A galaxy of African American artists and an important subject — how blacks can control theater ownership and operations — aren’t given the substance they deserve in “Black Theatre Today 2005,” a curio doc by thesp Thea-Marie Perkins and co-director Reggie Gaskins. With the likes of Viola Davis, Harry Lennix, Keith David, Glynn Turman, Ben Guillory, Tonya Pinkins and acclaimed Pasadena Playhouse topper Sheldon Epps holding forth, pic is something of a record of the current gestalt. But filmmaking is rudimentary to a fault, marring the pic’s chances of a wider aud at fests and beyond.
A choppy string of talking heads discusses the legacy (accented by clips of Paul Robeson) of black theater, but there’s no real flow to the conversation. Most contentious talking point is if control of the art form from a black perspective is enhanced by actually owning the brick-and-mortar of the theater itself, given how little black ownership of such edifices exists. On-camera and nearly in tears at one point, Perkins argues in the affirmative. Epps suggests black patronage is key.