COVID-19 Update Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

COVID-19 Update from Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company’s Managing Director Chandra Stephens-Albright.

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Photo credit: Kenny Leon's True Colors
KENNY LEON’S TRUE COLORS: Screen shot from the May 16, 2020, community conversation on ‘Unsung Sheroes.’ Top row, from left: Gocha Hawkins, owner of Gocha’s Breakfast Bar; Phyllis Thomas (ASL Interpreter), Clarissa Crawford (moderator); middle row: City of South Fulton Councilwoman Catherine Foster Rowell; Dr. Calinda Lee, Atlanta History Center; Bishop Carolyn Tyler-Guidry; and bottom row: Marsha Coles-Felix (ASL Interpreter).

Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company

Chandra Stephens-Albright

Managing Director

“We had just closed our spring production, School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play by Jocelyn Bioh, on March 8, so we were fortunate in that we were able to avoid expenses that were not offset by ticket revenue,” says Chandra Stephens-Albright, managing director of Kenny Leon’s True Colors Theatre Company.

The company’s immediate response following the closure was to cancel a free Spring Play Reading Series scheduled for April and reconfigure a national education program, the August Wilson Monologue Competition National Finals, as a virtual experience in early May. Consequently, rather than traveling together to New York for a weekend of master classes, shows, camaraderie, and competition, 28 finalists from around the country got to know each over the course of a two-day Zoom event. One summer production, Marie and Rosetta by George Brant, was canceled.

“As COVID was not the only crisis that we have suffered as a nation, we made space for artists to respond to Black Lives Matter through our #RealResponses campaign on social media,” adds Stephens-Albright.

Currently, Kenny Leon’s True Colors plans on concluding “She Griots,” an annual series of productions by women playwrights, storytellers, historians, and leaders of multiple generations “as soon as we are able to get back on stage under safe conditions for our artists, crew, staff, and patrons.”

In the meantime, the company launched a weekly podcast hosted by artistic director Jamil Jude, featuring artists, staff members, directors, activists, and community leaders. Kenny’s True Colors is one of several theater companies participating in a project with the Emory School of Nursing to develop theater-specific safety protocols. The company is also taking part in a national audience survey by WolfBrown, which gauges audience readiness to return to live theater productions and under what conditions.

“Now is the time for us to closely examine our mission, purpose, and aspirations at a high level so that we are ready to strike a path forward when conditions allow,” Stephens-Albright says. “We have relationships with the community that span the 17 years in which we have been producing, and our roots in Atlanta’s Black theater community run deeper than that. We have a legacy to honor, and planning for the future is the best way to do so.”