Virtual ‘Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso’ series continues with guest Charles Dumas

– by Edward Stoddard

I had the great pleasure "back in the day" of attending some spoken word/poetry nights organized by Charles Dumas in Downtown State College. They were great nights with an incredibly talented individual who drew in talented students and locals to perform. Mr. Dumas stepped up to the mic at least once per night himself. I will never forget it. Be sure to attend this virtual event.

Mwenso and Dumas

Michael Mwenso will continue the “Meeting the Moment” livestream series at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28. In the second episode of his virtual series dedicated to Black artists, Mwenso will speak with Charles Dumas, professor emeritus of the Penn State School of Theatre.

The free live webisode will be broadcast via the Zoom video app, and questions will be taken in real time from audience members. Visit “Meeting the Moment” at for more information.

Contributions from the members of the Center for the Performing Arts and a grant from the University Park Student Fee Board help make the program free of charge. Meghan R. Mason Program Endowment and Richard Robert Brown Program Endowment provide support for “Meeting the Moment.”

The program is part of the center’s “Up Close and Virtual” fall season. “Meeting the Moment with Michael Mwenso” also is the keystone event of the center’s Fierce Urgency Festival, the center’s commitment to celebrating Black artists and sharing their stories. Learn more about the festival at

Penn State College of Arts and Architecture Dean B. Stephen Carpenter II introduced the series by interviewing Mwenso in September.

“During last month’s conversation with Dean Carpenter, Michael mentioned that one of his musical influences is the great bluesman Willie Dixon. It so happens that Charles (Dumas) is working on a play about Willie Dixon, so we knew the two of them would have much to discuss,” said Amy Dupain Vashaw, audience and program development director at the center. “Both are steeped in the history of the blues and are soulful humans themselves. I look forward to traveling a musical journey with them.”

Dumas, who retired from Penn State in 2013, remains active in the university theater community. The actor, writer and playwright devised and directs “The Osaze Project,” a theatrical workshop to be staged in November that explores the incidents that led to the 2019 death of State College resident Osaze Osagie. In 2002, Dumas was a Fulbright Fellow at Stellenbosch University in South Africa. He has written and directed more than 50 plays.

As curator and events programmer at Jazz at Lincoln Center, Mwenso booked and performed with the likes of Cécile McLorin Salvant, Jon Batiste, Aaron Diehl, Sullivan Fortner and Jamison Ross. And through performances at Dizzy’s Club Coca-Cola, he collaborated with a variety of Juilliard-trained musicians, a global-artist collective that became known as The Shakes. Because of his expertise on Black cultural and musical history, Mwenso recently was appointed a visiting professor of the arts at the University of Buffalo, teaching “Protest, Hope and Resilience through the Black Arts.”

Watch Mwenso perform with The Shakes in a music video for “No Regrets” at

For more information about the webisode series and forthcoming events, visit

The center will announce more details about upcoming guest artists for the webisodes, the Fierce Urgency Festival and additional arts program opportunities in the coming weeks. Become an Arts Insider to stay up to date on the center’s virtual programming.

Geisinger and Northwest provide support for virtual presentations by the Center for the Performing Arts.

Visit for updated events, details on accessing the livestream performances, and discussions and engagement opportunities.

Find the Center for the Performing Arts on Facebook at, on Twitter at and on Instagram at

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