Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Hal Williams, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ben Guillory, Oz Scott, Jonathan McCrory and Starletta DuPois among 2013 National Black Theatre Festival® Honorees

“An International Celebration and Reunion of Spirit”, is the theme for the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival which is held in Winston-Salem, NC from Monday, July 29 – Saturday, August 3, 2013. Actors Tonya Pinkins and Dorien Wilson are this year’s celebrity co-chairs.

The Festival kicks off on Monday, July 29, 2013 with the star-studded opening night gala, a black-tie/international formal affair that includes a sit-down dinner and awards ceremony at the M. C. Benton Convention Center, followed by a performance of THE EVE OF JACKIE: A Tribute to Jackie Wilson, starring Chester Gregory, the Festival’s showcase production, at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center. Save your theatre ticket stubs and join the fun at the after-theatre celebrity reception at the Marriott. Gala tickets are $255 per person or $2,550 for a table seating 10.

The Gala dinner begins at 5:30 p.m. The star-studded celebrity procession begins at 6:30 p.m.

Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award
Hal Williams

Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award
Ben Guillory

Emerging Producer Award
Jonathan McCrory

August Wilson Playwright Award
Richard Wesley

Lloyd Richards Director Award
Oz Scott

Living Legend Award
Starletta DuPois
Barbara Molette
Carlton Molette
Chapman Roberts

Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Paul Tazewell

Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Kathy A. Perkins

Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Patrice Andrew Davidson

Theatre Longevity Award
Black Theatre Troupe
Phoenix, AZ

Special Recognition Award
S. Epatha Merkerson

Marvtastic Philantrophy Award
Arts Council of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County

Theatre Arts & Humanitarian Award
The Late Rex Aaron Bowman

9:00pm – THE EVE OF JACKIE: A Tribute to Jackie Wilson
Chess, Not Checkers, Inc., New York, NY
Broadway actor and NAACP Theatre Award winner Chester Gregory again embodies the dynamic Jackie Wilson in an exciting new production. In The Eve of Jackie, the troubled star “tells all” during his final live
performance, just one night before his legendary collapse onstage. Written and performed by Chester Gregory.
(University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center)

Mix and mingle with the honorees, celebrity guests, and other theatre patrons.
(Marriott Hotel)

More on The Festival:
· Theatrical Productions – Approximately 120 performances are held during the six-day event. A dynamic collection of new works and Black classics are performed by professional Black theatre companies from around the world. Collegiate theatre is also represented through the Festival’s Fringe component. The shows are presented at multiple venues throughout the City of Arts and Innovation, Winston-Salem., North Carolina.

General admission tickets generally range from $8-$45. Tickets may be purchased online, by mail, and at the NBTF office. They may also be purchased during the week of the Festival at the Benton Convention Center and at production venues. Call (336) 723-2266 for group rate requests.

· Readers’ Theatre of New Works – A showcase of original works written and read by renowned and aspiring playwrights for an audience of theatre professionals and the general public. There is no admission fee for this Festival component.
· Youth/Celebrity Project – Children interact with celebrities and theatre professionals, attend age appropriate productions, and have the opportunity to perform. A subset of the Project is the Storytelling Festival conducted by members of the North Carolina Storytellers Association.
· TeenTastic (Collaborative Youth Initiative) – Focuses on providing teens ages 15-19 with Marvtastic experiences developed to capture the talent and creativity of this generation and motivate them to excel in their areas of interest.
· Youth Talent Show – performed by and for children of all ages. NBTF is currently accepting audition tapes.
· International Colloquium – This is a collaborative effort between NBTF, Winston-Salem State University and the Black Theatre Network. Theatre in Black Life / Black Life in Theatre: Form, Space, Audience, Function is the theme for 2013.Each year a panel selects the theme and keynote speaker. The opening session for this four-day forum, facilitated by international theatre professionals and academicians, is Tuesday, July 30, 2013.
· Midnight Poetry Jam – some of the hottest professional and amateur poets of today showcase their talent.
· Workshops and seminars facilitated by celebrities, academicians, and theatre professionals. Check information desks for workshop schedules.
· National Black Film Fest – This is a showcase of work from independent filmmakers.
· International Vendors Market – This is the place to be when the shows are over. Join vendors representing all corners of the globe juxtaposed with sponsor booths. Live entertainment adds to personal shopping pleasure. The Vendors Market will be open July 31-August 3 at the Benton Convention Center. To contact vendor coordinator Rhonda Caldwell call (704) 332-5819.
· The Collegiate One-Act Play Reading Marathon, coordinated by North Carolina Central University’s Department of Theatre and hosted by The National Black Theatre Festival®, aims to acknowledge and foster student playwrights through the recognition and exposure of their dramatic works.
· Larry Leon Hamlin Solo Performance Series – This specialized series, named after the festival’s founder, Larry Leon Hamlin, are historical biographies of known and unknown African Americans. Some of the historical characters that have been featured in this series are Rosa Parks, Paul Robeson, Zora Neal Hurston, Josephine Baker, Emmett Till, Jim Beckwourth, and Lena Baker. It was Mr. Hamlin’s vision that plays continue to live beyond the Festival. These solo performances are specifically designed and directed toward higher learning institutions with the immediate intention of hiring these shows for schools, special events, fraternity and sorority organizations, and cultural celebrations throughout the year and especially during Black History Month.

