Erich McMillan-McCall


 “We’re hoping to ignite a flame in the national community to get them involved in the life of these theaters,” he says. “Without these theaters, we don’t have a place to cultivate new directors, new lighting designers, and new actors. We must ignite renewed interest in not only artists but the organizations that nurture all of these aspects.”



Here And Now – March 25, 2018: 50th anniversary of the assassination of MLK Jr. – Project1voice Schools of Public Engagement at The New School The New School Creatively Speaking Film Series — with Erich McMillan-McCall, Michelle Materre, Sandra Bookman, and Ruben Santiago-Hudson.



American Theatre Magazine – February 2018.  



I was inspired by two great quotes from August Wilson,” says McMillan-McCall…

“He said, ‘Black theater is alive, and it’s vital; it’s just not funded,’ and he also once said his work ‘expresses the universal by targeting the specific.”




Celebration of BLACK THEATRE DAY 2023



BACKSTAGE PASS with Lia Chang: PROJECT1VOICE’s Celebration of Black Theatre Day

In New York City, Project1VOICE, a nonprofit performing arts service organization, whose mission is to support and preserve the legacy of Black theatre, assembled Black identifying creatives in the Tri-state for a celebration of Black Theater and the legacy of African Grove Theatre on 9/5/23 at Town Hall. The African Grove is the first known Black theatre in the United States, founded in 1821, in New York City. The African Grove’s inaugural performance was on September 17, 1821.

Black Theatre Day—September 17—is a global celebration designed to acknowledge the vitality and vibrancy of Black theatre institutions, in the United States and around the world. The rich legacy of Black theatre remains strong as its future is constantly at risk. The late playwright August Wilson once said “If you do not know, I will tell you: Black theatre in America is alive, it is vibrant, it is vital…it just isn’t funded.” Consistent and sustained support and engagement are imperative to keep Black theatre alive for generations to come.

The African Grove Theatre (AGT), a company of Black American and Afro-Caribbean artists, was founded in New York City in 1821, by William Alexander Brown, a pioneering actor, playwright, producer, and free Black man, from the West Indies. The AGT’s inaugural performance was William Shakespeare’s Richard III, which opened on September 17, 1821. Though short-lived, the AGT left its mark on history as the first known professional Black theatre in the United States. Also, it cultivated the skills of Black acting legends James Hewlett and Ira Aldridge as well as produced the first, full-length Black-authored play written and performed in the United States; all important milestones for contemporary Black theatre. Black Theatre Day is a global celebration designed to acknowledge the vitality and vibrancy of Black theatre institutions, in the United States and around the world

Additionally, Black theatres have successfully launched and/or cultivated the careers of countless creatives from various backgrounds in all aspects of the arts. This includes many of the world’s most celebrated and accomplished artists who got their start or worked at a Black theatre at some point in their careers. Those whose careers are connected in some way to Black theatres include Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, Ossie Davis, James Earl Jones, Denzel Washington, Angela Bassett, Chadwick Boseman, Samuel L. Jackson, Phylicia Rashad, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, LaTanya Richardson-Jackson, Giancarlo Esposito, Debbie Allen, Charles Fuller, Ntozake Shange, Leslie Odom, Jr., S. Epatha Merkerson, Wynn Thomas, Michael Schultz, and thousands of others.


This event was produced by PROJECT1VOICE’s CEO Erich McMillan-McCall, with photos and video by Lia Chang/BACKSTAGE PASS with Lia Chang


Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer, activist, documentarian, and an Award-winning filmmaker and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera.



To Erich from Dale Ricardo Shields

I celebrate your artistic activist work commitment to sharing Black Theatre history. BROTHERHOOD is the only positive path to cultural growth for ‘our’ community.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.” – Martin Luther King 
“God gives nothing to those who keep their arms crossed.”- African Proverb 
FORWARD, Brother!
All rights reserved
(c) Dale Shields (2024)



(c) All Rights Reserved (Dale Shields)