African American Museum and Library at Oakland to host the West Coast Premiere of Ishmael Reed’s latest play, The Shine Challenge, 2024

Virtual performance screening followed by discussion session with playwright, director, and actor

April 19, 2024

Media Contact: Veda Silva

The African American Museum and Library at Oakland is hosting a virtual performance screening of Ishmael Reed’s latest play, "The Shine Challenge, 2024”, Saturday, April 27 at 2:30 pm to 4:30 pm. Following the performance, playwright Ishmael Reed, director Carla Blank, and actor Emil Guillermo will host a discussion session.

Reed’s play is based on “Sinking of the Titanic,” a rhymed, humorous, and racy toast told in vernacular language about a fictionalized deckhand, a Black folk hero, who survived the doomed ship. Poet Langston Hughes heard the toast on Harlem’s 8th Avenue in New York City and recorded one of its numerous versions. Reed has lengthened the 36 lines published by Hughes into a 100-page script to expand issues addressed in the original toast: race, class, immigration, engineering, and Edwardian morality. He puts Shine, the folk hero on trial. Accused of putting the luxury ocean liner in peril, Shine acts as his own defense attorney.

Reed titled the play "The Shine Challenge, 2024" because he expects that a future playwright will expand upon what he has accomplished.

Please note that this the play contains satirical humor, adult themes and language, and is recommended for an audience of 21 years of age and older.

AAMLO is located at 659 14th Street in Oakland California.

To RSVP for the virtual screening please call (510) 637-0200.

Ishmael Reed, author of more than thirty books, has received prize winning accolades in the categories of poetry, nonfiction, novels, and plays. The multitalented Reed is also a publisher, an editor of numerous anthologies and magazines, as well as a television producer, radio and television commentator, cartoonist, composer, and pianist. He is the recipient of numerous honors including John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Fellowship award; the Anisfield-Wolf Lifetime Achievement Award in 2022, and the University of California at Berkeley Distinguished Emeritus Awardee for the year 2020. His author’s website is

Carla Blank, writer, editor, director, and dramaturg—has directed The Conductor (2022) and The Slave Who Loved Caviar (2021-22), two plays by Ishmael Reed, at Theater for the New City in New York. Her non-fiction books include Storming the Old Boys’ Citadel (2014) with Tania Martin, and Rediscovering America (2003). With Ishmael Reed she coedited the anthologies Bigotry on Broadway (2021) and Powwow: Charting the Fault Lines in the American Experience, Short Fiction, From Then to Now (2009). A collection of her essays will appear in A Jew in Ramallah and Other Stories (forthcoming in Fall 2024).

Emil Guillermo, a media commentator and journalist, may be viewed on his daily show, “Emil Amok’s Takeout” at He also hosts “The Peta Podcast.” His book, Amok: Essays from an Asian American Perspective, won the American Book Award in 2022. As an actor and stand-up solo artist, Guillermo performs throughout the country. He appears as the J. Bruce Ismay in the Shine Challenge, 2024. Guillermo has appeared in two other plays: The Conductor and Hubba City by Ishmael Reed.

About the African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO)
The African American Museum and Library at Oakland (AAMLO) has a mission to discover, preserve, interpret, and share the historical and cultural experiences of African Americans in Northern California for present and future generations. The Museum highlights four component areas: a long-term exhibition, Visions Toward Tomorrow: The African American Community in Oakland, 1890-1990; a non-circulating Reference Library; an archival collection focusing on the history of African Americans in Northern California, especially the Bay Area; and a Seed Library featuring fruits and vegetables, and as well flowering plants. AAMLO publishes an online weekly newsletter for its subscribers and a monthly calendar of exhibitions, educational offerings, and public programs.

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