Pearl Side Community Arts Festival

View the photo gallery here!

The 2022 Pearl Side Community Arts Festival, which will take place September 8-12, 2022 at theREP, is a multi-disciplinary cultural arts festival created in partnership with Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY, African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, Troy Foundry Theatre, and Albany Center Gallery, specifically to showcase the Capital Region’s community-based arts and artists. 

The five-day festival is FREE and open to the public, and will feature theatre productions – specifically commissioned for the festival; visual arts – including the creation of a community mural; African drumming; poetry – including a slam contest (with monetary prizes) hosted by D. Colin, Story Hour sessions with Barbara Howard, Jizabell Lee and the RED Bookshelf, and two Open Mics where the community can let their light – and talents – shine on theREP’s mainstage. Check out the festival’s schedule below!

THURS, SEPTEMBER 8 • 5 – 9 PM

5 PM – Opening Ceremony under theREP’s awning
5 – 9 PM – Art Gallery in theREP
5:30 PM – Performance by Metropolitan Baptist Church’s Gospel Choir on the Mainstage
7 – 9 PM – Share Your Talents at Open Mic in the Studio Theatre

FRI, SEPTEMBER 9 • 5 – 9 PM

5 – 9 PM – Art Gallery in theREP
5 – 6:30 PM – Poetry by Courtney Symone Staton, Poetyc Visionz, and Jahnise Jackson in the Studio Theatre
7:30 PM – Theatre Performance on the Mainstage. ASL Intepreters will be present for all performances.

SAT, SEPTEMBER 10 • 10 AM – 9 PM

10 AM – 9 PM BLOCK PARTY
10 AM- 9 PM – Art Gallery in theREP
11 AM – 4 PM SCC’s Culinary Program Food Truck & American Culinary Federation Tables under theREP awning
11 AM – 4 PM- Community Mural Creation w/ Albany Center Gallery outside
11 – 11:45 AM – Europa! Michael Jackson Tribute on the Mainstage
11 – 11:45 AM – Story Hour (grades K-3) w/ Barbara Howard in the Studio Theatre
12 – 12:45 PM – Story Hour (grades 3-6) w/ Barbara Howard in the Studio Theatre
1 PM – African Drumming (and workshop) w/ Jordan Taylor Hill on the Mainstage
2:30 PM – Princess Story Hour w/ Jizabell Lee & more in the Studio Theatre
2:30 PM – H.I.P.H.O.P. (How Important People Helps Our People) & Community Praise Dance Troupe on the Mainstage
3:30- 4:30 PM – Story Hour w/ the RED Bookshelf (TaSean Murdock, “I Can And I Will”; Angelo Maddox, “Change The World By Changing Yourself”) in the Studio Theatre
5 – 6:30 PM – Share Your Talents at Open Mic in the Studio Theatre
7 – 9 PM – Slam Contest MC’d by D. Colin on the Mainstage (Monetary Prizes for 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Place)

SUN, SEPTEMBER 11 • 3 – 6:30 PM

3 – 4 PM – Theatre Performance on the Mainstage. ASL Intepreters will be present for all performances.
3 – 6 PM – Art Gallery in theREP
4:30 – 5 PM – Poetry and Song by Bishop Judy Murphy Jack on the Mainstage
5 – 5:30 PM – Poetry by Valerie Temple on the Mainstage
5:30 – 6:30 PM – Concert by Carla Page on the Mainstage

MON, SEPTEMBER 12 • 5 – 9 PM

5 – 9 PM – Art Gallery in theREP
5 – 5:30 PM – Poetry by Liana’Kim Perez on the Mainstage
6 – 6:30 PM – African Drumming w/ Jordan Taylor Hill on the Mainstage

Check back to see the most updated schedule!


Here’s a bit more information on the events.

Visual Art Gallery. Open each day of the festival, the visual art in the gallery features works created by local artists. Curated by the African American Cultural Center, some of the artists whose work will be on display include Paula Frazell and more. While viewing the wonderful art, patrons will be treated to the music of Capital Region bands/artists such as Jermain Wells and the Ill Funk Ensemble, Carmen Lookshire, Justin Friello, Justin Knudsen & Leccor Morris, and more.

