Get to know James Anthony Tyler – “Some Old Black Man”


BLACKBOARD: Tell us a little but about yourself and why you write….
JAMES: I was born in California, but grew up in Las Vegas, NV. I’ve lived a few places Wilberforce, Ohio where I went to school at Central State University and Washington, D.C. – I studied film at Howard University in a MFA Program, and I lived in LA before moving here to New York.I just started writing plays in the fall of 2010 when I started the Graduate Dramatic Writing Program at NYU. Before that my entire concentration as an artist was on filmmaking (writing and directing) but I really fell in love with playwriting and the intimacy of theater.

BLACKBOARD: Why did you write this play?

JAMES: I was thinking about the commonality and differences of my grandparent’s and my parent’s generations. What each generation experienced and endured as Black people in America. I wanted to do a play that explored this and that is my original reason for writing the play, and then during the process of writing, the play just took on a life of its own.

BLACKBOARD: How did you find Blackboard?

JAMES: I found out about Blackboard from a friend and fellow NYU alumnus Franz Reynolds.

BLACKBOARD: What is important to you about a community of black writers?

JAMES: We’re halfway through 2012, and I have lost count of how many times I have been disgusted this year by the stereotypes and cultural misperceptions of African Americans in film, television and theater. In most of these productions that I’ve seen the actors are African American but the writers are not.

I think what is important about a community of black writers is an opportunity to explore our humanity, and in most cases I have found that when we are doing this exploring we are challenging these one dimensional ways that we continue to be depicted in most mainstream film, television and theater.

BLACKBOARD: How do you want people to feel after they have heard this play?

JAMES: Of course, I want people to feel as if they have had a satisfying theater experience, but I don’t really think about an exact way that a person should feel after they have heard the play. During the play, I want people to laugh at certain times and I try to have at least one moment (hopefully more than one) that will make the audience cry. In my opinion, when the audience laughs or cries that means they are most likely engaged with the play.

I always hope that the play has themes that people are able to converse about with each other once the play is over.


Some Old Black Man by James Anthony Tyler – Monday, August 13, 2012

Cast Bios Here



About blackboardplays

Familiar with the collectives for poets and other Black writers that had been created over the years and slightly envious of that sense of community, I became curious about a similar place for playwrights. I wanted to see Black playwrights, actors and directors excited over each others work and supporting each other. I was longing for a “home” as a Black playwright and wanted to see other Black artists in that home, not to be exclusive, but because there was a void. I was also eager to find other Black playwrights who shared a passion for the craft of storytelling. The stories of the Black community are diverse and are often hidden behind the blockbuster stereotyped versions. The non-artistic Black community, not involved in the writing of these stories, is yearning to see themselves in our stories and it is apart of my life’s work to ensure that happens. the cell is any artists’ dream: a new space that supports you as you grow, committed to new work and the art. This allows the writer to focus on the craft - to focus on their story. Nancy Manocherian and Kira Simring welcomed this idea with open arms and instantly became apart of what we later called “Blackboard Reading Series”. Every reading will conclude a twenty minute talk-back with the audience. Dialogue with the community is essential to what we want to do with the series. As we grow, there may be more readings a month, play festivals and of course productions. We want to nurture and develop new black playwrights for this generation! Thank You! Garlia Cornelia Jones Founder, Blackboard Reading Series
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