‘In the Valley of Coming Forth’ takes over BK Thanksgiving Weekend

Dr. H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams at the CCCADI’s Afribembé Festival in August 2023.
Photo by Aryana Alexa

The premier performance of “In the Valley of Coming Forth,” an Afrofuturist play by Dr. H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, takes over the Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn on Nov. 24-25.

This alternative Thanksgiving weekend event presented by the Brooklyn-based Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute (CCCADI) tackles themes of European settler-colonialism, imperialism and white supremacy through the story of a Black woman’s struggles, post-apocalypse, to save her non-binary child in the year 2169.

The two-day event includes an artist talkback and live DJ sets. Guests are invited to attend in Afrofuturist attire.

CCCADI said on Monday that it was “proud” to announce the institution’s historic new initiative, a multi-year relationship with decolonial theatre artist, H. “Herukhuti” Sharif Williams, Ph, D, popularly known as Dr. Herukhuti.

The Brooklyn-native is a cultural worker committed to making revolution irresistible through theatre/performance art, filmmaking, poetics, and cultural criticism.

The producer-playwright-director has presented work in and around NYC including the New York International Fringe Theatre Festival, Bronx Academy of Arts and Dance Blaktinx Festival and Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute Afribembé Festival.

CCCADI is a co-producing partner of Dr. Herukhuti’s new play, “In the Valley of Coming Forth,” an Afrofuturist, funk, ritual play about a Black woman’s struggle to rescue her kidnapped non-binary child and destroy the system that has torn them apart.

With an individual artist grant, marketing and other production support, CCCADI said it is modeling a “new paradigm for cultural organizations that cultivates an environment for re-indigenizing and decolonizing relationships between artists/cultural workers and art and culture institutions.”

“Supporting artists and cultural workers of African descent dedicated to using their medium to advance racial and social justice is critical to our mission and part of our organizational strategy,” said Melody Capote, CCCADI Executive Director.

“Dr. Herukhuti, as an artist, and an alumnus of CCCADI embodies that dedication through his work,” she added. “Therefore, an investment in his artistic practice is our commitment to the advancement of our community-at-large.”

He participated in CCCADI’s Digital Evolution Artist Retention (DEAR) program in 2021, the organization’s professional development lab.

Primarily for artists and cultural workers of African descent, DEAR offers the opportunity to connect, reflect, cultivate innovation, and strategize in a community of peers committed to growth and adaptation.

After participating in DEAR and with the support of a $10,000 individual artist grant from the New York State Council on the Arts and using African cultural heritage in the oral tradition as a grant-making practice rather than the standardized written application, Dr. Herukhuti and CCCADI focused on their relationship building for an entire year in an effort to ground their collaboration in the strength of their mutual knowledge of each other.

The conversations culminated in an excerpt performance of “In the Valley of Coming Forth” at CCCADI’s annual Afribembé Festival held in August, in alignment with the festival theme: Black to the Future.

The collaborators will bring a premier performance of the full play to Weeksville Heritage Center (WHC), 158 Buffalo Ave., Brooklyn, NY 11213, at 7 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 24, with an Artist Talkback at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 25.

As a historic site and cultural center in Central Brooklyn that uses education, arts and a social justice lens to preserve, document and inspire engagement with the history of Weeksville and the Historic Hunterfly Road Houses, CCCADI said the venue has specific resonance with the themes of the play.

It said “presenting the play, which deals with the tradition of marronage and freedom in the face of European settler-colonialism, imperialism, and white supremacy initiated by the Pilgrims—whose actions are celebrated on Thanksgiving weekend, at the site of one of the largest free Black communities in pre-Civil War America, is critically important to Dr. Herukhuti, who lives within walking distance of the site and whose father and uncles were raised across the street from Weeksville Heritage Center in the Kingboro Houses.”

The two-day event is presented with support from the New York State Council on the Arts, The Theatre Offensive, and Double Edge Theatre, Goddard College Faculty Development Fund, and the Applied Theatre Racial Justice Conference of the CUNY School of Professional Studies MA Program in Applied Theatre.

Visit www.cccadi.org/ivcf for more information.