Richard Wesley was witness to a revolution. As both a celebrated participant and eager student of the Black Theater Movement in the late 1960s, he became part of a seismic force in American culture, breaking down barriers and helping to disrupt the cultural landscape. It's Always Loud in the Balcony: A Life in Black Theater, from Harlem to Hollywood and Back is both history and memoir, tracing Wesley's roots from riot-torn Newark, New Jersey, across the rocky terrain of Harlem, and finally to Hollywood, where he became partners with Sidney Poitier, writing several successful films before returning to New York and the theater world-a trip that Wesley has wryly characterized as "black power to black establishment." Wesley unfolds the history of black theater with love and precision, from the emergence of Amiri Baraka, and his own debut, the fiercely militant Black Terror-which landed him a deal with the legendary producer Joseph Papp-through his moviemaking experience in Los Angeles, working with Bill Cosby and Richard Pryor, among others. Wesley lands on solid ground in the twenty-first century as an elder statesman, a happy witness to the great success of a new breed of black theater that includes the widespread success of Tyler Perry and Lin-Manuel Miranda's Hamilton, which brought hip-hop to Broadway. It's Always Loud in the Balcony is the passionate, firsthand account of a crucial American art movement whose effects will be felt for generations to come.
Richard Wesley was born in Newark, New Jersey. His work has been produced on stage, screen, and television. He has received the Drama Desk Award, the NAACP Image Award, the AUDELCO Award, and the Castillo Award for his work in political theater. Associate Professor at the Tisch School of the Arts at New York University, he is married to the novelist Valerie Wilson Wesley.