Between The World And Me, based on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ #1 New York Times bestseller turned live theatrical production, premiered on HBO and HBO Max in November 2020. Between the World and Me is a culture-defining television special that combines elements of the Apollo Theater’s 2018 production, including powerful readings from Ta-Neshi Coates’ book, documentary footage from the actors’ home life, archival footage, and animation. Apollo Theater’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes directed and also executive produced alongside Ta-Nehisi Coates. To learn more, visit the HBO website.
Between the World and Me Podcast
HBO’s Between the World and Me podcast is the official podcast for the HBO special event, based on the 2015 book by Ta-Nehisi Coates and the 2018 stage adaptation conceived and directed by Kamilah Forbes, staged at the Apollo Theater. Each week, host and Executive Producer Susan Kelechi Watson leads in-depth discussions with thought leaders and project creatives to extend the conversation, unpack the film, and relive key moments from the landmark work.
HBO has teamed up with the Apollo’s education department to curate one of the panels in this podcast series. The podcast premiered in November 2020 on HBO.com and HBO’s Youtube channel.
The Beginning of Between the World and Me
Based on the award-winning book by Ta-Nehisi Coates, the theatrical production of Between the World and Me pivots from the biggest questions around racism and police violence to the most intimate concerns of a father for his son. Coates offers a powerful framework for understanding our nation’s history and asks, “What is it like to inhabit a Black body and find a way to live within it? And how can we honestly reckon with this fraught history and free ourselves from its burden?” Between the World and Me, both the book and the theatrical production, provide an eye-opening, emotional look inside these conversations.
Under the creative direction of the Apollo’s Executive Producer Kamilah Forbes, the production originally premiered at the Apollo in April 2018 and was performed three times over on two consecutive nights, culminating in a one-night only performance at the John F. Kennedy Center later that month. After critical acclaim, the Apollo Theater presented the work at the Atlanta Symphony Hall in Georgia in October 2019, followed by three encore performances back at the Apollo Theater later that month.
The Apollo and Ta-Nehisi Coates
Ta-Nehisi Coates was announced as the Apollo ’s first Master Artist-in-Residence in September 2019 after developing a unique relationship with the theater.
In February 2018, Coates led a discussion on the global cultural impact of the film “Black Panther” with two of its lead actors, Chadwick Boseman and Lupita Nyong’o. A few months later, the Apollo presented the groundbreaking theatrical presentation of his book, Between the World and Me. In November 2018, the Apollo hosted a discussion with Coates and journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones on his book We Were Eight Years in Power.
In September 2019, the Apollo hosted a special conversation between Coates and Oprah Winfrey on the occasion of the launch of The Water Dancer.
To learn more about Ta-Nehisi Coates and his work with the Apollo, please check out the Master In Residence Program.
Behind the Scenes
Check out behind the scenes footage of the theatrical production of Between the World and Me at the Apollo Theater and see how Kamilah Forbes and Jason Moran were able to bring Ta-Nehisi Coates’ book to life.
It wasn’t a conceit to make a play…It’s about how do we use the elements of theater to elevate and illuminate moments from the book….What Jason is able to do as a musician is when he builds music it’s not about building a piece of music, but it’s using an instrument to communicate an emotion.
– Kamilah Forbes, Executive Producer
Meet the Creative Team
Ta-Nehisi Coates is a distinguished writer in residence at NYU’s Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute. He is the author of the bestselling books The Water Dancer, The Beautiful Struggle, We Were Eight Years in Power, and Between the World and Me, which won the National Book Award in 2015. Ta-Nehisi is a recipient of a MacArthur Fellowship. He is also the current author of the Marvel comics The Black Panther and Captain America. Ta-Nehisi Coates was announced as the Apollo’s first Master Artist-in-Residence in 2019.
Kamilah Forbes is an esteemed award-winning director and producer for theater and television. She currently serves as the Executive Producer at the World-Famous Apollo . In her diverse body of work, Kamilah is noted for having a strong commitment to the development of creative works by, for, and about the Hip-Hop generation. Her directing credits include Between the World and Me, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark , Blood Quilt, and Sunset Baby , among others. Kamilah is set to direct the Broadway premiere of Soul Train alongside Questlove, Dominique Morrisseau, and Camille A. Brown. She is the recipient of a 2019 NBTF Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award and most recently the 2020 Zelda Fichandler Award.
Jason Moran was born in Houston, TX in 1975 and earned a degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Jaki Byard. He was named a MacArthur Fellow in 2010 and is the Artistic Director for Jazz at the Kennedy Center. He has collaborated with such major figures as Adrian Piper, Joan Jonas, Glenn Ligon, Stan Douglas, Adam Pendleton, Lorna Simpson, and Kara Walker; commissioning intuitions of Moran’s Work include the Walker Art Center, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Dia Art Foundation, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Jazz at Lincoln Center, and Harlem Stage. Ava DuVernay’s documentary The 13th is scored by Jason Moran and on view via Netflix. This marks DuVernay and Moran’s second collaboration as their follow up to the movie Selma.
BETWEEN THE WORLD AND ME RESOURCE GUIDE
This Resource Guide was created to integrate the book Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates and the subsequent Apollo theatrical production into classroom curriculum. Each lesson in the Resource Guide references themes discussed in the book. The Guide provides supporting resources and references inclusive of literature and poetry, film and video, works of art and music, and a review and interview with Coates.