OPELIKA — Opelika Community Theater is once again sharing black history through a showcase Feb. 23-25. Showtimes are 7 p.m. on Friday and Saturday and 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
“The Black History Showcase is an outreach program that we do for the community,” said Director Marty Moore. “There is no admission fee, however, there will be tickets you have to reserve because we have limited space.”
The Showcase originally began when Dr. Beatrice Allen attended one of Moore’s shows and decided she wanted to encourage more diversity in the Opelika Community Theater.
“I noticed there wasn’t a lot of diversity,” Allen said. “So, we started corresponding and got to know each other and decided we needed to do a black history showcase. We could just represent the whole community, and that’s how I got started.”
The success of the past two years of showcases demonstrated the community’s need for Black history and encouraged those involved to continue writing and celebrating Black culture.
“We’re making it an annual affair,” Moore said. “The purpose of it is that people today don’t realize the impact that Black artists have had on the entertainment world.”
Recognizing the lack of exposure to Black art, media and history, Moore uses the showcase to explore the aspects of art and everyday life that were a result of Black artists and innovators.
“They don’t realize that if it were not for Black artists bringing over different styles of dance — for instance, tap — that there would be no tap,” Moore said.
Moore and Allen know that Black history needs to be passed down to the younger generations, and they invest thoroughly in student engagement, focusing on what they need to be taught about the arts and history.
“We use the gifts of young people, and at the showcase, we demonstrate spoken word, we demonstrate singing, we dance, and this is diverse,” Allen said.
People are often unaware of the rich history and information written within the lyrics of popular Black songs and stories. The driving force behind Opelika Theatre’s Black History Showcase is to expose that.
“Every child that was in the second grade that came through me knew every verse of ‘Lift Every Voice and Sing.’ I mean, some people call it the Negro national anthem, I just call it lifted voices,” Allen said. “But the words, if you look it up, the words are so meaningful. And children did not know that back during slavery days. Songs like The Drinking Gourd — they didn’t know those were clues to how to escape and how to get to freedom.”
Opelika Community Theater is located at USA Town Center, 1220 Fox Run Ave., Suite 216.