Snoop Dogg, actor Loretta Devine, and “Slave Play” star Joaquina Kalukango are uniting for a virtual reading of Katori Hall’s play “Hurt Village.” The presentation, benefiting the Actors Fund, will broadcast on YouTube Dec. 4-8.
The virtual show’s cast also includes “Stranger Things” actor Priah Ferguson and P-Valley’s J. Alphonse Nicholson.
“Hurt Village” centers around a housing project in Memphis, Tennessee as a government Hope Grant threatens relocation for many of the project’s residents — including 13-year-old aspiring rapper Cookie, her mother Crank and her great-grandmother Big Mama. As the family prepares to move, Cookie’s father Buggy unexpectedly returns from a tour of duty in Iraq.
Hall, who recently received a Tony nomination for writing “Tina: The Tina Turner Musical,” wrote the play “Hurt Village.” It was directed by Steve H. Broadnax III (“The Hot Wing King”).
“It’s an honor to be a part of WME and Cast Black Talent’s first play reading, especially with ‘Hurt Village’ — a play whose themes about economic strife and community are more relevant than ever,” Hall said in a statement. “I am so proud of the wonderful cast we’ve assembled and their amazing work, all to benefit The Actor’s Fund. I hope this is just one of many new initiatives put forth by the theater industry to amplify underrepresented and unsung Black artists.”
Courtney Peck, the actor who created Cast Black Talent, an initiative to create more a inclusive and equitable industry for rising Black talent, produced the virtual reading. Ian Olympio serves as associate producer, and Conrad Woolfe and Leigh Anne Smith were the casting directors. It featured sound design by Daniel Ison, video editing by Jordyn Alexis Bush, stage management by Lissette Velez-Cross, general management by Dash Perry, and graphic design by April Keomorokot and Franziska Stetter.
“The opportunity to perform at all, let alone with an established theater company, can open many doors both artistically and professionally for up and coming actors,” said Peck. “Unfortunately, this pandemic has put a halt on this integral career pathway for many emerging Black actors. My hope is that this play reading series will help amplify Black actors during a time when it seems impossible for our voices to be heard.”
It’s free to watch the virtual show, but registered audience members are encouraged to make donations to the Actors Fund.