Black Arts Series

Platt House’s Black Arts Series is an initiative in support and celebration of Black creative expression, performance, and artivism on Penn’s campus. We seek visibility for Black creatives in current, incoming, and graduated classes to find, inspire, and collaborate with each other, and we aspire to repopulate and revitalize those Black affinity student performing arts groups whose membership took a hit over the past years of remote and socially distanced activities. 

Black Arts Clubs

Explore the performing arts groups who put Black culture, experiences, and affinities at the forefront of their mission. 

Let us buy you a ticket!

Platt Student Performing Arts House subsidizes student tickets to concerts, talks, and shows upon request and by availability. 
Check out the listings below and email us to attend!

▸Upcoming Events

FAT HAM | Nov 24 - Dec 17 | The Wilma Theater, 265 S Broad St.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning play finally arrives on stage in Philadelphia, in a celebratory new production, following its limited Broadway run! James Ijames’s riff on Shakespeare’s Hamlet is set at a BBQ in the South, and centers Juicy, who is Black, queer, and soft – and learning to love himself. “A hilarious yet profound tragedy smothered in comedy,” raves The New York Times. *Nov 28 is Black Affinity Night at the theatre! *

CHRISTIAN MCBRIDE'S NEW JAWN | Dec 3 | Zellerbach Theatre, 3680 Walnut St.

Eight-time Grammy® Award-winning bassist Christian McBride returns to his hometown backed by his all-star quartet. McBride, known for his “astounding fluidity on the bass,” (The Philadelphia Inquirer) brings the fire and fury of a virtuoso and seasoned jazz luminary.

THE NUTCRACKER | Dec 8-9 | Zellerbach Theatre, 3680 Walnut St.

Tap superstar and MacArthur Fellow Michelle Dorrance “is a virtuoso, both as a dancer and choreographer." (The New York Times) In this Philadelphia premiere, tap dance meets holiday favorites from The Nutcracker Suite boasting boogies, slides, struts and dives into Duke Ellington’s intoxicating interpretation of the Tchaikovsky classic. Get ready to enter a world of jazz, swingin’ syncopation and vernacular sugar, persuading us all to be a little more soulful this holiday season.

ZOOMAN AND THE SIGN | Aug 17-20 | Malcolm X Park, 5100 Pine St.

Set in Philadelphia in 1979, Zooman senselessly terrorizes his community. When he kills a 12-year-old Black girl on the street, all witnesses refuse to talk. Bereaved and infuriated, the dead girl’s father posts a sign accusing the entire community of cowardice in the face of escalating violence. Theatre In The X’s 10th Anniversary summer show in the park is free and BYOC (Bring Your Own Chair!)

KARAOKE NIGHT | Sep 1, 6-8pm | Platt House, 3702 Spruce St.

Drop into Platt House and sing a number with The Inspiration A Cappella! This event is free. 

AFROBEATS DANCE WORKSHOP | Sep 3, 4-5pm | Annenberg Dance Studio, 3680 Walnut St

Interested in West African Dance? Join WAVe (West African Vibe) on Sun Sep 3rd (4-5pm) at Annenberg Dance Studio to learn some amazing afrobeat choreo! This event is free – and no experience needed!

CANNONBALL FESTIVAL | Sep 1 – 30 | Various Locations

A wild and delicious lineup of 160+ independent Fringe shows curated by risk-takers to foster creative collisions.

BRANFORD MARSALIS QUARTET | Sep 29 | Zellerbach Theatre, 3680 Walnut St.

NEA Jazz Master Branford Marsalis, “the highest echelon of jazz tenor saxophonists,” (Los Angeles Times) returns to Penn Live Arts with a kaleidoscope of moods from the group’s latest album, its most emotionally wide-ranging and melody-driven collection to date.

JAJA’S AFRICAN HAIR BRAIDING | Oct 8 | Samuel J. Friedman Theatre, Broadway | Livestream from Platt House on Nov 14

Welcome to Jaja’s bustling hair braiding shop in Harlem, where every day, a lively and eclectic group of West African immigrant hair braiders are creating masterpieces on the heads of neighborhood women. During one sweltering summer day, love will blossom, dreams will flourish, secrets will be revealed, and this tight-knit community will be forced to confront what it means to be an outsider in the place they call home. This all-Black cast features Nana Mensah, C’05, and Kalyne Coleman, C’14!

NO POLICY, NO JUSTICE | Oct 20-21 | Montgomery Theatre, 3680 Walnut St.

New York’s esteemed Negro Ensemble Company (NEC), performs the world premiere of commissioned one-act plays by Levy Lee Simon and Cynthia Grace Robinson. As part of our season-long focus, the plays will center on the tragedy and trauma of the gun violence epidemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color. With NEC, “arguably the most successful Black theatre group in the world,” (American Theatre) we seek to elevate these vital conversations and amplify Black voices, stories and perspectives.

LES BLANCS | Oct 25 – Nov 5

In collaboration with Abrahamse and Meyer Productions of Cape Town, South Africa, EgoPo presents the Philadelphia premier of Loraine Hansberry’s rarely produced masterwork. This immersive staging integrates Black American and Anti-apartheid South African perspectives, and features an international cast of 19 along with African food, drink, dance, and music. Set in revolution-era Africa, Les Blancs asks if we can ever move beyond colonialism, and, if so, what new paradigm will exist on the other side.

ULYSSES OWENS JR. BIG BAND | Oct 29 | Zellerbach Theatre, 3680 Walnut St.

“A fiery and creative drummer,” (DownBeat) Grammy® Award-winning jazz trailblazer Ulysses Owens Jr. returns to Penn Live Arts joined by his high-octane big band, voted 2022 Rising Star Large Ensemble by DownBeat. Packed with emerging jazz talent, the group performs a mix of originals and classics, balancing excitement with subtlety, and polish with unbridled innovation. Get ready for some big band fireworks!

MACBETH IN STRIDE | Nov 2 – 19 | 480 S Broad St 

Philadelphia Theatre Company presents Macbeth in Stride, a one-woman show written and performed by Whitney White (director of Jaja’s African Hair Braiding). Friday is Black Theatre Night at the the show downtown, and we got tickets!

The Inspiration A Cappella Presents IT TAKES TWO | Nov 3 | Class of ’49 Auditorium, Houston Hall

Join The Inspiration A Cappella during their annual Fall Show, “It Takes Two.” Themed after NPR’s Tiny Desk series, this night full of duets is bound to enchant you all. After all, where two voices harmonize, hearts synchronize. 

This list is updated periodically. Check back for more and contact us if there are events you are interested in attending!

Thank you to the  partners, collaborators, and friends who make the Black Arts Series possible: