Richard B. Harrison Players Showcase the Importance of Black Theatre

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Courtesy of Social Media Chair, Sanai Hyman

RBH Players at the Fall 2022 N.C. A&T student organization fair on September 1, 2022.

Dasia Williams, Contributor

The Richard B. Harrison Players, the oldest and richest organization on N.C. A&T campus, began its journey when it was founded by Richard B. Harrison, an honorable gem in theatre who set the tone for Black excellence in the performing arts. 

The early 1930s at N.C. A&T was graced by the teachings of Harrison, as he taught drama and directed plays on the campus for seven years. Cherishable decades have passed, and the national award-winning RBH Players are committed to increasing the visibility and importance of theatre on campus and in the community. 

Senior professional theatre student and president of the RBH Players, Emani Eaglin says that when it comes to tackling serious topics within the Black community, conflict is easy to avoid. She believes that acting evokes those hard-to-talk-about conversations through expression. 

“My desire to take on this leadership role started my sophomore year. A lot had changed in the program due to COVID-19, and it knocked the spirits of the actresses and actors. All I could think about was ways I could help bring back that passion.”

 

RBH Players President Emani Eaglin (left), and Seth Schenall (right) performing in act 1 of “Dearly Departed” (Courtesy of NCAT Theatre)

“I believe that if you want to change, you have to be it,” Eaglin said. “Since being in this position, I have enjoyed seeing the Eboard grow into the people they’ve become. Like my VP, who has taken on her own projects.”

 

Junior professional theatre student and vice president of the RBH Players, Jada Wesley believes that being a member of the RBH Players allows people to express themselves mentally, much more on stage than they do off stage.  

“The heart of this club is that we all have the same passions, and it is important that no one feels small,” Wesley said. “After graduation, I would like to move to the outskirts of L.A., and open up my own mental health facility, catered to the performing arts.”

Senior professional theatre student, and social media chair of the RBH Players, Sanai Hyman wholeheartedly believes that the organization has been an unrepresented group on campus. Hyman wants to be a part of the solution to bring more awareness to the club.

“The N.C. A&T Theatre Program has been an underdog to Howard University. This is because they are known to have taught notable people in the industry.”

“A&T was my first choice because of the accurate picture the program painted for Blacks,” Hyman said. “Blacks on broadway came from this program, so it lets us know that we are in control of the narrative.”

 “I saw that the social media page was lacking information about what the club offers, so I wanted to make sure people knew that there is room for all creative expressions.”

Jordan Hankerson, Jada Wesley, Victoria Pittman-Morris, and Corin Davis performing in Mike Wiley’s “REBELLIOUS” play at Triad Stage. (Photo by VanderVeen Photographers)

“There are opportunities for different disciplines in theatre such as singing, dancing, and acting,” Hyman said. 

The most significant impact the organization has on the students is the importance of supporting each other when they have graduated and pursued their wildest dreams. 

Recent N.C. A&T professional theatre alumna, Jordan Hankerson believes that being a Black artist is tough without support.

The chant we used to say in RBH was “RBH, We All We Got,” Hankerson said. “Not many people go into the performing arts field and are successful. Then you can add the fact that we are also Black artists, which brings the numbers down significantly.”

“You realize how much you have to support each other no matter where life may take us beyond N. C. A&T’s campus,” Hankerson said.

If you are an artist and are looking to expand your community, the RBH Players hosts general body meetings every third Thursday of the month. For upcoming events and shows follow the RBH Players @ncat_rbh  and  N.C. A&T Theatre Department @ncattheatre on Instagram.