All you consummate readers who insist that theater is "just not your thing," listen up: earlier today, the Apollo Theater announced that Ta-Nehisi Coates' Between The World and Me is coming to the stage in a multimedia production featuring projections, excerpted monologues, and an original score by jazz musician and composer Jason Moran (his recent credits include Ava DuVernay's films Selma and 13th).
Kamilah Forbes, the newly appointed executive producer for the Apollo Theater, will be spearheading the show, and though her resume alone makes her a top choice (she served as associate director for "A Raisin In The Sun" on Broadway), she has a more intimate connection to the work: she's actually in the book, as "Aunt Kamilah." Forbes attended Howard University with Coates and Prince Jones, whose unjustified death at the hands of Prince George County police in 2000 ripped through Coates' understanding of the world.
Between The World and Me, Coates' second full-length book, which won the National Book Award and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, is structured as a letter to his 14-year-old son, Samori. A sort of companion to The Beautiful Struggle, Between The World and Me offers a pared down illustration of Coates' childhood in Baltimore, and explores the life and death of Prince Jones, as both a personal tragedy, as well as an embodiment of systematic violence against the Black community.
The book explores how a Black man can raise a Black son in today's United States, where cultural shifts - Coates notes that he did not grow up knowing “what it means to grow up with a black president, social networks, omnipresent media, and black women everywhere in their natural hair” - are still colored by the omnipresent violence of racism.
The show is set to open next April, though run dates have yet to be specified, and hopes to translate what is, at its core, a solitary action (reading a book) into a collective experience.
“There’s a mix of everyday folks and celebrity voices,” said Forbes to The New York Times. “One night is going to be vastly different from the next.” Coates himself will also be involved, offering "creative guidance" and potentially even appearing onstage.