Live Garra Theatre     
North of the Drinking Gourd
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Live Garra


History

In September 1999, the organization incorporated as the InnerCircle Repertory Theatre; presenting numerous productions throughout Montgomery County. In 2001, “Greens” was performed at the NOAA Space and the Company traveled to Winston Salem, NC to participate in the National Black Theatre Festival. In 2002, SOUL-II- SOUL: “What Makes a Poet Breathe?” was presented at the Innervisions’ bookstore in Silver Spring. In October 2004, the ICRT presented the “Clothesline Project” at Magical Montgomery and in 2005 Artistic Director, Wanda Whiteside was awarded Montgomery’s Best Honoree community award.

The Company opened the Bonifant Theatre Space in downtown Silver Spring in 2009 and for three years, the organization presented over 35 events; from producing “A Night in Tunisia” in 2010, the main stage production of "Chicks", a staged-reading of "Misfortune of Kings" to host venue, as the Zora Neale Hurston Stage, for the DC Black Theatre Festival in 2011. The Company changed its name to Live Garra Theatre and in January 2012, moved “One Flight Up” in the loft space above the Bonifant Theatre Space. In collaboration with the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc., as part of the ‘Sparkle’ program, the organization presented "Age on Stage: Theatre Arts for Elders".

In January 2013, the Company produced a special staged-reading of “To Touch the Sky” which addresses mental illness.  The organization recently received two grant awards from the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County to implement the Bonifant Bridgeway Project, a mentoring program for at-risk youths and another to present Waiting for Godot in 2014 which speaks to the issue of homelessness.

The idea that Theatre is a healing balm was the premise of project. The showcase of the play, "Waiting for Godot" by Samuel Becket; a play about two drifters - homeless, full of yearning, accepting human perplexity was an outgrowth of a series of workshops held over a six-month period. The Godot Workshops were held at Sunday hospitalities at St Luke's Church in Silver Spring. Live Garra Theatre fellowshipped and served lunch, giving clothing and toiletries to our local wayfarers in the community. Some of the St. Luke's hospitality participants said "It’s therapeutic!" Live Garra Theatre also held weekly workshops at the Carroll House in Silver Spring, a 32-bed homeless shelter for men in transition, providing personal items to the residents. The participants taught the facilitators the meaning of "grace". Some responses from our workshop sessions were: "grace is a gift that I don't deserve or earned; Grace is effortless talent executed with tactfulness superimposed with softness; thankful that you are born to do something good in the world; Boniface said, waiting on the grace of God.

In June of 2014, as a member of the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring, Live Garra Theatre was awarded the Montgomery County contract to manage the Silver Spring Black Box Theater. And in October 2014, Live Garra Theatre produced Ain't Misbehavin' as its debut performance at the Theater.

The Company has been growing in leaps and bounds, as a resident company member of the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring (TCSS), the organization strives to serve the best interest of the community. This has been an exciting time, full of creative energy and activity; community outreach initiatives include the "Blue Streak New Plays" festival and the participation in the Women’s Voices Theater festival with its production of “A Matter of Worth,” receiving 5-star reviews; all of which have positively impacted on the vital living for community dwellers. In June 2016, the Company celebrated Caribbean Heritage Month:  The Live Garra Caribbean Cultural Theatre Festival Kicked off with "Pan Lara" steel drum band and a play reading of Melting Pot Blues by Chris Gardiner. Live Garra Theatre hosted a week-long festival, highlighting the works of Caribbean playwrights: the World premiere of "Nutmeg & Cocoa" by Harlan Penn, a Romeo and Juliet story centered on the invasion of Grenada in 1983 about a young girl who falls in love with an American student at the same time her country is falling apart; And as a special "after dark" presentation, "Resident Alien" by Claire Nelson delighted audiences spinning memories of Caribbean life and a Jamaican woman’s pursuit to find a man to marry her and obtain a green card. Love conquers all: war and finding a Justice of the Peace.

October 2016, Live Garra Theatre addressed the issue of racism with a new play, "A Matter of Perspective"- eight people deliberate the guilt or innocence of a young black man arrested by two white police officers. Their divergent perspectives uncover deeply-rooted prejudices, exposing a broken American justice system that stares hatred in the face.

Wanda Whiteside, founder of Live Garra Theatre received an Honorable Citation from the Maryland State House of Delegates for her work with the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.  She served on the Directors’ panel for the 17th annual Playwrights Forum Conference at Arena Stage, Washington, DC and participated in the 2014 & 2016 NAACP ACT-SO Award Competition as a Judge of Dramatic Arts.

Wanda is on the advisory board and founding board member of the Silver Spring Town Center, Inc.  She is a board member of the Theatre Consortium of Silver Spring. She was a presenter at the Black Theatre Symposium 2016 hosted by the University of Maryland re: state of affairs of Black Theatre in America.  Wanda holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre, a Masters of Science in Business Management and is currently a Doctoral candidate (Ed.D) studying Organizational leadership.

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