Vancouver's Only Black Theatre Company Running Kickstarter For Play About a WWI "Harlem Hellfighter"

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Rooted Theatre, Vancouver’s only black theatre company, is running a Kickstarter campaign to support their upcoming one-night only production about the struggles of a World War I “Harlem Hellfighter.”

The play, “Welcome Back to Harlem: A Hellfighter’s Story,” was written by Tito Kamel and is directed by Diane Rogers, and tells the tale of the African American soldier back from war and trying to fit in with society. The story is set “against the backdrop of the dynamic Harlem Renaissance art scene,” according to the show’s Kickstarter page.

The original play features a large cast of over 20 actors, singers, and dancers, and with a small crowdfunding goal of $5,000, Rooted says the venture isn’t being undertaken for the money, since all the performers will split what remains after all the costs are covered.

“We are all involved in this production because we love telling stories and we want to contribute our voice to Vancouver’s artistic landscape,” says Rooted’s Marsha Regis, who also appears in the play.

The Harlem Hellfighters is the nickname of the 369th Infantry Regiment, formerly known as the 15th New York National Guard Regiment. Prior to its formation, African Americans wishing to enroll in the military to fight in WWI had to sign up for service in the French or Canadian armies. The all-black regiment played a significant role in U.S. history, helping re-shape the opinions of Americans about blacks serving in the armed forces.

Rooted’s production of “Welcome Back to Harlem: A Hellfighter’s Story” is slated to run June 14 at the Revue Stage on Granville Island. Their Kickstarter campaign runs until June 9.

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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