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CROWNS - A Musical by Regina Taylor

Directed by Sharia Benn

Crowns is the story of a Chicago teenager who, sent to live with her grandmother in South Carolina, finds connection among a community of resilient African American women in their church hats. Weaving together faith, fashion and family, Crowns is an inspirational, joyous musical celebration of love and redemption that will make your spirit sing! ​

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Stories of the Old Eighth Ward
Directed by Sharia Benn

Echoes of Voices of the Eighth is a journey that transcends time to connect two African American teens from the same Harrisburg neighborhood. This heartwarming story connects the young and old, past and present, and gone but not forgotten, to celebrate the history-making contributions of African Americans who lived in the Old Eighth Ward.

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Do You Know Me?
Sharia Benn

Directed by Sharia Benn

“Do You Know Me?” is an original digital performance episode by Sharia Benn. Combining history and drama, the piece takes us on a journey through poetry, letters, and the underground railroad, highlighting the words of influential local and national African American leaders. “Do You Know Me?” connects student audiences to Harrisburg's rich history of abolitionists and civil rights activists who worked to end slavery, secure the vote, and challenge the segregation that continues to plague our communities. 

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Our Interconnected World


Firebird Suite

Igor Stravinsky

The Firebird Suite features an original narration & dramatization, The People Could Fly, created by Sankofa African American Theatre Company, an adaptation of the African tale merged with Stravinsky’s orchestral work and the Russian folktale of enslavement, reawakening, and hope that had been the composer’s genesis for his composition.

Charlayne Woodard

Directed by Lyeneal Griffin 


On almost bare stage the lyrical, lifting words of Charlayne Woodard begin weaving stories of two young sisters through three generations of African American family love, struggle and triumph in their small world of Albany, New York and the hilltop black town of Rosignol Hill, Georgia where they experience the ironic “pretty fire” of the title. PRETTY FIRE is an enthralling, authentic and mesmerizing celebration of life. Filled with earthy humor, it takes the audience on a universal journey through a world in which the family bond is as strong as steel.

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Directed by Sharia Benn 

Produced by Open Stage of Harrisburg in partnership

with Sankofa African American Theatre Company. 

For Colored Girls Who Wave Considered Suicide / When The Rainbow is Enuf is Ntozake Shange's first work and most acclaimed theater piece, which premiered in 1976. It consists of a series of poetic monologues to be accompanied by dance movements and music, a form Shange coined as the choreopoem.



Co-Directed by Sharia Benn and Stuart Landon

Produced by Open Stage of Harrisburg

in partnership with Sankofa African American Theatre Company production.

Based on the smart, feel-good movie, Akeelah and the Bee tells the story of an independent 11-year-old from South Side, Chicago whose razor-sharp mind keeps her one step ahead of the game in the neighborhood... but is it enough to get her to the top? Akeelah must turn to family, friends, and a few unlikely mentors if she's going to survive the final round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. 

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Directed by Sharia Benn


Sankofa African American Theatre Company and Gamut Theatre join together to present Voices of F.E.W. A theatrical one-woman show that chronicles the life of Frances Ellen Watkins-Harper, a pioneering social activist and abolitionist.

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Bridge (the gap), scripted by Sharia Benn with poetry by Maria James-Thiaw, is a new work born out of the collective creation and collaborative partnerships between Sankofa African American Theatre Company, Reclaim Artist Collective and The Capital BlueCross Theatre.  

Love. Hate. History. Framed together...Bridge (the gap) A spoken word, music-infused new theatrical work exploring the divide between people and perceptions that leave lives hanging in the balance.

Voices of the Eighth - Rhythms of Resili


Voices of the Eighth features real-life stories from Harrisburg’s Old Eighth Ward, one of the most diverse communities located in Pennsylvania from the late 1700’s through its demolition in 1925 to make way for the new PA Capitol Complex.  The play utilizes research as developed by historians at Messiah College and will feature music, projected photos from the time, and original poetry written by students from Harrisburg High School – Sci Tech Campus.  The presentation also celebrates the Commonwealth Monument, a historical landmark commemorating the Old Eighth Ward and slated for completion in 2020.

Scripted and Directed by Sharia Benn​

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Directed by Sharia Benn

Music Arranged by Aaron Robinson

Music Directed by Cheryl Hawkins

 Choreography by  Reg Haywood

Langston Hughes’ BLACK NATIVITY a retelling of Christianity’s Nativity Story set to jubilant gospel music incorporates dialog, folk spirituals, traditional carols, dramatic dance, and Biblical narrative. The Christmas story expresses African American spirituality and the oral traditions of the African American church.


VOTE CHRONICLES II: Stories from the Old Eighth Ward

Voices of the Eighth Chronicles II: Stories from Harrisburg’s old Eighth Ward is an original collage of storytelling by Sharia Benn that fuses imagery, movement, sound, and music to uplift the work of chain-breakers and change-makers from Harrisburg’s demolished Eighth Ward. This original work pays homage to the resilient spirit of the nineteenth and twentieth-century African American liberators, educators, orators, and writers who fought to build a community of freedom and belonging.  Meet these vibrant personalities as seen through the eyes of the Sankofa bird who reminds us that to ensure a strong future, we must first understand the past.

Voices of the Eighth Chronicles II is a Winter Partnership Production of  Sankofa African American Theatre Company and Gamut Theatre.

Photo/Video Credits

Haley Harned  |  John Bivens  |  Shawn Oliveria  |  Johntrae Williams  |  File Image sources SankofaAATC  |  Gamut Theatre  |  Open Stage

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