BPT 2015

BPT 2015 peopleHow Can We Work it Out?: Black Performance between Death and Life

BPT met for its 15th anniversary gathering Friday, May 1 through Sunday, May 3, 2015, at New York University and St. John’s University (Manhattan Campus).Black Performance Theory.

Shanté Paradigm Smalls, Ph.D., produced the event. 

Woman hold her head and cry,
Because her son has been shot down in the street and die.

—Bob Marley and the Wailers, Johnny Was

How Can We Work it Out? — The fifteenth-anniversary edition of the Black Performance Theory convergence brings together scholars, artists, and activists from across the country to dialogue and to debate the place of black performance studies post-Ferguson. Amid burgeoning movements for transformative justice in a white settler colonial state — from the Dream Defenders to #BlackLivesMatter, from #ICantBreathe to the Black Youth Project — Black Performance Theory met to assess the ongoing place of the arts, in particular, of performance, in our mourning and militancy. Celebrating the leadership roles black women and queer people have taken in the street, on social media, in the classroom and beyond, How Can We Work It Out? asks us all to become implicated in the performative co-creation of spheres of black worldmaking that bring feminist, trans, and queer epistemologies from margin to center. Moving beyond the double bind of optimistic and pessimistic attachments to life or death, this gathering seeks to foster a new critical conversation amongst “we people who are darker than blue,” and seeks to embrace a shared vision of blackness as an immanent and immediate insurrection against pernicious racial, gender, national, and sexual hierarchies.


  • Rizvana Bradley
  • Jayna J Brown
  • La Marr Jurelle Bruce
  • N. Fadeke Castor
  • Sarah Jane Cervenak
  • Raj Chetty
  • Dr. Brittney Cooper
  • Soyica Colbert
  • Yolanda Covington-ward
  • Ashon Crawley
  • Thomas F Defrantz
  • Julius Fleming, Jr.
  • James Ford Iii
  • Racquel Gates
  • Nadine George-graves
  • Zakiyyah Iman Jackson
  • Jessica Marie Johnson
  • Jason King
  • Uri Mcmillan
  • Koritha Mitchell
  • Raquel L. Monroe
  • Tavia Nyong’o
  • Shante Paradigm Smalls
  • C. Riley Snorton
  • Hershini Bhana Young
  • Matt Richardson