If you are interested in being one of the 1,500 volunteers, download a volunteer application from or call (336) 723-2266.

The NBTF official hotels are:

Marriott Twin City Quarter Embassy Suites
425 N. Cherry Street 460 N. Cherry Street
Winston-Salem, NC 27101 Winston-Salem, NC 27101
336/725-3500 – 877/ 888-9762 336/724-3400 – 800/362-2779

Visit for other festival hotels.

The National Black Theatre Festival® (NBTF) is the international outreach program of the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC), Winston-Salem, NC. The Festival was founded in 1989 by the Late Larry Leon Hamlin and is produced by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company.

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang. Photo by Thom Sesma

Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. This summer she will appear as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Penwah, July 30-August 1, 2013.

Articles on the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival:
Celebrity Actress, Pauletta Pearson Washington returns home to North Carolina starring at 2013 National Black Theatre festival with Roscoe Orman (Sesame Street, Willie Dynamite) and all star cast in Lorey Hayes’ award-winning “Power Play”, a play about Politics, Passion and The Power of God
Video: Power Play’s Lorey Hayes and Lia Chang on The Carmen Mathis Show
Photos: Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss Starring André De Shields Featured in Encore Performances at The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, July 30-August 1, 2013
Lorey Hayes’ Power Play Set for National Black Theatre Festival 7/30-8/1

Other Articles by Lia Chang:
Photos: Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Phylicia Rashad, John Earl Jelks, Leslie Uggams, Anthony Chisholm, S. Epatha Merkerson, Taraji P. Henson, Jesse L. Martin, Stephen McKinley Henderson, Kenny Leon and More Set for August Wilson American Century Cycle Recording Series at The Greene Space in NY, Aug. 26-Sept. 28, 2013
Phylicia Rashad to Helm August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone at the CTG/Mark Taper Forum at The Music Center, April 24 – June 9, 2013
Photos: All-Access Pass to August Wilson’s Two Trains Running with John Earl Jelks, Harvy Blanks, Chuck Cooper, Anthony Chisholm, Owiso Odera, Roslyn Ruff and James A. Williams
Signature’s Off-Broadway Revival of August Wilson’s The Piano Lesson, helmed by Ruben Santiago-Hudson, runs October 30 -December 9, 2012
Signature Theatre’s 2013-14 Season Features New Works by Albee, Hwang, Enos, Taylor, Wilson, Clarke and Jacobs-Jenkins
Photos: The 58th Annual Drama Desk Awards and After Party
Photos: Phylicia Rashad, Michael McElroy, Marva Hicks in Broadway Inspirational Voices “Wondrous Grace” Concert at the Central Presbyterian Church in NY
Chuck Cooper, Austin Pendleton, Nicholas L. Ashe, Kyle Beltran, Grantham Coleman, Jeremy Pope, and Wallace Smith Set for MTC’s World Premiere of Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Choir Boy, June 18- July 21, 2013
Photos: David Henry Hwang’s The Dance and The Railroad Opening Night
Photos: David Duchovny, John Earl Jelks, Amanda Peet, Tracee Chimo opening night of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon
John Earl Jelks is featured in MCC Theater’s world premiere of Neil LaBute’s The Break of Noon at the Lucille Lortel
Production Photos: Mary Zimmerman-helmed Disney’s The Jungle Book featuring Two-Time Tony Nominee André De Shields, Nehal Joshi, Akash Chopra, Govind Kumar and More at The Goodman, Extends Through August 11, 2013
Here Lies Love, Starring Jose Llana and Ruthie Ann Miles, Extends at The Public through July 28, 2013
Photos: Working Theater’s World Premiere of Ed Cardona, Jr.’s La Ruta
Photos: Q & A with Mel Sagrado Maghuyop, The King in Harbor Lights’ Production of The King and I
Playing Lady Thiang in the Harbor Lights’ Production of The King and I is a dream come true for Christine Toy Johnson
Tony Award Winner Tonya Pinkins Celebrates Ethel Waters at 54 Below on August 27, 2012
Photos: All-Access Pass to Disney’s Aladdin at The Muny with Thom Sesma, Francis Jue, Robin De Jesus, John Tartaglia, Jason Graae, Curtis Holbrook, Eddie Korbich, Samantha Massell and Ken Page
C.J. Wilson navigates armor and swordplay in Signature Theatre Company’s World Premiere of Kenneth Lonergan’s Medieval Play
Up Close and Personal with Darren Pettie, Star of The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore
Photos and Video: Disney’s The Lion King Las Vegas- In the Makeup Chair with Thom Sesma
Performing Arts Images from the Asian American Pacific Islander Collection on Display at the Library of Congress to Celebrate APA Heritage Month
Photos: Yellow Fever Playwright Rick Shiomi Explores New Territory with An All-Female Cast
Click here for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.

All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2013 Lia Chang Multimedia. All rights reserved. All materials contained on this site are protected by United States copyright law and may not be reproduced, distributed, transmitted, displayed, published or broadcast without the prior written permission of Lia Chang. You may not alter or remove any trademark, copyright or other notice from copies of the content. For permission, please contact Lia at

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