January 23, 2023
"Arguably the most successful Black theatre group in the world,” (American Theatre) the Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), Penn Live Arts’ 2022-23 season artist in residence, performs Mecca is Burning, a world premiere play that examines the current social climate through the perspective of four Harlem families. Performances are February 15-18. Each family is confronted with personal and universal realities of fear, anger, hope and love, providing a glimpse into the harsh truths of the present-day divisive political atmosphere. Ultimately, each family must choose to deal with the circumstances they face in order to survive. Penn Live Arts co-commissioned and is co-producing this exploration of social and racial themes, elevating the authentic, underrepresented stories of the Black experience.
Collaboratively written by playwrights and poets Cris Eli Blak, Karen Brown, Lisa McCree, Levy Lee Simon and Mona R. Washington, Mecca is Burning is directed by Karen Brown, artistic director and executive producer of the Negro Ensemble Company and designed by Patrice Andrew Davidson. The cast includes Yohanna Florentino, Benjamin Rowe, Alton Ray, Kenya Wilson, Imana Breaux, Ashlee Danielle, Steven Peacock Jacoby and Alyssa Carter.
The Negro Ensemble Company residency is a major program within
Penn Live Arts’ 50th anniversary celebration in the 2022-23 season,
one of two residencies that elevate Black storytelling tradition. This milestone anniversary is being commemorated in a year of world and
Philadelphia premieres, local debuts, commissioned works and some of the
most celebrated artists from around the globe. Penn Live Arts is known for
its renowned dance series, and the
2022-23 season stays true to tradition with 10 of the world’s greatest
companies and most talented choreographers. Other major initiatives in the
season include a new series, entitled ListenHear, which profiles important
contemporary musical voices, and the Philadelphia Children’s Festival, which
returns in May 2023.