SEASON 28 - 2021
Towne Street Theatre's
PASSING: A Retrospective
Thank you to our great panelists and to ALL who attended our Passing Retrospective on Sunday!
Audience engagement is part of the reason we do what we do and we are so glad you enjoyed the presentation of a portion of our theatre's history.
The event will be available on YouTube soon.
Great music. What a way to begin!
I'm enjoying your retrospective immensely.
This was fabulous!!!!
Many, many thanks! What a great history of this multifaceted project. What a great presentation.
Fantastic to see all of you and relive the amazing legacy that you and Towne Street have built!!! This has been a fascinating retrospective.
I really enjoyed taking this incredible journey!! I saw almost every irritation and loved every moment. So very proud to be a Towne Street member!
Thanks for sharing this wonderful retrospective on, "Passing" to Nancy, Nathaniel, Nancy Renee and everyone who brought this to life. This was so inspirational and insightful.
Passing was the first play I saw at TST; saw several iterations. I wish I could see the Solo version. This was wonderful to hear the backstory of the productions today.
Congratulations on a great retrospective this weekend! loved seeing and hearing all those great pictures, videos and memories from an incredibly productive period... Especially loved remembering back to the original Loft - what an incredible start.
We've seen Nancy's x 2, production three times both with the full 14 actor portrayal and solo twice, and feel fortunate to have seen the best portrayal of Nella Larsen's intent in telling this important part of our history.
THIS WAS SIMPLY AWESOME!!!! I LOVE TOWNESTREET AND I MISS YOU GUYS!!!
This book and play has held a special significance for me because I was raised in Harlem by New Yorker parents and grandparents who lived in Harlem during the Renaissance. Thank you for a very special evening.
Very informative and enriching from so many different perspectives.
It was so wonderful to experience this retrospective and learn this history of Towne Street Theatre! Thank you all for making space for these conversations!!!
This was amazing!!!
OOOOO WEEEEE! That was so juicy!! The letters, the photos, the clips...it was fascinating. Thank you for another wonderful TST event. I really loved hearing the personal stories and how you all manifested your dream!!
Thank you so much for doing this! Incredible dialogue & Great "TOWNE STREET" product.
What a wonderful look at this unique piece!
Throughout social media, the conversation continues regarding the newly released film "Passing" based on the novella by Nella Larsen. One voice has decades of knowledge and expertise with Nella Larsen's Passing, and that is Towne Street Theatre.
Towne Street Theatre first adapted and performed "Passing" in 1997. Through subsequent productions in 1998, 1999, and 2004, it quickly became an audience favorite and TST's signature production. On Sunday, November 14th, you are invited to experience a one-day event with some of the creatives and cast from Towne Street Theatre's award-winning production. See first-hand the evolution of TST's "Passing", learn the history, view the pictures, and go behind the curtain. This panel discussion will be moderated by Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste. Dr. Batiste is an Associate Professor of Black Studies and English at the University of California, Santa Barbara and Director of the Hemispheric South's Research Initiative.
Press Release - TST's Passing: A Retrospective
Our panel of Directors, Designers and Cast from Towne Street Theatre's "Passing" will include TST Artistic Director, Nancy Cheryll Davis. Ms. Davis will talk about her long affiliation with the book; how it predates the 1993 founding of Towne Street Theatre; her NAACP Best Actress Award for portraying the book's main character, Clare Kendry, and the continuation of the story in her one-woman show "PassingSOLO". Other confirmed creatives include Sy Richardson (Director), Nancy Renee (Director/Choreographer), and original cast members Brian Evaret Chandler (Brian) and Dick Decoit (Jack).
Towne Street Theatre's "Passing" grew in scope and grandeur with each outing. With its setting of New York City in 1927, it stayed true to the book and was immersed in the flavor of the Harlem Renaissance - you experienced the music, the dance, and the rhythm of the roaring '20s. The audience was transported back to the last century; almost 100 years in the past, to a simpler time... or was it??
Panelists for the Retrospective
Dr. Stephanie Leigh Batiste is Associate Professor of Black Studies and English at The University of California at Santa Barbara and Director of the Hemispheric South's Research Initiative. Her award-winning book, Darkening Mirrors: Imperial Representation in Depression Era African American Performance (Duke University Press, 2011) focuses on the relationship between power and identity in black theater, film, and performance cultures to reimagine national belonging, race, and modernism. Her current book project studies violence and affect in millennial Black urban performance cultures in Los Angeles.
She is co-editor of the NYU Book Series Performance and American Culture. Professor Batiste is also a creative writer, performer, and supporter of the arts. She has written three plays: Stacks of Obits, Young Love Found and Lost: Six Poems in a Circle, and Blue Gold & Butterflies. She has performed her solo show Stacks of Obits about street murder in Los Angeles nationally and internationally.
Conception / Actress / Producer / Director
Nancy Cheryll Davis is an Alumna of the American Conservatory Theatre, a critically acclaimed director, producer, Founding Artistic/Producing Director of Towne Street Theatre (Executive producer on all productions) & Adjunct Professor/Directing at USC's School of Dramatic Art. Her directing credits include The Sign In Sidney Brustein's Window and Counting for USC, and at TST, In Response, Langston & Nicolas, Millennium in Black, Passing (conception on all four as well), Sister Cities, Nevis Mountain Dew, Joleta, Five on the Blackhand Side, JackLeg, 1969, Madwoman of Chaillot, Story in Harlem Slang and two short films, Family and Summer Dreams (PAFF Film Festival), as well as numerous 10 Minute Plays for TST's popular 10 Minute Play Festivals since 2007. Her adaptation of PassingSOLO from the TST play Passing, is published in the anthology black/woman/solo by Northwestern University Press. PassingSOLO was performed at the University of Duisberg in Essen, Germany in 2016, after a critically acclaimed run at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood. The play is now part of the syllabus in Performance Studies at Stanford University, University of Santa Barbara and the University of Duisberg, Germany.
