New production by award-winning playwright shines light on police brutality

Trudy Tomlinson | 6/15/2017, 11:47 a.m.
National Black Theatre in Harlem is closing its 48th season with the world premiere of “Kill Move Paradise.”
National Black Theater

National Black Theatre in Harlem is closing its 48th season with the world premiere of “Kill Move Paradise.” The piece by award-winning playwright James Ijames in his New York City debut portrays Black men killed by police, vigilantes and racists as they find themselves suddenly ripped from their lives and adjusting to

their new world.

Ryan Jamaal Swain, Donnell E. Smith, Clinton Lowe and Sidiki Fofana will star in the play, which will open at Dr. Barbara Ann Teer’s National Black Theatre.

The show previewed Wednesday, May 31, and runs through Sunday, June 25.

Set in an otherworldly place, “Kill Move Paradise” follows four Black males—Swain as Isa, Smith as Grif, Lowe as Daz and Fofana as Tiny. Ripped prematurely from Earth by police brutality, vigilante “justice” and racist acts, they confront the reality of their pasts and scramble to make sense of their new world.

Inspired by recent events, “Kill Move Paradise” is an expressionistic buzz saw through the contemporary myth that “all lives matter,” a portrait of the slain, not as degenerates deserving death, but as heroes demanding we see them for the glorious beings they are.

“We wanted to flip the narrative surrounding the oppressive tropes that keep us feeling helpless and stuck as a community,” said Director of Theatre Arts at the National Black Theatre Jonathan McCrory. “With ‘Kill Move Paradise,’ we are seeking to inspire our community to remember the power of joy as a tool of resistance, a mechanism forged as our sacred birthright to gain freedom in the midst of oppression.”

Performances will run Sundays at 4 p.m. and Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., with a Saturday matinee at 2 p.m. Tickets are $35 general admission with the following exceptions: All seats during the final week are $40. A discounted ticket price of $25 is available for groups of 10 or more, senior citizens, students, active military members and veterans. Tickets can be purchased online at www.nationalblacktheatre.org, by calling NBT directly at 212-722-3800 or at National Black Theatre box office, open from 1 to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday.

Saheem Ali (“Nollywood,” “The Booty Call,” and “The Erlkings”) will direct. The provocative production closes the historic theater’s 48th season, “In Pursuit of Black Joy.”

National Black Theatre is located at 2031 Fifth Ave. between 125th and 126th streets in Harlem. (Take the 2, 3, 4, 5 or 6 subway to 125th Street.)