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First World Theatre Ensemble

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First World Theatre Ensemble Re-Emerges to Usher in an Explosive New Era of Black Theatre

First World Theatre Ensemble, branded by the press as “one of Philly’s newest and most provocative companies,” re-emerges to launch an explosive new era of black theatre with Sundays At Seven Open House. Come out for a Free Green Fun evening of music, spoken word, and theatre featuring dessert buffet, addresses by Johnny Hobbs, Jr and Penelope Reed, live band Rich Tucker and the Universal Concept, spiritual street poet Mrs. Betty's Son, and scenes from plays including August Wilson's "Fences."

Swarthmore, PA, June 07, 2010 --( Sunday, June 27, 2010 from 7:00pm until 10:00pm, First World Theatre Ensemble hosts Sundays at Seven, a fun Open House fundraising evening of music, spoken word, and theatre at First World’s new theater space in the lower level of Swarthmore United Methodist Church located 129 Park Avenue in Swarthmore, PA (right beyond the Springfield Mall, next to Septa’s R3 train). As part of a tradition at Swarthmore United Methodist Church, Sundays At Seven is an open event that engages the local community. First World Theatre Ensemble hosts this special edition of “Sundays At Seven” to introduce itself to the local Swarthmore community as well as reintroduce itself to the Greater Philadelphia community. This free admission event will feature a delicious light menu and dessert buffet and include key addresses by actor/director Johnnie Hobbs, Jr and Hedgerow Theatre's Artistic Director Penelope Reed, performances by award-winning spiritual street poet, Mrs. Betty’s Son, Baron Hillman aka Beazy of New York’s MBL Records, Rich Tucker Experience live band, and scene performances by First World Theatre Ensemble from August Wilson’s “Fences,” Cheryl West’s “Before It Hits Home,” Richard LaMonte Pierce’s “Honeysuckle Summer,” and Joseph P. Blake’s “Like Kitchens On A Train.”

Known as a company of firsts, First World Theatre Ensemble, one of Greater Philadelphia’s few professional African American theatre companies was founded in December 2000 and without a consistent home theatre space, before First World temporarily closed down in 2007, produced thirteen (13) full productions, six of which were world premieres, the Philadelphia premiere of Cheryl West’s “Before It Hit Home” and Marsha Norman’s ‘Night, Mother,” and in a historic partnership with Hedgerow Theatre, received a Barrymore nomination for Zuhairah’s role as Sojourner Truth in Richard LaMonte Pierce’s “Sojourner.” Now, First World Theatre Ensemble re-emerges to launch an explosive new era in Black theatre from its new home in the theatre space at Swarthmore United Methodist Church in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania.

Founding Producing Artistic Director, Zuhairah McGill, states, “This is a very exciting time for First World Theatre Ensemble. While, we realize things have grown harder for African-American companies in recent years with some companies unable to build corporate support or maintain permanent performance facilities making it difficult to build an audience base, I do feel Black theatre and arts are in a renaissance era. In this reign of the young and the retro and the baby boomers, the desire for great quality art, music and theatre is evident. In the words of theatre critic J Cooper Robb, “ …while other theaters embrace the warm and fuzzy, First World Theatre Ensemble continues to present drama that incites.”

Swarthmore United Methodist Church released the following statement, “Swarthmore United Methodist Church is pleased to announce a partnership with First World Theater to present cutting edge, socially relevant drama dealing with some of the issues facing our community, the nation and the world. We believe theater holds a mirror to the world to help us understand its issues, and challenges us to put our faith in action… SUMC will also be sponsoring the presentations of two other long-established Delaware Valley area theatrical troupes, M-N Players (formerly Marple-Newtown Players) and Exclamation Theater.”

First World is leveraging its reputation of powerful theatre with experienced artistic leadership and relationships to foster strategic growth. First World Theatre Ensemble works toward sustainability with out-of-the-box thinking that engages teens and the community-at-large as well as develop sources of revenue that incorporate the works of and provides global exposure for local Black playwrights. Committed to using the theatre arts as a platform for change, First World Theatre Ensemble mounts a diverse array of social issue-driven plays that raise the individual and community level of consciousness through the African American voice.

This special edition of “Sundays At Seven” will provide a taste of the smorgasbord of experiences First World Theatre Ensemble will offer as well as an opportunity to embrace Swarthmore, meet new and old faces from the Greater Philadelphia theatre community, and support quality theatre. Admission is free. First World Theatre Ensemble is a non-profit corporation. Art Sanctuary is its 501 (c) (3) fiscal sponsor. Donations will be accepted.

To donate and for more information, please contact First World Theatre Ensemble at (484) 461-8748, email, or online at

First World seeks to ensure that when the audience leaves the theater they leave inspired to make a change in themselves and the community. "We need a renewed commitment from the African-American community, from the philanthropic community, and from the community at large.”

Contact Information
First World Theatre Ensemble
Jacqueline Taylor-Adams
(484) 461-8748
Zuhairah McGill
Founder/Producing Artistic Director

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