Theatre. Inspired by the prompt Generations: Neighborhoods at a Crossroads (reaching back to go forward), three brand new plays, each 10-15minutes in length, have been commissioned and written, specifically for Pearl Side. Each commission was made by one of three local theatres: Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY, Troy Foundry Theatre and theREP. What you’ll see? UP. ON THE HILL by Aaron More, directed by Jean-Remy Monnay; SHE’S STILL BREATHING: AN ARCHITECTURE OF RESILIENCE by Morgan Heyward, directed by Angelique Powell; and TAKE ME WITH YOU by Rachel Lynett, directed by Susan Spain. Each playwright was given the prompt above (a prompt created in collaboration with all three theatres) and then worked with their theatre in the creation of what you will see on stage. Each playwright has woven a beautiful story about community, growth, and hope for the future from the lessons of the past. Performances will take place on September 9 at 7:30pm and September 11 at 3pm on theREP’s Mainstage. There will be sign language interpreters for all theatre performances.

Community Mural Creation. Using the same theme of community and neighborhood, Albany Center Gallery is working with local artist Shae on a mural design that will be brought to fruition – by the hands of the community. Join the collaborative painting fun on Saturday, September 10th during the festival’s block party from 11am-5pm. The tree-panel mural will travel around Albany, taking up residency within several different organizations – one of which is theREP – over the course of several years. Come make your mark on this community mural!

African Drumming (Workshop). Jordan Taylor Hill will lead a drumming session at 1pm on September 10th and 6pm on September 12, which will include a workshop session.

H.I.P.H.O.P. (How Important People Helps Our People) & Community Praise dance performance on Saturday, September 10th at 2:30pm. Led by Carleatha Wilson, H.I.P.H.O.P. & Community Praise, which consists of young and adult dancers, has been in the Capital Region community for over 25 years, with generations participating from all communities and walks of life.

Story Hour. Several story hour sessions will take place on Saturday, September 10th:

  • theREP’s Associate Artist and community gem (teacher, gospel singer and actress) Barbara Howard will be doing two Story Hour readings, the first featuring Me With You by Kristy Dempsey and Christopher Denis (for kids ages 3-8) and the second featuring No Mirrors In My Nana’s House by Ysaye M. Barnwell (for kids ages 6-10) – from 11am – 1pm.
  • Local Drag Queen Jizabell Lee (and two of her Drag Sisters) will be doing a Princess-Themed Story Hour at 2:30pm, featuring such stories as Julián Is A Mermaid by Jessica Love and My Shadow Is Purple by Scott Stuart, as well as some short 5-minute Disney Princess Stories.
  • And the RED Bookshelf will also be doing a Story Hour Session, starting at 3:30pm. They may even have some authors on hand to read their books aloud!

Slam Contest. September 10 from 7-9pm. MC’d by Capital Region gem, D. Colin, a multidisciplinary artist of Haitian decent, whose work has appeared in Trolley, Ink & Nebula, Jaded Ibis Press and Porter Gulch Review – who’s competed in the Women of the World Poetry Slam multiple times and has ranked among the top 25 poets in the country. There are monetary prizes for first, second and third place!

Core Collaborating Partners:

Black Theatre Troupe of Upstate NY (www.blacktheatretroupeupstateny.org/) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit theatre company based in Albany, NY, with a mission to foster cross-cultural understanding and to create more diversity on stage and in theatre by highlighting, producing and promoting performance and theatre arts by marginalized artists in upstate New York. BTTUNY aims to expand the cultural landscape and create a place for Artists of Color to grow and thrive. In June 2021, BTTUNY became the Resident Community Company at Capital Repertory Theatre (theREP).

African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, Inc. (www.theaacccr.org) is a nonprofit organization committed to educating, enriching, and empowering residents of the Capital Region through a variety of educational, cultural and performing arts, programs, activities, and exhibits that promote awareness and raise the collective consciousness of all ethnicities to the rich and vibrant history, contribution, and culture of African Americans. The Center seeks to strengthen communities by fostering unity, self-determination, cooperative economics, collective work, and creativity.

Troy Foundry Theatre (www.troyfoundrytheatre.com/) is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit professional theatre company based in Troy, NY with a mission to explore the social issues of today by collaborating with a variety of artists from multiple disciplines to produce and perform new work and reinterpreted classics through the means of new writing, devising and immersive performances.

Albany Center Gallery (www.albanycentergallery.org/) is a non-profit art space that promotes and exhibits art produced by the region’s emerging and established artists and engages, enriches, and inspires the community to appreciate the importance of art. Our vision is a community shaped and enhanced by the region’s artists, who reflect and influence our evolving, inclusive, and multifaceted culture.