Choreographer / Producer / Director
Nancy Renee is a native of Washington, D.C., and holds a B. A. in Performing Arts (Theatre & Dance) from American University. She is Co-Founder and Co-Producing Director of Towne Street Theatre; LA's Premiere African American Theatre Company. A theatre professional for over thirty years - actor, director, producer, choreographer, and costume designer, she's received NAACP Theatre nominations for producing, acting, choreography and costume design; winning the 2011 NAACP "Best Costumes" Award for Towne Street Theatre's "Langston and Nicolas." She's directed and choreographed numerous productions, including PassingSOLO; Passing (NAACP Choreography Nomination); IN RESPONSE - A Mother's Cry, The Escape, 70's Time Trippin', Two Sandras; NOW; Zombie Tale; Is It Me; Or Is It Hot In Here; Five on the Blackhand Side; and Family Album. Acting credits include: Sister Cities; Daddy's Dyin' Who's Got The Will; Psychology of Chromosome X (NAACP Best Actress Nomination); Joleta; Summers in Suffolk; Millennium in Black; Leonce and Lena; Just Men; A Raisin in the Sun; Sweet Charity; and Damn Yankees. TV and film credits include The Closer; Las Vegas; Fast Times at Ridgemont High; and Set It Off. Nancy Renee was also the Director for TST's Musical Theatre Camp for Kids and directed the musicals Bubbling Brown Sugar; Beauty and the Beast; The Wiz; TST Glee!; Bedtime Broadway Follies; and TST Idol.
Actor: Originated the role of "Brian" in 1997 and reprised in 2004
Brian Evaret Chandler is a proud Howard University BFA graduate and recently obtained his MFA from Kent State University. Favorite credits include Broadway's The Lion King, (Mufasa), 3rd National tour of Dreamgirls (Curtis Taylor Jr.) the Negro Ensemble's 2nd National tour of A Soldier's Play (P.F.C. Peterson), Canadian tour of Five Guys Named Moe (Nomax), and the Pearl theatre production of King Lear (Edmund). Regional credits include Spunk, Black Eagles and originating the role of Dr. Brian Redfield in Towne Street's original production of Passing in 1997. He received a NAACP Best Actor nomination for that role and reprised it in Towne Street's 2004 production. T.V. credits include "Deep Space Nine," "Phil of the Future" and many New York based soap operas. He also appeared in the critically acclaimed independent film, Brother to Brother. As a member of Towne Street's company, Brian is most proud of his participation in the Towne Street Theatre's Summer Musical Theatre Camp for young people, where he served as a dance teacher and choreographer for productions of Bubbling Brown Sugar, Beauty and The Beast, and The Wiz. Brian continues to develop future generations of artist at the University of Akron's Theatre and Dance Department, where he currently teaches.
Actor: "Irene" in 1999
Trish Johnson has worked in theatre, television, film, and t.v. commercials. She was a producer with Women in Film on two PSA projects. She is the author of an original screenplay set in present day New Orleans, and is currently in preproduction on a film short about the challenges teenagers face today, in which she is writer, producer and actor. Trish’s fondest memories of playing Irene in Passing at the Towne Street Theatre are the opportunity to finally work with and be directed by Nancy Cheryl Davis, the many great costume changes and the wonderful cast and crew. This was also the only play that Trish’s mom got to see her in before her mom passed away in 2004.
Assistant Director: 2004
Leslie Miller-Jenkins is a film/tv actor and award winning voice artist. She can be heard in numerous video games, commercials, cartoons and animated films. Some of her on screen credits include Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and, most recently, The L Word: Generation Q. Leslie is very grateful to Towne Street Theatre for the love and training she's received throughout the years.
Actor: Originated the role of "Jack" in 1997.
Dick DeCoit is a veteran of network television, having appeared as a regular on both Young and Restless and Days of Our Lives; with a recurring role on Passions. Other television work includes guest appearances on Wanted, Redemption (Pilot), JAG, The Practice, and Profiler; leading roles in the Serialized Motion Pictures Desire and Deceit and Sex, Crime and Consequences. Film credits include leading roles in the independent films Tentacle 8, The Orphan, Dirty Pictures and The Lift (which received the Gold Award at the Worldfest in Houston, Texas). He just completed a run in the Los Angeles premiere of the Pulitzer Prizewinning play The Young Man From Atlanta by Horton Foote which found critics unanimous in their praise. The LA premiere of Aaron Sorkin's masterpiece, A Few Good Men, in which he appeared as Colonel Jessep garnered enthusiastic reviews and a four month run. Other noteworthy stage roles include the six month run of the Critic's Choice production of Dealer's Choice by Patrick Marber. He received one of the last DramaLogue Awards for his performance in The Cave at the Raven Playhouse.
Director: PassingSOLO, 2011
Tony Robinson has over five decades of experience as a radio personality, musician, voice actor, comedian, playwright, screenwriter, and director. He was a regular cast member of the radio soap opera, It’s Your World, which was heard on the Tom Joyner Morning Show. Tony is proud and grateful for his long tenure as a member of Towne Street Theatre where he has served as the writer/director for numerous productions including co-directing PassingSOLO. He currently resides in Indiana where he continues to write and direct theater.
Stage Manager: Passing, 1997 &