unheard Voices, writers have imagined the lives of some of the 30,000 African-descended people and given them voice.
"Some years ago I was meditating at the African Burial Ground. I had been down there when they discovered the graves in the mid-'90's. I was sitting there, looking at the etchings in the stones, and the only things missing were the names. And I thought, wow, these people were buried without names. They need to be given voices. Who does that? Theater people do. We make people live," says Judy Tate, American Slavery Project's Producing Artistic Director. "This was a job for artists, for playwrights. So the American Slavery Project commissioned playwrights to study the burials, imagine the lives, and give voices to the men, women and children that history has made silent. It is so important that we tell our own story. Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

Following performances of Unheard Voices, Judy Tate will moderate talkback discussions with audience members and the company. Supplemental educational materials are available for classroom use through American Slavery Project.
Selected pieces from the Gene Alexander Peters Collection of Rare and Historical African American Artifacts will be on display in the theater lobby, including documents of sale, runaway ads, shackles, and other physical artifacts from the era.
Tickets for Unheard Voices are $32. Tickets/reservations for all events at The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture (18 Bleecker Street, at the corner of Elizabeth Street) are available online at, by phone at 212-925-2812, in-person at The Sheen Center box office, or
The two performances at 11AM are ideal for high school groups. If you are interested in bringing a student group to a performance, please contact Elena Castello by email at or call 212-219-3132 x1383 between 9AM and 5PM, weekdays.
The American Slavery Project is a theatrical response to increasing revisionism in our nation's discourse about slavery, the Civil War, and Jim Crow. ASP supports African-American playwrights who write about the era, creates conversation in the community, and provides educational workshops for students and adults.

The Sheen Center for Thought & Culture ( is a New York City arts center located in NoHo that presents a vibrant mix of theater, film, music, art and talk events. The arts center of the Archdiocese of New York, The Sheen Center serves all New Yorkers by presenting performances and artists that reflect the true, the good, and the beautiful.  Named for the late Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, best remembered as an inspirational author, radio host and two-time Emmy Award-winning television personality, The Sheen Center reflects his modern-day approach to contemporary topics. The Sheen Center is a state-of-the-art theater complex that includes the 270-seat off-Broadway Loreto Theater, equipped with five-camera high-definition TV and live-stream capability and a multi-track recording studio; the 80-seat off-off-Broadway Black Box Theater; four rehearsal studios; and an art gallery.

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