Black owned, operated theatre company works to restore the Black family one story at a time

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WASHINGTON – Restoration Stage, Inc., is only Black owned and operated theater company in the Washington, D.C. area.

The performances have been called sensual, captivating, thought provoking, and true.

“There are a lot of people who seek to tell our story, who sort of know our story, or know what they have heard about our story,” expressed Courtney Baker-Oliver, artistic director and co-founder of Restoration Stage.

Baker-Oliver took DCW50 behind the scenes of their latest production, “The Very Last Days of the First Colored Circus.”

“This is about Black love, this is about love existing, thriving, persevering, despite every imaginable obstacle, there is still a reason, a way to love,” explained Baker-Oliver.

Co-founder, Steven A. Butler Jr., wrote the play about the struggles his family faced while performing in a circus in Charles County, before settling in La Plata, Maryland in the early 1900’s.

“Back in the 1920’s there were not that many options for African Americans.  It was scrubbing tables, chauffeuring someone’s car, or singing and dancing.   At least with singing and dancing, you got the opportunity to put a smile on someone’s face,” the playwright detailed, in and interview with DCW50.

“That is a feeling that a lot of people do not get in life, especially as an African American in the 1920’s, where you were dismissed, ignored, and irrelevant.  But as a performer, even back then, you were entertaining people and that gave you a sense of pride, a sense of respect for that moment,” Butler continued.

“For us to be here, represents something.  Something has been fought for, for us to be here,” added Baker-Oliver.

The founders of Restoration Stage Inc., said their mission is to merge history and the arts to restore the black family one story at a time.

“The Very Last Days of the First Colored Circus” runs through March 5.