Free panel discussion, ‘Who Is James Baldwin? A Conversation About His Life and Ideas,’
takes place on January 28

SARASOTA, FL – Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe (WBTT) is pleased to present a WBTT Voices program, titled “Who is James Baldwin? A Conversation About His Life and Ideas.” The panel discussion – one of two events being offered in conjunction with its production of Baldwin’s The Amen Corner (January 23 – March 3, 2019) – takes place on Monday, January 28, 5:30-7:00 p.m. The event is free and open to the public but reservations are required.

The WBTT Voices program features a panel discussion facilitated by Dr. Bernard Watson. Panelists include WBTT Founder/Artistic Director Nate Jacobs; Chuck Smith, who is directing The Amen Corner at WBTT; The Amen Corner cast member Dr. Lonnetta Gaines; Dr. Caryl Sheffield; and Dr. James B. Stewart.

James Baldwin (1924-87) is an American novelist and social critic who is best known for his novels, such as “If Beale Street Could Talk” and "Giovanni's Room," and his essays, including the landmark "The Fire Next Time." The Amen Corner is the first and one of only two plays he wrote. It was produced at Howard University in 1954 and on Broadway in 1965. This touching tale is relative to playwright James Baldwin’s actual life story.

"At WBTT, our focus continues to be on the African-American experience and topics,” said WBTT executive director Julie Leach. “James Baldwin was unafraid to take on issues of race, social inequality and sexuality in ways that were seen as radical at the time but are still highly relevant – while being more ‘acceptable’ for us to discuss openly – today.”

Funding for this program was provided through a grant from the Florida Humanities Council with funds from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

In addition to the WBTT Voices program, WBTT will present two free screenings of “I Am Not Your Negro,” a 2016 documentary based on Baldwin’s unfinished novel, Remember This House, which tells the story of race in modern America. The film, which was named Best Documentary by the Los Angeles Film Critics Association, includes clips from interviews and appearances by Baldwin. Screenings take place on February 13 and 14, 2-4 p.m., at the WBTT theater (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). Reservations are required (see contact information below).

The WBTT Voices program, a free service WBTT offers for the community, examines the people and issues that have shaped the African-American experience in our country. WBTT Voices was launched in 2014; nearly all programs have been at full capacity.

WBTT Voices programs take place at the Westcoast Black Theatre (1012 N. Orange Ave., Sarasota). The event is free but reservations must be made by calling the Box Office at (941) 366-1505 or reserving a seat at

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 professional theatre that promotes and celebrates the African-American experience, to attract diverse audiences, to support and develop African-American artists, and to build the self-esteem of African-American youth. For more information on WBTT, visit the website at or call (941) 366-1505.