Beginning in the summer of 2007, Black Poetry Theatre (BPT) started producing plays in North Carolina. In addition to itspremier production Black Poetry, BPT has also written and produced H.E.R.S.tory of Love: a Stronger Daye and Definition of a Hero. BPT was also commissioned to produce and co-direct The Spectrum in April of 2009 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Written by Kane Smego, the play was a part of an outreach initiative by the Criminal Justice Action and Awareness Committee. BPT is currently working on new productions including Epic of Eve, Confessions of a Lounge Singer, and HERStory through HIS while continuing to tour Black Poetry.
BPT was formed by poet, spoken word artist, writer, composer, organizer and playwright Joseph “Church da Poet” Churchwell. In the summer of 2007, Joseph was commissioned by Alternative Perspective Theatre (APET) and its founder Leigh Holmes to craft a poetic theatrical production. He wrote the play Black Poetry. Black Poetry debuted at Manbites Dog Theater (Durham, NC) in August of 2007. The production was a success and an opportunity was soon discovered. Soon after Black Poetry debuted there were requests for more showings of the play and questions about upcoming new productions. Inspired by the response, Joseph envisioned creating a theater group that would focus on creating poetry and spoken word centered productions. With the help of collaborator Dasan Ahanu, an original cast member of Black Poetry, Joseph founded Black Poetry Theatre as a vehicle to bring more poetic productions to the theater.
CHURCH DA POET is no stranger to the stage. Poet, spoken word artist, writer, composer, organizer and playwright. Church is the founder of Black Poetry Theatre and producer of the plays "Black Poetry”, “Definition of a Hero”, “H.E.R.S.tory”, and “The Spectrum”. Church started his poetic path at the age of 14 to release emotions not easily shared. His thoughts are provoking, engaging, and informative. He breathes life into the mic and garners attention with his strong voice and metaphors. His mission is to teach youth how to communicate their emotions through the art of spoken word.
As an up and coming national spoken word artist, Church has taken crowds by storm. A deep but still entertaining interaction for those listening, his message reaches out to youth of all ages, adults, Christians and non-Christian, activists and conformists, liberals, progressives, and conservatives. His ability to intertwine topics, while moving the crowd emotionally and physically, gives him a step up on most poets. His work has been a part of several compilation projects.
He was nominated at the SEA AWARDS for Spoken Word/Poet of the year, received the Harriet-Beacher Award for poetry in the community, and is an active voice in the arts community. He has toured all over the country including featuring at the PAFF Film Festival in Los Angeles, Sugar Shack in Harlem, Apache Cafe in Atlanta, as well as performing in several other cities. He's opened Saul Williams, Def Poetry Jam poets J.Ivy, Abyss, Georgia Me, Sonya Sanchez and performed with nationally recognized poets including Dasan Ahanu, Talaam Acey, and Gravity. In addition, Church formed the poetry troupe “The Experience” featuring poet Cami Brown Shuga, & poet, musician, and vocalist Kemet. He is true to the art. He is a poet, spoken word artist, a social and community activist/organizer, a father figure, motivational speaker, listener, and dreamer.....
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DASAN AHANU is a public speaker, organizer, workshop facilitator, poet, spoken word performer, songwriter, writer, emcee, and loyal Hip Hop head born and raised in Raleigh, North Carolina. He has traveled the country sharing his talents and gift with words. In addition to performing, Dasan has hosted many poetry, jazz, Hip Hop, and cultural arts events across the state. As an actor, Dasan has been a cast member of the hip-hopera, "Right is Right" and a Harlem Renaissance production, "Images", which was produced by National Ensemble Theater and featured at the National Black Theatre Festival. He is one of the founders of Black Poetry Theatre (BPT) and has been a cast member in four productions. Two of BPT’s productions, "HERStory of Love" and “Definition of a Hero”, Dasan wrote and co-directed. Also an active participant in poetry slam, Dasan has competed regionally and nationally for five years as a founding member of Durham, NC’s own Bull City Slam Team. A lyricist with a thirst for being on stage, Dasan is truly an artist with presence.
Believing that “with great talent comes great responsibility”, Dasan has also used his skill and resources to aid in developing the community and further social change. He has worked as an organizer on such issues as war, social injustice, workers rights, domestic violence and sexual assault; planned and facilitated community programs for Duke University's Center for Documentary Studies; conducted creative writing and performance workshops at middle schools, high schools, and colleges throughout North Carolina; and spent time working with at-risk/court-involved youth. Ahanu has been a speaker or workshop facilitator at a number of notable conferences and symposiums speaking on topics such as cultural arts, politics, literature, and the arts as a tool for literacy. A believer in the power of creative expression as an educational tool, he is currently a teacher for Duke University’s Young Writer’s Camp, a creative consultant and resident artist at the Hayti Heritage Center in Durham, NC and an artist-in-residence at Saint Augustine’s College in Raleigh, NC.