The Alliance Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia, will present a fully staged production of Hands Up in the fall during its 2020–2021 season, in an effort to provide a platform for Black artists and tell contemporary stories. The work depicts the realities of Black America from the perspective of varying genders, sexual orientations, skin tones, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
Alexis Woodard and Keith Arthur Bolden serve as co-directors, with sound design by Lorenzo Moore and choreography by Keri Garrett. Exact production dates and casting will be announced at a later date.
Initially conceived as a series of seven monologues at The New Black Fest in 2015 after the police slaying of Michael Brown, Hands Up was re-imagined as ensemble piece by Spelman College students and presented in 2019. The new version was then submitted to the Alliance's Reiser Atlanta Artists Lab, where it was selected for development, but in light of the national movement for justice, theatre organizers have decided to make it a part of the upcoming season.
The collection includes "Superiority Fantasy" by Nathan James, "Holes in My Identity" by Nathan Yungerberg, "They Shootin! Or I Ain’t Neva Scared…" by Idris Goodwin, "Dead of Night… The Execution of…" by Nambi E. Kelley, "Abortion" by Nsangou Njikam, "Walking Next to Michael Brown" by Eric Micha Holmes, and "How I Feel" by Dennis A. Allen II.
"I have yet to see a show that engages with the Black American experience in a way that is as raw and demanding of the artists and audience as Hands Up," said Woodard. "This is a piece that everybody needs to experience. I want to believe when we are confronted with the pain of another human’s experience, it is our natural reaction to respond with empathy and love."
In addition to producing this piece, Alliance has voiced its commitment to creating more opportunities to amplify the voices of Black artists and lift contemporary stories of the Black experience, with more initiatives to be announced.