Days of Absence 

Are I Can Do Bad All By Myself and Diary of a Mad Black Woman gateway plays? Can popular works by actor/author Tyler Perry and other urban theater-circuit artists help audiences to develop an appreciation for plays by more literary-minded writers like Lynn Nottage and Memphis' own Katori Hall? How relevant is contemporary literature in African-American communities? And while we're on the subject, where will the next August Wilson come from?

Anyone who has ever interviewed Hattiloo Theatre founder Ekundayo Bandele more than once has heard these questions asked half a dozen times at least, and they will be addressed again at "The Classics in the Black Community," a free lunchtime panel discussion at the Hattiloo Theatre, Saturday, August 25th.

Bandele, whose original play Judas Hands has been nominated for an Ostrander award, will sit on the panel alongside academics like University of Memphis professor Lawrence Blackwell and author and activist Miriam DeCosta-Willis.

Most of the work that Hattiloo produces has been created by black artists, although exceptions have been made for Shakespeare, Molière, and funnyman Neil Simon. This panel is being held a week before the opening of Edward Albee's first Pulitzer winner, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf, a classic 20th-century American psychodrama.

"The Classics in the Black Community" at the Hattiloo Theatre Saturday, August 25th, noon-2 p.m. Admission is free, but reservations are encouraged: tickets@hattilootheatre.org.

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