Spelman Affiliated Directors Put Hands Up at Alliance Theater

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Marlon Andrew Burnley and the cast of the Alliance Theater production 2021/22 of HANDS UP. (Photo credit: Jessie Garret)

“Hands Up” is a play featuring seven monologues written by seven different black playwrights. The play was performed at the Alliance Theater from October 8 to 31.

The theme of the play was the variety of black experience in America. “Hands Up” was directed by Alexis Woodard and Arthur Bolden.

Woodard is a full-time Spelman Leadership Fellow at Alliance Theater. Its co-supervisor, Bolden, is one of its former professors at Spelman College. The Spelman Fellows program allows Spelman students to apply for one of the three-year paid internships with Alliance Theater.

At the end of the internship, one of the interns becomes a grant holder and is hired for two years full time within the artistic team.

During his internship, Woodard participated in the development and production of the first college evening at the Alliance Theater. During her first year as a fellow, she was co-artistic director and co-producer of the theater’s first digital season, due to the pandemic.

Woodard has had a passion for the theater since he was a child and directed other productions before working with Alliance Theater.

“During my undergraduate studies at Spelman, I did a non-chronological hip-hop version of Romeo and Juliet, and the following year I made Sarah Ruhl’s Eurydice,” Woodard said.

Even with his experience, putting together a play in the middle of a pandemic had several challenges.

“The pandemic has changed the face of the theater industry in many ways,” said Woodard. “The initial shock of the global health crises was that in order to stay safe and healthy, we could no longer come together. Bringing people together in a physical space is the only requirement of what we do.

“Hands Up” was originally scheduled for May 2020 to debut the following fall. The team considered producing a virtual version of the play, but instead waited to perform on the Hertz stage at Alliance in October 2021.

Woodard was drawn to co-directing “Hands Up” because it was the first play she saw at the Atlanta University Center.

“Coming from a city where I graduated [as] one of three blacks in my high school class, I was never exposed to black theater, ”Woodard said. “Hands Up was the first time I saw myself and my stories on stage. “

One of her favorite aspects of the play is that the monologues are quick and engaging. She also believes the posts continue to be relevant in America even over time.

“I’ve been involved in one version of this show in one way or another since 2016, and sadly every year it seems like the themes and stories of racial violence against black bodies on display in Hands Up are getting bigger and bigger. and more prevalent, ”said Woodard.

Despite “Hands Up” addressing some of the dark sides of being black in America, Woodard always had fun directing the play. She credits her positive experience to the cast, crew and design team.

She hopes those who watched “Hands Up” take away “empathy for their neighbors and the responsibility to do better.”

In January, Woodward will be directing “Do You Love the Dark?” and will be the associate director of “DREAM HOU $ E”.

Her fellowship with Alliance Theater ends in May 2022. After that, she plans to become a freelance writer and director across the country.

“The only thing I’m sure is that at some point in my life I want to be an art director,” said Woodard. “I want to be an artistic leader.


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