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Carpetbag Theatre under new leadership after 45 years

Just after celebrating 50 years in existence, Black legacy performance theatre organization, The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc.’s Executive Director of 45 years, Linda Parris-Bailey, announced that she would be retiring and passing the torch to new leadership in January 2020.

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Far right: Jonathan Clark; image submitted

After a restful holiday break, the staff of Carpetbag returned to the leadership of 34 year old Knoxville native, Jonathan “Courageous” Clark. Clark was introduced to Carpetbag through its Youth Program at the age of 13. Under the mentorship of Parris-Bailey, Jonathan’s love for the arts was nourished and, over the past three years, he was groomed to be her successor.

During Carpetbag’s 50th anniversary celebration, Clark stood proudly next to his womantor and vowed to carry on the tradition of shedding light on our communities’ stories and giving voice to the oppressed through performance theatre. “This is my dedication to you as the future Executive Director and Artistic Director of The Carpetbag Theatre, taking over these huge shoes that Linda Parris-Bailey has stood in for 45 years,” Clark announced beaming with humility and adoration.

During his first year as Executive and Artistic Director of Carpetbag, Clark will be unveiling his first production entitled Bricks, the story of one of East Tennessee’s first Black businessmen - a brickmaker. The timing couldn’t be better after the incredible success of The Carpetbag Theatre’s 50th Anniversary Celebration Series, consisting of six original works written by Linda Parris-Bailey and members of the theatre’s ensemble, including noted works such as Dark Cowgirls & Prairie Queens, SWOPERA: A Spoken Word Opera, and most recently Red Summer.

The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. was founded in 1969 and chartered in 1971. It is a Knoxville-based professional, multi-generational ensemble company dedicated to the production of new works. They work in partnership with community artists, activists, cultural workers, storytellers, and leaders to create original, theatrical works. Its mission is to give artistic voice to the issues and dreams of people who have been silenced by racism, classism, sexism, ageism, homophobia, and other forms of oppression.

Published March 24, 2020

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