Rooted Theater Festival; Art; East New York; COVID-10; Virtual
The Rooted Theater Company is a Brooklyn based organization with deep ties to its community. Photo Credit: The Rooted Theater Company

As COVID-19 restrictions loosen in New York, city-based artists continue to reimagine how to safely curate a space for public interaction with their art.

The Rooted Theater Company, a theater company growing in East New York, has recently moved its production online, making black theatre not only accessible but far-reaching.

Founded in 2013 by Kareem Nemley and his husband, Wilfredo Florentino, the company strives to produce socially relevant theater firmly rooted in community experiences.This summer, The Rooted Theater Company is proud to present the inaugural “Relevantly Rooted Festival.”

“As a theater company, we were at a crossroads. We obviously could not continue with our season in the same fashion we did in years past,” said Wilfredo Florentino. “The only thing we could do was have a virtual theater, to focus on that and what that looks like… It is going to be even more accessible than Rooted Theater productions have ever been.”

Based in East New York, Rooted exists to combat the inaccessibility of stage performance within black and brown communities in the area.

“Through COVID and Black Lives Matter, I felt really stifled in how to get my voice out there,” said Kareen Nemley. “I have two kids at the moment. So I did not feel safe going out and protesting. And so through this thought process of, “What can I do? How can I be active? How can I motivate? And how can I share my perspective?” Relevantly Rooted came about.”

The festival features works by founder Kareem Nemley and other activists, poets and writers who are not afraid to voice their opinions on the current state of affairs. Festival topics vary, from armchair activism to navigating queer relationships.

“We are not just talking about random shows that we got the rights to,” said Forentino. “These are shows that are birthed from the struggles we are going through, and that is what we have been trying to do for the entirety of our existence.”

The festival premieres on Instagram and Facebook later this month, you can find a link to more information here.

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Kimberlean Donis

Kimberlean Donis is a journalist based in Brooklyn. She is a student at Williams College majoring in Political Science and Art History.

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