By Jean Genet

Directed by Christopher McElroen

Costume Designer: Kimberly Glennon
Set & Mask Designer: Anne Lommel
Lighting Designer: Colin D. Young
Sound Designer: Stefan Jacobs

Cast: J. Kyle Manzay, Ty Jones, Jammie Patton, Maechi Aharanwa, Yusef Miller, Erin Cherry, Robyne Landiss Walker, Cherise Boothe, Ron Simons, Amen Rasheed, John Andrew Morrison, Neil Dawson and Oberon K.A. Adjepong

February – April, 2003 | NYC

Winner 4 2003 OBIE Awards

One of the 10 Best Off-Broadway productions of 2003 by The New York Times

Press Quotes

  • "If there is a more dauntless ensemble in New York than the Classical Theater of Harlem, I don't know what it is….[THE BLACKS] is mesmerizing ... The show is gripping in its pure energy, its overcaffeinated bluster and its willingness to set the theatergoer's teeth on edge…the production has, in no small measure, succeeded." - The New York Times

  • "This extraordinary production, which combines elements from minstrelsy, commedia dell’arte, and Chitlin Circuit routines, has been arrestingly directed by Christopher McElroen" - The New Yorker

  • "Stunningly acted, carefully directed, and beautifully designed . . . The result is provocative, visceral theatre." - The Village Voice

  • "The theater has never felt more dangerous than it does in Classical Theater of Harlem's revival of Jean Genet's 1959 play THE BLACKS: A CLOWN SHOW. Christopher McElroen, has directed an electrifying production …The Blacks is most definitely worth checking out." -

  • “Fierce political … The Blacks is phenomenal--fiery, gutsy, well-acted and beautifully designed." -

  • "Directed with fire and precision by Christopher McElroen … A must-see … Utterly fearless ...  raw and thrilling to watch … this is what true social and political theater can and should be… a theatrical tour de force" -

  • "A theatrical revelation . . .visceral, exciting, and illuminating." -

  • "THE BLACKS is raw and volatile, but that's the thrill of live theatre, an element missing from too many shows." - Backstage

  • "Exhilarating, infuriating, exciting, wildly and wonderfully theatrical." - American Theater Web

  • "Late in the show, a young man of no more than 14 turned to me and expressed incredulity at the events going on around us. Worriedly, he wondered if white people might be too afraid to come to Harlem after the experience. "I never saw a play like this before," he told me, then asked. "Is this still theater?" Moments later he asked me to feel his heart. It was racing." -