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An invited reading of

GENTRIFIED - Metaphor of the Drums by Levy Lee Simon

A magical realism play with 4 men and 4 women, set in contemporary, Harlem USA.

The play explores the ramifications of the gentrification movement in New York and nationally.

Made possible by the generous support of Frank Silvera Writer’s Workshop and The Billie Holiday Theatre’s Dr. Indira Etwaroo.


The Billie Holiday Theatre


Click on the faces of the team to learn more about them.

African American, and life-long Harlemite, Reggie Green is having a sexual liaison with Shannon Durbin, who is white and recently moved to Harlem. Their secret affair suddenly becomes problematic when Shannon turns up pregnant. The two must decide what to do next while contemplating the opinions of their close friends, all Black on one side and all white on the other. Cyrus, a childhood friend of Abdel, is an entrenched Harlemite and does not embrace the new Harlem. His actions and the consequences lead to major dramatic issues in the play that they all must deal with. Mason the successful attorney wants nothing to do with new Harlem or old Harlem. He couldn’t wait to get out and is happy that he did. Shannon’s, friend, Amber is married to a very successful CEO and is living a dream life but her dream life is shattered by the random violent actions of a Harlem resident. Grace, Shannon’s opinionated and politically charged friend has strong thoughts on Shannon’s pregnancy and the fact that the father is Black. Her insight on life are eye opening as she speaks her truth as a white woman living in today’s world. Issues of race, economic status power, and control are explored. As well as history through the life of the old sage like Mr. Jenkins who the landlord is trying to move out after thirty years as a Harlem resident. His refusal to move creates a potentially explosive and volatile situation that can only be solved by powers greater than any we know or are aware of. Those powers are called to earth by the drums.