Wednesday, February 8, 2017

BLACKOUT: Experiencing Race Through Immersive Theatre

no peeking

JCTC (Jersey City Theater Center) presents the premier of BLACKOUT, a No Peeking Theatre production that takes a multifaceted look at the African-American experience through a unique, and immersive theatre experience.

BLACKOUT, which runs Feb. 17-19, at Merseles Studios, is part of JCTC’s Borderless series, which concludes March 24th.

BLACKOUT – the first collaboration between JCTC and No Peeking Theatre – and runs Fri, Feb

17 • 8:00pm/Sat, Feb 18 • 8:00pm/ Sun, Feb 19 • 3:00pm & 7:00pm at Merseles Studios, 339 Newark Avenue, Jersey City.

“We at JCTC believe it’s important to give opportunities to local theatre companies,” said Olga Levina, Artistic Director, JCTC. “Borderless is about building bridges between cultures and individuals and the No Peeking experience is inclusive on many different levels. BLACKOUT is a perfect addition to this series. By closing off your sense of sight, the involvement of the audience is deepened. You share the experience and become more than an observer, you’re a participant.”

“No Peeking Theatre presents another type of theater, one that is very original and experimental.

No Peeking, founded in 2012, presents experimental theater that is sensory and experiential. Audience members are given blindfolds to wear and as they listen to the actors, stage hands accentuate the text by creating ambient sounds and music, different scents and aromas and even provide objects and surfaces to touch. The resulting experience is utterly unique, it is theater of the mind and body.

This approach suits the ambitious and topical objectives of BLACKOUT. A year ago, inspired by the Black Lives Movement and the racially tinged rhetoric that often emerged during the 2016 presidential election, Amanda Levie, Executive Director of No Peeking Theatre, decided to develop a new production that could be launched during black history month. Through social media and other networks, Levie issued a writer’s call for BLACKOUT, asking for writing of any genre whose subject matter dealt with the experience of being black in America.

She described the response to the callout as nearly overwhelming. She then transformed the accepted submissions to a streamlined 90 minutes of immersive theatre. BLACKOUT spans a range of genres: monologues, poetry, spoken-word, personal narratives and mini-plays. Once the writings were selected, casting calls went out and the rehearsal process began, which included developing the other sensory components of BLACKOUT.

The subject matter concerns a cross-section of what can generally be called the African Diaspora, ranging from the Black American experience, to stories about recent African immigrants and about the Afro-Caribbean immigrants, such as Dominicans. BLACKOUT challenges audiences to rethink their preconceptions of race, inclusion and prejudice, both social and personal.

BLACKOUTt represents the complex diversity of the black experience,” Levie said. “By taking away the sense of sight, audience members better appreciate how appearance affects perceptions about race. When people see lighter skin versus darker skin, or if somebody is dressed better than someone else, they begin to make judgements about that person, how educated they are or what their economic class may be. In BLACKOUT, people are unable to make those immediate assumptions, which distills the content so we have the honest experience of actual human being.”

BLACKOUT was written by: Chima Chikazunga, Andrea Clinton, Ashley Bivins Eural, Justin Green, Siiyara Nelson, Tokunboh Talabi, Courtney Wheeler and wendelin.

BLACKOUT Cast: Nerissa Tutiven; Mariah Ralph; Nadege Matteis; Mike Anthony; Bernard L. White; Deidre Benton; Jayna Strong; Alex Poage.


No Peeking Theatre/BLACKOUT Crew

Soundscape: Joe Velez
Scentscape: Gahlia Eden
Touch Tech: Nerissa Tutiven
Aura Engineer: Justin Green

BLACKOUT shows: Fri, Feb 17 • 8:00pm/Sat, Feb 18 • 8:00pm/ Sun, Feb 19 • 3:00pm & 7:00pm

$20 General; $10 Students & Sr. Citizen Discounts (ID Required at door)

For more information or to purchase tickets visit:>

Jersey City Theater Center
Merseles Studios
339 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 795-5386

Race in America is explored through immersive theater when JCTC presents BLACKOUT No Peeking Theatre, February 17.18,19.

No Peeking Theatre encourages blind, low vision and other special needs individuals to attend their productions. Merseles Studios features an accessible bathroom facility. For all additional accessibility requests regarding JCTC programming, please contact: (201) 795-5386, Assisted Listening Devices are available, please contact JCTC two weeks prior to the event.

Funding for Borderless & BLACKOUT was made possible by generous support from the Hudson County Office of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development, Thomas A. DeGise, Hudson County Executive and the Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.

Borderless & Borderless was also made possible through the generosity of Ben LoPiccolo Development Group, JCTC’s Board of Directors, private donors and local Jersey City businesses.

Jersey City Theater Center, Inc. (JCTC) manages programming at Merseles Studios and the adjacent White Eagle Hall, currently under construction. JCTC is a nonprofit, 501c3 arts organization committed to presenting innovative and progressive performing & visual arts as well as educational arts programs that embrace the multicultural identity and preserve the rich history of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and enhancing its quality of life. >

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