Black Poetry Theatre (BPT) was the brainstorm of poet, spoken word artist, host, and playwright Joseph “Church da Poet” Churchwell. In the summer of 2007, Joseph was commissioned by Alternative Perspective Theatre (APET) and its founder Leigh Holmes to craft a poetic theatrical production for the MUSE Festival at Manbites Dog Theater. In conjunction with selected poets from the community he created the production Black Poetry. Black Poetry debuted at Manbites Dog Theater (Durham, NC) in August of 2007. The production was a success and an opportunity was soon discovered. Soon after Black Poetry’s debut there were requests for more showings of the play and questions about new productions. Inspired by the response, Joseph envisioned creating a theater group that would focus on creating productions using poetry and spoken word. With the help of poet, spoken word artist, recording artist and playwright Dasan Ahanu, an original cast member of Black Poetry, Joseph co-founded Black Poetry Theatre as a vehicle to bring original poetic productions to the theater.
In addition to its premier production Black Poetry, BPT has also created and presented H.E.R.S.tory of Love: a Stronger Daye in 2007. The production was presented in collaboration with Monica Daye as an outreach and awareness initiative on issues of domestic violence and sexual assault. in 2008 BPT debuted Definition of a Hero. This was a production presented that examined our ideas of heroes and how they show up in our lives. BPT was commissioned to produce and co-direct The Spectrum in April of 2009 at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Written by Kane Smego, the play was a part of an outreach initiative by the Criminal Justice Action and Awareness Committee. In 2010 BPT introduced three new productions, Epic of Eve, Confessions of a Lounge Singer and HERStory through HIS Eyes. In 2012 BPT presented H.I.S. Thoughts, a tribute to the writing of poet, Keenan Gorham. Centered on explorations of love, the production highlighted Keenan’s poetry interwoven with a soulful soundtrack. Also in 2012 BPT produced Verbal Portraits of She, a celebration of womanhood, by Nicki Knardirell. In 2018 BPT introduced two new productions as part of their new residency with the Hayti Heritage Center, an African American cultural center in Durham, NC run by the St. Joseph’s Historic Foundation. Inside Studio Real was a experimental production envisioned and written by Dasan Ahanu. Presented as a choreopoetic sitcom, the production used poetry and humor to bring the story to life. Then as part of a special collaboration with the Artscenter in Carrboro, NC, BPT produced Tend to Your Own House written by Dasan Ahanu, Lee Chapman, Keisha Lambert, and Nakita Jay. This production reimagined classic theatre pieces and placed them in modern context. Sticking to its mission and dedicated to providing opportunities for artists in the community, BPT continues to bring original productions to the stage as a resident theatre company at the historic Hayti Heritage Center,