Juneteenth events to amplify African American voices
Juneteenth observances are planned in the region throughout the weekend.
WINONA, MINNESOTA — Actors and leaders at the Great River Shakespeare Festival have had their eyes on putting on a production of “The African Company presents, Richard III.”
The play is written by Minnesota playwright Carlyle Brown. It highlights historically significant cultural events for African Americans. The show matches the festival’s commitment to include BIPOC voices, cast, staff and experiences in future productions.
Unfortunately, for years, the lack of inclusion in theater was one of the biggest obstacles to putting on the show, said Doug Scholz-Carlson, Great River Shakespeare Festival artistic director.
The show calls for a mostly Black cast.
“It took a while to get all the actors in place for the show,” Scholz-Carlson said.
The production brings longtime Great River Shakespeare Festival actor Corey Allen back to Winona, but this time as director of the production.
“The African Company presents, Richard III” is a 1994 drama written by Twin Cities playwright Carlyle Brown. It’s based on actual events in 1822 when the first black theater company in the U.S. — the African Grove Company, or the African Company, attempted to produce a performance of “Richard III” in New York City.
That production runs head-to-head against a production at the Park Theater, drawing the ire of Park producer Stephen Price.
Scholz-Carlson plays Price in the production.
“I’m the villain,” he said.
The role provides some uncomfortable moments, he said. Scholz-Carlson has been part of the Great River Shakespeare Festival’s move toward more inclusion.
“To be the energy in the room and be the racist energy in the room, is difficult at times,” he said.
Scholz-Carlson said he sees the role as embodying a voice.
“This is an important story to tell,” he said. “Somebody needs to be that voice.”
The show fittingly opens with a preview performance June 19, 2022. That day is the oldest African American holiday in the U.S. — Juneteenth.
Juneteenth is a celebration marking the emancipation of enslaved African Americans in the U.S. The name is derived from the words June and nineteenth.
Although it has been celebrated in some communities since 1866, widespread celebrations are still growing.
The preview performance of “The African Company presents, Richard III” is just one of the Juneteenth celebrations in Southeast Minnesota this weekend.
Although Juneteenth has been observed since 1866, widespread celebrations are still growing.
One of the longest running events in Southeast Minnesota is the Rochester Juneteenth Celebration, Inc., which was established by the Rochester Branch of the NAACP in 2005.
This year’s celebration will include food, live music featuring LaSonya Natividad and The Soul Train, cultural dance performances and youth activities.
Here are some of the nearby events marking Juneteenth in 2022.
If you go
What: Rochester Juneteenth Celebration
When: Noon to 5 p.m., Saturday, June 18, 2022.
Where: The Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Park, 1738 E. Center St.
What: Preview of “The African Company presents, Richard III” by The Great River Shakespeare Festival.
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Where: 121 E. Third St., Winona
What: Children’s Story Hour and supply drive, part of “Our Voices” Juneteenth celebration in Winona
When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2022.
Where: Sobieski Lodge, 965 East 7th St., Winona
What: Black Brilliance, Education and Action, part of “Our Voices” Juneteenth celebration in Winona
When: 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2022.
Where: Winona State University, Winona.
What: Lip Sync Battle, part of “Our Voices” Juneteenth celebration in Winona
When: 7 p.m., Saturday, June 18.
Where: No Name Bar, 252 E. Third St.
How much: $5, must be 21 or older to participate.
What: Juneteenth Day of Community, part of “Our Voices” Juneteenth celebration in Winona
When: 4 p.m., Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Where: Windom Park, 260 Harriet St., Winona.
What: Jazz jam and fundraiser
When: 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Where: Island City Brewing Company, 65 E. Front St., Winona.
What: Preview of “The African Company presents, Richard III” by the Great River Shakespeare Festival.
When: 7 p.m., Sunday, June 19, 2022.
Where: 121 E. Third St., Winona.