(JERSEY CITY, NJ) -- The Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents the sixth installment of the new talk series, “Black Space,” an ongoing series of intimate and candid conversations exploring the experiences of black artists in the world today, on Wednesday, June 23 at 7:30pm. Hosted by Ashley Nicole Baptiste, JCTC’s associate artistic director, “Black Space” Episode 6 introduces us to the Black queer Dominican-American creative, writer and educator Kleaver, creator of the The Black Joy Project. The conversations take place on Facebook Live and on Zoom webinar.
From Uptown, NYC, the Black queer Dominican-American creative, writer and educator Kleaver Cruz has been in community with and created work across the African Diaspora in Brazil, the US, The Netherlands as well as in South Africa. Work by Kleaver has been featured in various publications in print and online. The Black Joy Project, a digital and real-world affirmation that Black joy is resistance – grew out of Kleaver’s extensive travels over five years learning what Black joy means to Black people around the world. Kleaver is also a member of We Are All Dominican, a U.S.-based grassroots collective that works in solidarity with movements led by Dominicans of Haitian descent fighting for inclusion and citizenship rights in the Dominican Republic.
Baptiste, an actor and a veteran youth theatre educator with the JCTC Youth Theatre and the Stories of Greenville initiative, was born in San Francisco. “I want to create an intentional safe space where black artists from around the world can come together and have a human-to-human exchange about art, race and life,” she says. “This series is about expansion, and pushing past pre-conceived notions of blackness.”
“As our city gentrifies while retaining its diversity, and indeed as the world is changing in fundamental ways, being right in the middle of these conversations is essential,” says JCTC’s artistic director, Olga Levina. “For us as a theatre company dedicated to sparking conversations that lead to deeper respect and understanding, we know we need to create a safe place to listen and learn and collaborate.”
The series first interview was with Jersey City visual artist K. Brown, which took place on Wednesday March 31. Guests have included the actress, writer, producer and activist Antu Yacob; the beloved jazz singer and educator “Ms. Mary” Aiken; the hip-hop recording artist, songwriter and poet Ibn Sharif Shakoor; and a panel discussion comparing viewpoints among nine black artists from the UK and the United States are Oyinka Yusuff (UK); Durassie Kiangangu (UK); James R. Dixon (US); Michael Morgan-Gyekye (UK co-moderator); Petey McGee (US); Ricardy Fabre (US); Kirby Davis (US); Sarah Merrifield (UK), and Ashley Nicole Baptiste (co-moderator).
Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) is a nonprofit, 501c3 arts organization and manages programming at Merseles Studios and White Eagle Hall. They are committed to inspiring conversations about the important topics of our times through innovative and progressive performing and visual arts that embrace the diversity of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and enhancing its quality of life.