Renowned director Chuck Smith in town from Chicago to direct the performance

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe’s season continues with “Knock Me A Kiss,” a work by playwright Charles Smith that examines the societal pressures on the daughter of noted anti-segregationist activist W.E.B. DuBois to marry the “right” kind of man. The show asks the question: when is personal happiness more important than the sacrifices, lies, and deferred dreams of a family trying to make the world a better place?

This fictionalized account of the real-life story of the DuBois family has the Harlem Renaissance as its backdrop, with the societal conventions of the late 1920s on display. Philosopher and anti-segregationist W.E.B. DuBois is on the leading edge of the Civil Rights movement – yet he is willing to sacrifice his daughter’s happiness to cement the family’s position in society. Yolande loves up-and-coming big-band leader Jimmy Lunceford Young but agrees to marry the noted poet and rising star of the Harlem Renaissance, Countee Cullen. Cullen agrees to marry Yolande – but is it possible he may prefer his best man?

Starring in the show are E. Mani Cadet (W.E.B. DuBois), LaNisa Frederick (Lenora), Ethan Henry (Countee Cullen), Makeba Henry (Nina DuBois), Joel Patrick King (Jimmy Lunceford), and Emerald Rose Sullivan (Yolande DeBois).

“This show provides a fascinating look at the anti-segregationist movement, from the point of view of a family enmeshed in the struggle,” said WBTT artistic director Nate Jacobs. “In this play, Charles Smith explores issues surrounding the perceptions of race and politics in the U.S. at a time when people may not be aware the fight to achieve equality had even begun. There were sacrifices to be made by those involved – and by their families as well.”

Director Chuck Smith is Chicago's Goodman Theatre’s Resident Director and an associate producer of Legacy Productions, a Chicago-based touring company. He was a founding member of the Chicago Theatre Company, where he served as artistic director for four seasons and directed the Jeff Award-nominated “Suspenders” and the Jeff Award-winning musical “Po.” His directorial credits are substantial and include the Chicago and New York premieres of “Knock Me A Kiss” and the National Black Theater Festival production of the same show, where he was awarded the 2011 Lloyd Richards Directing Award. He is currently a board member of the African American Arts Alliance of Chicago and the Goodman Theatre, and is also a theatre artist-in-residence at Fisk University. He won a Chicago Emmy Award as associate producer/theatrical director for the NBC teleplay “Crime of Innocence,” and was theatrical director for the Emmy Award-winning “Fast Break to Glory” and the Emmy Award-nominated “The Martin Luther King Suite.”

“Having a director of Chuck Smith’s experience and reputation continues our pursuit of excellence by having the very best artists among our company,” said executive director Richard M. Parison, Jr. “While there are serious themes at work, this show is also seriously entertaining. We invite audiences to enjoy this special look at a family on the leading edge of the Harlem Renaissance.”

“Knock Me a Kiss” runs January 7 through February 8, various dates and times. Tickets are $29.50 general admission, $16.50 students; call the box office at (941) 366-1505 or go to the website,, for show times and to purchase tickets.

About Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe: 

The Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe of Florida, Inc. is the only professional black theater company on Florida’s West Coast. The mission is to produce plays that promote and celebrate the African-American experience, attract diverse audiences, while using its productions as a vehicle for supporting African-American artists and building the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at or call (941) 366-1505.e website at or call (941) 366-1505.