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Talking Back

Season 2

A three-part web series that reveals the growing movement for justice in the theatre field.


About Talking Back Season 2

Hosted by artEquity founder and executive director, Carmen Morgan, the first series filmed in 2019 brought artEquity's practice of facilitating hard and necessary conversations to a broader audience. The curtain was pulled back, and viewers gained insight into the activism and progress achieved by theatre practitioners across the field. This next three-part web series, Talking Back Season 2, will be no different.


The summer of 2020 caused unrest and deep sadness, not only with the pandemic but with the brutal murders of Black people. There seemed to be no hope. But during conversations with Black creatives, playwrights, and the community, we were reminded of the ways in which Black folks, in particular, have a way of converting trauma into other things. This was the inspiration for a series focused on the Black experience. Three years after the public lynching of George Floyd, where are we now? How have the global events of 2020 informed Black creative work? What have the institutional responses been to anti-Blackness? What does Black liberation look like, now and in the future? 

Through engagement with Black creatives including playwrights, founding artistic directors, newly appointed leaders, and activists who have operated at all levels of leadership in arts organizations across the United States, we learn what it takes to transform, not just anti-Black institutions, but an anti-Black field. 

This series was created and produced by Sharifa Johka. Funding for the project was provided by the Mellon Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

For more information, please see our press release.

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Episode 1
In Conversation with Black Playwrights

Black playwrights discuss how the summer of 2020 affected their creative work and how they have navigated the challenges of returning to theatre. These writers speak about their unique position in the field cultivating spaces for Black voices and the forms their activism has taken. They also share what it takes to sustain themselves and their communities, and their hopes to shift and expand the paradigm of what it means to be successful. 

With (left to right): Dominique Morisseau,

Josh Wilder, Carmen Morgan, Aleshea Harris, A. Zell Williams

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Episode 2
Institutional Anti-Blackness

Black leaders and founding artistic directors discuss the REAL institutional response to anti-Blackness from the perspective of those who work from inside and outside of predominantly white institutions. Through a candid discussion, this episode reveals how institutions continue to undermine Black leadership and where Black leaders turn for support and community. While holding nothing back, these leaders share what it means to challenge these institutions, where they draw the line, and what it means to divest and walk away.


With (left to right): Kelvin Dinkins, Jr., Lauren Turner Hines, Carmen Morgan, Mica Cole, Ken-Matt Martin 

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Episode 3
Black Joy, Black Futures,
Black Liberation

Black creatives discuss the post-2020 world they are dreaming into and creating. They discuss what Black Joy actually is and how Black Joy can coexist in a world entrenched in violent anti-Blackness. The conversation reveals the deep ancestral roots and history at the core of their work. Through the sharing of their own practices, they unpack the nuances of Black expression, and the peace and groundedness that comes with being unapologetically Black. 

With (left to right): Cloteal Horne, Nissy Aya, Carmen Morgan, Nicole Brewer, Ken-Matt Martin


an artEquity Production

In Association With
Black Realities


Executive Producer


Created and Produced by
Sharifa Johka

Recorded and Edited by
DVR Productions

Consulting Producer
Carmen Morgan

Carmen Morgan


Nissy Aya - Ep. 3

Nicole Brewer - Ep. 3

Mica Cole - Ep. 2

Kelvin Dinkins, Jr. - Ep. 2

Aleshea Harris - Ep. 1

Cloteal L. Horne - Ep. 3

Ken-Matt Martin - Ep. 2 + 3

Dominique Morisseau - Ep. 1

Lauren Turner Hines - Ep. 2

Josh Wilder - Ep. 1

A. Zell Williams - Ep. 1


Sean Daniels
Pauline Dyer
Melvin Graham

Original Music


James Gardin (feat. Sareem Poems)

Sound Editing & Mixing

Matt Brandseth

Funding Provided By

Mellon Foundation

National Endowment for the Arts

Camera Operators

Kesha Daniels
Sean Daniels
Sihonn Dixon
Pauline Dyer
Melvin Graham
Vincent Madero


Production Manager

Mara Hsia-Palma

Production Coordinator
Michael Robertson

Production Assistants

Telana Courseau

Sami Hansen


Department Head Makeup
Mecca Dickerson

Hair for Carmen Morgan
Rayna Brooks Lott
Sekai Natural Hair Gallery

artEquity Staff
Jose "Jojo" Abaoag

Alexis Green

Kendra Hale
Carmen Morgan

Mara Hsieh Palma
Michael Robertson
Margaret Toomey


Olivia George
Vivian Holtzman (Phosphene)
Henry Willette (Phosphene)

Closed Captioning

Special Thanks

Shaina Simmons

Carolyn Reneé Morris


Copyright © 2023 artEquity. All rights reserved.

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