"HANDS UP" - a new production about Black lives in America

In association with Spelman College 

As part of our 2020/21 season, the Alliance will produce THE NEW BLACK PLAY FEST'S HANDS UP: 7 PLAYWRIGHTS, 7 TESTAMENTS in association with Spelman College. Across seven monologues written by seven Black playwrights, HANDS UP depicts the realities of Black America from the perspective of varying genders, sexual orientations, skin tones, and socioeconomic backgrounds.

"I have yet to see a show that engages with the Black American experience in a way that is as raw and demanding of the artists and audience as HANDS UP," said Co-Director Alexis Woodard.  "This is a piece that everybody needs to experience.  I want to believe when we are confronted with the pain of another human’s experience, it is our natural reaction to respond with empathy and love."

In 2015, the New Black Fest commissioned the script in response to a police officer killing Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager from Ferguson, MO. 

In late 2019, Spelman College students reimagined the original monologues as a full ensemble performance.  The project was submitted to the Alliance's Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab and was chosen as one of the three projects for development.  In light of the national movement for justice, it became clear that this project should be produced as a full production in the fall of 2020 as part of the Alliance's new season, replacing another production in the schedule.  It will be the third Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab project to receive a full production by the Alliance.  

“Unfortunately, this work still resonates, which means there is still work to be done,” said Co-Director Keith Arthur Bolden.  “Hard conversations need to be had, and we have to sit on them in order for us to come out on the other side with real change. Anything less, and the results will be the same. HANDS UP is a transformative piece that alters your capacity for compassion, and I'm proud to introduce it to a wider audience and go into spaces where the conversations are not being had.  Welcome to what revolution feels like, looks like and is.”

Lead artists for HANDS UP are Spelman Alumna and Alliance Spelman Fellow Alexis Woodard (Co-Director), Spelman Professor Keith Arthur Bolden (Co-Director), Lorenzo Moore (Sound Designer), and Keri Garrett (Choreographer). 

“The Alliance is honored by Spelman College’s partnership on this production,” said Susan V. Booth, Jennings Hertz Artistic Director.  “Atlanta theater has long been the recipient of the extraordinary contributions of the College’s students and faculty.”  

In addition to producing this piece, the Alliance Theatre is committed to creating more opportunities to amplify the voices of Black artists and lift contemporary stories of the Black experience. More initiatives will be announced in the coming days.  

HANDS UP will be produced in the fall of 2020 as part of the Alliance’s 2020/21 season. Exact production dates and ticketing information will be announced at a later date.



In light of the police shootings of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, among others, The New Black Fest commissioned seven emerging Black playwrights to write 10-15 minute monologues that explore their feelings about the well-being of Black in a culture of institutional profiling. 

The collection includes:
Superiority Fantasy by Nathan James
Holes in My Identity by Nathan Yungerberg
They Shootin! Or I Ain’t Neva Scared… by Idris Goodwin
Dead of Night… The Execution of… by Nambi E. Kelley
Abortion by Nsangou Njikam
Walking Next to Michael Brown by Eric Micha Holmes
How I Feel by Dennis A. Allen II







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