The National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, NC, is a one-of-a-kind experience, and I’ve been fortunate to have experienced it twice. First in 1991 and then in 2013, I attended the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival as part of the cast of Lorey Hayes’ Power Play, which starred Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Lorey Hayes, Marcus Naylor and Phynjuar, and was directed by Andre Robinson.
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.
The 2015 National Black Theatre Festival will be held in Winston-Salem, NC, from August 3-8, 2015.
In celebration of Black History Month, below is my all-access photo coverage featured in my photo book of The 2013 National Black Theatre Festival.
Voza Rivers’ New Heritage Theatre Group presented a VIP dress rehearsal of Power Play at Mist in New York on July 26, 2013, prior to our cast leaving for the National Black Theatre Festival.
Actors Tonya Pinkins and Dorien Wilson were exceptional co-chairs of The Festival, and also performed in their own shows.
The Festival kicked off on July 29, 2013 with the star-studded opening night gala, a black-tie/international formal affair that included a sit-down dinner and awards ceremony at the M. C. Benton Convention Center.
2013 NATIONAL BLACK THEATRE FESTIVAL® HONOREES
Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award
Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award
Emerging Producer Award
August Wilson Playwright Award
Lloyd Richards Director Award
Living Legend Award
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Kathy A. Perkins
Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Patrice Andrew Davidson
Photos: Late Night with Patrice Andrew Davidson, 2013 NBTF Award Recipient for Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Theatre Longevity Award
Black Theatre Troupe
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
The dinner was followed by a NAACP Theatre Award winner Chester Gregory’s dynamic performance of THE EVE OF JACKIE: A Tribute to Jackie Wilson, the Festival’s showcase production written by Gregory, at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center. Gregor embodied the dynamic Jackie Wilson in this exciting new production, as the troubled star “tells all” during his final live performance, just one night before his legendary collapse onstage.
After my matinee performance of Power Play, I headed over to the Gerald Freeman Theatre to photograph backstage and production photos of the returning Festival favorite – Charles Smith’s Knock Me A Kiss at the Gerald Freeman Theatre, directed by Chuck Smith, a co-production of Woodie King Jr.’s New Federal Theatre and Legacy Creative Arts Company.
The cast included original castmembers André De Shields as W.E.B. Du Bois, Erin Cherry as Yolande Du Bois, Gillian Glasco as Lenora, Morocco Omari as Jimmy Lunceford, Sean Phillips as Countee Cullen, and Marie Thomas as Nina Du Bois.
On February 14, 2015, a celebration of the life and legacy of Garland Lee Thompson, Sr., New York theatre producer, writer, director, actor, co-founder and Executive Director of the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop, took place in two “acts ” in New York. Act I: a memorial at St. James Presbyterian Church in Harlem, NY; and Act II: The Presentation and Reception at Theater for the New City, which featured an afternoon of readings, poetry, performances, birthday celebration and a reception in Thompson’s honor.
ACT III is being held during the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival. The Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. will be held on Thursday, August 6, 2015, On Thursday, August 6, 2015, the Celebration of Life reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. will be at the Convention Center from 3 to 7pm.
Live Jazz and African/Native American Drummers and more; complimentary food and wine will be served. To join the presenting committee, email your full name to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 678-739-6674.
Feb. 14: Remembering Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. with a Memorial at St. James Presbyterian Church; Presentation-Reception at Theater for the New City
Photos: Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Micki Grant, Woodie King Jr., Voza Rivers, Talvin Wilks, Garland Thompson Jr., Charles Turner, Jamal Joseph, Debra Ann Byrd and More at harlem is…Theater
Remembering Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. (1938-2014); Memorial Set for February 14, 2015
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. Each year a panel selects the theme and keynote speaker.
· 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. 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 www.NBTF.org 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 www.NBTF.org for other festival hotels.
National Black Theatre Festival Articles
National Black Theatre Festival Photos: Backstage with André De Shields, Marie Thomas, Erin Cherry, Sean Phillips and Morocco Omari in Knock Me A Kiss
Hal Williams, S. Epatha Merkerson, Ben Guillory, Oz Scott, Jonathan McCrory and Starletta DuPois among 2013 National Black Theatre Festival® Honorees
Two Films by Fay Hauser-Price Screen during the National Black Theatre Festival at the Central Library in Winston-Salem on July 31, 2013
Tonya Pinkins, Dorien Wilson, Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, Rain Pryor, André De Shields, Debbi Morgan, Chester Gregory, Tommy Ford and More Set for National Black Theatre Festival® in Winston-Salem, NC
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
The Chronicle Features Lorey Hayes’ Power Play
Febone1960.net Review: Power Play Powerful & Suspenseful
A Summer in Bangkok for Thom Sesma, Star of Signature’s Miss Saigon
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
Lia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia starred as Carole Barbara in Lorey Hayes’ Power Play at the 2013 National Black Theatre Festival in Winston-Salem, N.C., with Pauletta Pearson Washington, Roscoe Orman, and made her jazz vocalist debut in Rome Neal’s Banana Puddin’ Jazz “LADY” at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in New York. She is profiled in Jade Magazine.
Other Articles by Lia Chang:
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