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Visions and Voices, a Black Playwrights’ Reading Series

Available On-Demand JAN 22, 2021, FEB 5, 2021 and FEB 12, 2021

The Black Playwrights’ Reading Series presented by the Wirtz Center for the Performing Arts and features first year Master of Fine Arts directing students and undergraduate and graduate actors.  The three plays were chosen by the directors in consultation with faculty and the center’s managing director from among hundreds and hundreds of scripts some which are familiar and others that deserve a wider audience and center around Racism in America, Police Brutality, Anti-Blackness, the Fight for Justice, and the Celebration of Black Lives.  These directors are the first all-black cohort to join Northwestern University’s MFA Directing Program.

JAN 22-24: A Few Short Plays to Save The World and What You Did by Steve Harper, directed by Tor Campbell

These two short plays tackle some of the thorniest and most urgent issues of equity facing our country today through the lens that we know best:  the work of the theater artist. Wryly hilarious and startlingly direct, these contemporary pieces fling us into high stakes situations at full speed; alongside the puzzled characters, we are left to try to make sense of the blunt racial disparities we are complicit in.  What is the responsibility of the artist in serving the greater good?  Is it possible to make a real difference by making plays?  Jovial aliens, fierce women, playwrights just trying to get heard:  everyone’s jumping into the fray! Tickets.

FEB 5-7: Encore presentation of Wine in the Wilderness, by Alice Childress, directed by Jasmine B. Gunter
Run time: 90 minutes, with a talk back and designer presentations.

“For a time I thought I was about to move into another world, the so-called ‘integrated’ world …  but that’s a lie.”

With race riots outside his apartment in 1964 Harlem, artist and sophisticate Bill Jameson paints his view of Black womanhood. While searching for his final model, a woman he describes as “as close to the bottom as you can get,” he thinks he has found a match in Tommy. But Tommy soon tests his toxic assumptions. Rarely staged since its debut in 1969, Alice Childress’ masterwork examines the intersection of race, gender and class in Civil-Rights-Era America. Tickets.

FEB 12-14 The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World AKA the Negro Book of the Dead by Suzan Lori-Parks, directed by Manna-Symone Middlebrooks

A woman tries to feed her husband a fried drumstick. Dragons roam a flat earth. The last Black man in the whole entire world dies again. And again. Careening through memory and language, Parks explores and explodes archetypes of Black America with piercing insight and raucous comedy. A riotous theatrical event, The Death of the Last Black Man in the Whole Entire World hums with the heartbeat of improvisational jazz. Tickets.

Patrons will receive a link via e-mail that will allow them to view the performance On Demand.


Ticket Information

All our winter offerings offer single tickets for $10 (general public) and $5 (full-time, non-NU students) with the exception of Tomas and the Library Lady ($20 for adult plus child).  For all three Black playwright readings, a special $25 package is available. Admission for winter performances continues to be free to all Northwestern students with a valid NU e-mail address who complete the required registration form.  Patrons who have a credit on file from a canceled show earlier this year will be able to apply the credit to our winter or subsequent quarter offerings in 2021.


Questions?  E-mail our audience service team at or call 847-491-7282 Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through December 16.  Starting in January, hours will expand to 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. We appreciate your patience while our team works remotely. The Wirtz Center Box Office is currently closed for in person service.

Frequently Asked Questions


MFA Directors

Tor Campbell
Tor’s experience is wide and varied, and have extensive creative direction credits both domestically and internationally, most notably in The Venetian Hotel in Macau, China. There he produced shows and ran the entire Playboy Bunny program where he was responsible for all aspects of its immense success, including sourcing and recruiting international talent, leading the training and development of dancers and performers and directing and choreographing a diverse repertoire of shows. On a national level, he has choreographed and directed numerous Musical Theater productions at several theaters in Los Angeles. Additionally, he has independently developed several innovative and unique Performing Arts programs, encompassing the many varied aspects of the Musical Theater experience, from casting and recruitment, the development of dance/voice/acting, to workshops in technical and stage management. He is a Musical Theater & Movement Professor at UC Irvine and teaches a course in Movement at Juilliard during the summer.

Jasmine B. Gunter
Jasmine B. Gunter is a 2021 recipient of the Hangar Directing Drama League fellowship and a proud associate member of the Stage Director and Choreographers Society. Recent directing credits include Intimate Apparel (SUNY Brockport), Ghost Story (Kane Repertory Theatre), Lines in the Dust (Geva Theatre Center), Reroute (24 Hour Plays: Nationals). Assistant directing: Nina Simone: Four Women (Arena Stage), In the Heights (Seattle Rep), Quixote Nuevo (Hartford Stage/Huntington Theatre Company), and The Luckiest People (Actors Theatre of Charlotte/NNPN). As well as being a freelance director, Jasmine has a wealth of experience as a teaching artist. She taught for the Berkshire Theatre Group and the Redhouse Arts Center in Syracuse NY.

Manna-Symone Middlebrooks
Most recently, Manna-Symone Middlebrooks served as the Casting Associate at The Folger Theatre from 2018-2020. She was Studio Theatre’s Artistic Apprentice for the 2017-2018 season. She has directed locally for festivals with Rorschach Theatre Company, Nu Sass Productions, and Post Shift Theatre Company. D.C assistant directing credits include The Amen Corner at Shakespeare Theatre Co.; The Folger Theatre‘s productions of Henry IV, Part I and Amadeus; BLKS with Woolly Mammoth Theatre Co.; Turn Me Loose at Arena Stage; Studio’s productions of The Remains, Translations, The Wolves, Curve of Departure, and Skeleton Crew; Broken Glass at Theater J; Scarred for Life at American University; and The Ruiners: A Modern Romance at Keegan Theatre. Manna-Symone holds a BA in Theatre Arts from American University and is an alumna of The British American Drama Academy. She will begin her MFA studies in Directing at Northwestern University in fall 2020.