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"Black Angels over Tuskegee" rescheduled due to COVID concerns

Courtesy Photo from PASA
Posted at 10:40 AM, Jan 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-03 11:40:21-05

The Lafayette performance of Black Angels Over Tuskegee has been rescheduled over COVID concerns.

The acclaimed dramawritten and directed by Layon Gray, arrives in Lafayette for one performance at 7:30 p.m. on March 31, 2022 at the Heymann Performing Arts Center in Lafayette, LA, as part of Performing Arts Serving Acadiana’s (PASA’s) on-going schedule. The performance was originally scheduled in January and has been rescheduled due to COVID concerns.

Originally opened in Los Angeles in 2009, Black Angels Over Tuskegee transferred to New York , opening off Broadway. This award-winning, historical docudrama is the story of six men embarking upon a journey to become the first Black aviators in the United States Army Air Forces in an era of racial segregation and Jim Crow idealism.

Layon Gray, a native of Alexandria, LA, graduated from the University of Louisiana Lafayette in 1996 (then USL), is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity and was active in the local theater scene in proceeding years. He moved to Los Angeles and his professional career took off.

He developed Black Angels Over Tuskegee, using his own interviews with Tuskegee Airmen and other research.

“Some plays teach, others celebrate, and a few simply entertain. Black Angels Over Tuskegee manages to do all three and one thing more: It inspires,” says Backstage Magazine about this important drama.

Based on true events, this play uplifts and inspires audiences. The production movingly illustrates how the men unite in brotherhood to achieve a communal vision.

One of the longest-running Off-Broadway productions, Black Angels Over Tuskegee movingly illustrates how the men unite in brotherhood to achieve a communal vision.

Commonly referred to as the Tuskegee Airmen, these men came together to participate in the Army Air Corps program, which sought to train and prepare African-Americans to fly and maintain combat aircraft. The group included pilots, navigators, bombardiers, maintenance, instructors and support staff personnel who were charged with keeping the planes operable and in the air. The Tuskegee Airman conquered isolation and prejudice to become one of the most highly respected fighter groups of World War II, forming the 99th Pursuit Squadron. They proved conclusively that African-Americans could fly and maintain sophisticated combat aircraft. The achievements of the Tuskegee Airmen paved the way for full integration of the U.S. military.

The Black Angels Over Tuskegee performance and project activities are sponsored, in part, by Ochsner Lafayette General and Kinchen Funeral Homes.

“As a leader in providing quality of life in Acadiana, Ochsner Lafayette General believes that the public performance of Black Angels Over Tuskegee will allow the community to collectively gather and gain a unique perspective into the historical legacy of the Tuskegee Airman, which has and will continue to empower and educate all of us,” says Tonya Bolden-Ball, Regional Director of Diversity & Inclusion for Ochsner Lafayette General.

“This performance is an unusual opportunity to examine an era of American history, the important role that Black soldiers played in World War II, and to celebrate the talent that has blossomed from the University of Louisiana and from our local theater community,” says PASA executive director Jacqueline Lyle. “We hope that veterans, drama fans and people of all ages who are fans of live entertainment will join us on January 20 for this performance.”

In addition to the public, Theodore Foster, PhD, Associate Professor of Black Studies at the University of Louisiana Lafayette will give two public Tuskegee Airmen lectures: one at the Washington Recreation Center, 705 South Bridge Street, in Washington, LA, and the second on the University of Louisiana campus.

“We hope to connect, also, with any surviving Tuskegee Airmen in our region,” says Lyle. She can be reached by email at jackie@pasaonline.org or by calling (337) 781-1273.

This project is supported by a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, Office of Cultural Development, Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism, in cooperation with the Louisiana State Arts Council, as administered by the Acadiana Center for the Arts, and an Enterprise Fund grant from Lafayette Convention and Visitors Commission. Funding has also been provided by the National Endowment of the Arts.

COVID protections may be in place at the performance and all lectures. Proof of vaccine and/or masks worn properly may be required. Failure to comply may result in no entry and not refund.

Tickets for Black Angels Over Tuskegee are available at www.pasaonline.org [pasaonline.org]. A Family & Friends 4-Pack, priced at $100, is available in every seating area, from the first row to the last. Additional ticket fees and other charges will apply and will vary, based on the method of purchase. The most economical ticket fees are available through in-person purchase at the Heymann Center Box Office. Box office hours are 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. on Mondays. The box office is closed on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are also available by phone at the Heymann Performing Arts Center box office (337) 291-5555, other TicketMaster outlets, as well as ticketmaster.com [ticketmaster.com] or by phone at TicketMaster’s 24-hour line (337) 262-7597.

About Layon Gray: Layon Gray is uniquely tied to Lafayette. A member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. , he graduated from the University of Louisiana Lafayette in 1996 (then USL) and was active in the local theater scene in proceeding years. He moved to Los Angeles and his professional career took off.

He developed Black Angels Over Tuskegee, using his own interviews with Tuskegee Airmen and other research.

Gray brought Black Angels Over Tuskegee to New York in where it ran for 12 seasons before it closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The production has traveled the globe and is now back on the road.

Layon Gray is a theatrical artist whose work captivates audiences. He has spent more than two decades writing, directing and developing stage plays and films that reflect a wide array of African-American cultural movements, creating new paradigms for the stage and motion picture industry.

He founded Layon Gray Enterprises, a privately-held theater company, which has become one of the entertainment industry’s leading independent companies and a veritable theatre box office force. Gray quickly became one of Los Angeles’ premiere playwrights, earning more than 60 nomination and awards for his works. Among the honors are: the 2018 Carbonell Awards (Best Director, Best Ensemble, Best Production) 2016 Broadway League Fellowship honor, 2012 NYC Inspire Award, 2012, Al Sharpton Man of Vision Award, 2012 PCTF Award (Best Director) 2010 NY AUDELCO Award (Achievement Award for Excellence); 2009 NAACP Award (Best Ensemble Award); 2009 Hollywood ADA Award (Best Ensemble Award); 2008 MATCHLIFE Artist of the Year; 2007 NAACP Award (Best Producer, Best Play); 2007 MITF Award (Best Play, Best Writer, Best Director, Best Producer); 2006 NAACP Award (Best Play); 2005 Hollywood ADA Award (Best Play); 2004. Hollywood ADA Award (Best Play, Best Writer, Best Director); and 2003 Los Angeles MADDY Award (Best Play, Best Writer, Best Director, Best Ensemble).

About PASA: Performing Arts Serving Acadiana offers performing arts entertainment, focusing on dance, theater, and classical music, with occasional forays into other genres. PASA also delivers performing arts activities—master classes, workshops, lecture demonstrations and other offerings—in a variety of locations in the Acadiana area.