Monday, July 26, 2010


Chakula Cha Jua Theater Company Returns with Ritual Murder

Ritual Murder:  A one act play dealing with the agonizing problem of black-on-black violence

WHO: Chakula cha Jua Theater Company

WHAT: RITUAL MURDER, written by Tom Dent and directed by Chakula cha Jua.

WHEN: July 30, 31, and Aug. 1, 6, 7 and 8…Fridays and Saturdays at 8:pm, with a Sunday Matinee at 3:pm.

WHERE: Ashé Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans

COST: $10 in advance from Ashé or $15 at door.

Chakula cha Jua Theater Company returns with RITUAL MURDER, its first major production since Hurricane Katrina. Featured in the cast are: Harold X. Evans, Linda M. Merritt, Andrea El-Mansura, Beverly Frank, Bobby R. Toomer, Jr., Christopher M. Williams, Jason Mitchell, Ceth R. Watson and Brian Foy, Jr.
RITUAL MURDER deals with the agonizing theme of black-on black violence. The story revolves around Joe Brown, Jr., a 19 year old black youth who murders his best friend, James Roberts, on a Saturday night “for no apparent reason.” A narrator is used in the style of a television documentary to interview the people who knew Joe Brown Jr., to determine why this murder happened? By the end of the play we learn that there are reasons for the murder. Reasons which are “personal and common.” Although Joe Brown Jr., and James Roberts never truly understand what happened to them, audiences will be astonished to learn the real reasons behind the murder as RITUAL MURDER examines and analyzes this agonizing problem which continues to plague us to this day.

When RITUAL MURDER made its debut at Ethiopian Theater in 1976, reviewer Akinshiju Chinua Ola stated in PEACE Magazine, “. . . its strength lies primarily in the substantial timeliness of the material." Truer words were never spoken. RITUAL MURDER was first written in 1968 while author Tom Dent worked as an associate director for the historic Free Southern Theater. The play never received a production until 1976 when Chakula Cha Jua directed it for Ethiopian Theater. Through Chakula Cha Jua, the play has been performed continuously under the banner of several theatrical groups, including: Ethiopian Theater, The Congo Square Theater, The Act One Players and finally the Chakula Cha Jua Theater Company. The play has been performed consistently for the last thirty years, but mainly for special interest groups. With the problem of black-on-black violence growing even more intense today, the time could not be more appropriate for a run of this probing drama which speaks so eloquently to this issue.

About the Company
Returning with it first production since Hurricane Katrina, Chakula cha Jua Theater Company is New Orleans’ second oldest Black community theater company (after Ethiopian Theater). The company was formed in 1985 to provide an outlet for local actors, playwrights and directors in the Black Arts community. Its goals are to present the works of African American playwrights as they reflect the experiences of Black people in America and throughout the world. Chakula Cha Jua, the company's founder and Artistic Director has been an active participant in the Black Arts Movement for more than thirty years. Under his direction the company has presented a variety of new and exciting works for both adults and children. The company has performed for public libraries, community centers, churches, lounges, prisons and in more than one hundred schools in New Orleans and throughout the Southern Region. The Chakula Cha Jua Theater Company was a regular fixture in The Alliance for Community Theaters' Annual New Orleans Black Theater Festival. Mr. Cha Jua was recipient of the Alliance's "Best Director” award in 1990 while the company was bestowed the award for "Best Production" in 1993. In 1991, Chakula Cha Jua Theater Company was one of the few theater groups from the South represented at the National Black Theater Festival in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The Chakula cha Jua’s Theater Company’s new web site is currently under development. Send all inquires to

About the Playwright
Tom Dent (1932-1998) poet, essayist, oral historian, dramatist and cultural activist was born in Flint Goodridge Hospital in New Orleans on March 20, 1932. In the early 1960s, he was a member of New York's legendary Umbra Workshop and won attention in literary circles as the editor of Umbre magazine. In 1965, Dent returned to New Orleans, to become an associate director of the Free Southern Theater. In 1973 he founded the Congo Square Writer's Union which enabled a number of New Orleans writers to develop their talents. Dent's reputation as a poet, essayist, oral historian, and playwright grew rapidly in the 1980s. Dent's poems, reviews, and essays have appeared frequently in such journal as Freedomways, Southern Exposure, Black American Literature Forum, and Calliloo. His poetry is included in the anthologies Schwarzer Orpheus, New Negro Poets: USA, and New Black Voices. Dent co edited the book The Free Southern Theater by The Free Southern Theater, (1969) with Gil Moses and Richard Schechner. His two collections of poetry are Magnolia Street, (privately printed) and Blue Lights and River Songs (Lotus Press). Tom Dent also worked as Executive Director of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Foundation. In 1996 Tom’s book Southern Journey was published. The book was Tom’s findings resulting from revisiting towns and cities which were major sites of Civil Rights activities in the south.

About the Director
New Orleans native Chakula cha Jua is Executive Artistic Director of the Chakula cha Jua Theater Company which he established in 1985. He has been acting, playwriting and directing for more than thirty years. He served as a staff member for the historic Free Southern Theater for six years, (1971-1976) where he wrote, directed and performed in several memorable productions. For Ethiopian Theater he first directed Tom Dent’s probing drama Ritual Murder, (1978) which his company continues to perform to this day. He has directed for a wide assortment of theaters, colleges and community organizations, including the ACT One Players, Congo Square Writer’s Union, CAST, Xavier, Dillard and Southern University and his own Chakula cha Jua Theater Company. As playwright he has written several plays for adults and children including the anti-drug play The Ladder which was published in the literary journal The African American Review, (1993). In 1981 Chakula became actively involved with the Alliance for Community Theaters, Inc., (ACT I) and served two terms as president of the organization. It was under his administration the group began the Annual New Orleans Black Theater Festival. Mr. cha Jua has received several awards and honors through the years including the Alliance for Community Theater’s Best Director, (1990) and Best Production, (1993) Awards; The Robert Costley Award, (1988); The Mayor’s Arts Award, (1991); The Contemporary Arts Center’s Beaux Arts Award, (1992); The Delta Sigma Theta “Artie” Award, (1993); The Danny Barker Estate “Keeping The History Alive” Award, (2003); and most recently, The Asante Award, (2009). Currently retired from the Orleans Parish School System, Chakula continues to work today with adults and children instilling in them a deep appreciation for the performing arts.

Chakula cha Jua
PO Box 15008
New Orleans, LA 70175
504-241-0311, Fax: 504-241-0311


Ashé Cultural Arts Center:
1712 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd., New Orleans, LA





Post a Comment

<< Home

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?