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GREENWOOD Dist–Theatre North, an organization that produces Black-led theatre productions in Tulsa, is reviving the Darktown Strutter’s Ball on Saturday, July 29 from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m. at the Greenwood Cultural Center.
With an atmosphere that harkens back to the Harlem Renaissance, the dinner and dance will feature attendees dressed in their best as they sway to the sultry sounds of the Dean Demerritt Jazz Tribe, featuring Branjae. The name of the event was inspired by lyrics from jazz musician Shelton Brooks.
“We’re the only Black community theatre in Tulsa, and our company has raised the conscious of the community,” Theatre North’s Maybell Wallace told The Black Wall Street Times.
“Help sustain the organization,” she said in a call to action for the community.
Theatre North, Tulsa’s oldest Black theatre company, presents: The Darktown Strutter’s Ball
Formed as a response to the lack of opportunities in the city for Black playwrights and stage actors, Theatre North formed in 1977. Black actors were mostly forced into side roles, such as the maid, butler or criminal.
“When I was a little girl, all I could see on stage was Shirley Temple,” Wallace said.
Meanwhile, the Darktown Strutter’s Ball recreates the spirit of the 20s, in which Black, working-class residents of Historic Greenwood District would spend their one free night dressing up and showing out.
“Darktown Strutter’s Ball reflects the period leading up to the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre in language, costume, design, setting, music and dance. It shows an aspect of how we imagine our fore-bearers lived in the Greenwood District,” Wallace said in the book, “An Impulse to Keep” by the Greenwood Art Project.
Now that the pandemic has officially ended, according to President Biden, Wallace and the rest of Theatre North want the community to embrace a night of glamour and prestige in honor of a worthy cause.
“We’re an award-winning theatre company, and we need help,” Wallace said.
To purchase tickets, visit Eventbrite or the Greenwood Cultural Center. For more information, call 918-549-0538.