Backstage Pass with Lia Chang

Bill Cobbs, Nate Jacobs, Erich McMillan-McCall, Katori Hall, Clinton Turner Davis, ESOSA, A. Peter Bailey, Maurice Hines, Robert Hooks, Grace Jones, Hattie Winston, Karamu House & More among 2015 National Black Theatre Festival Honorees; Gala on August 3


Debbi Morgan

Debbi Morgan

Darnell Williams

Darnell Williams

Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams, who portrayed the iconic couple “Angie and Jesse” on the long running daytime television series “All My Children,” will serve as Celebrity Co-Chairs for the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival, August 3-8 in Winston-Salem, NC.

Connect with the Marvtastic passion, splendor and valor of the African and the African American cultures as Black Theatre takes center stage in Winston-Salem, NC over six exciting days.

Highlights include the Star Studded Opening Night Celebrity Gala, Theatre Productions, Readers’ Theatre of New Works/Plays, Theatre Workshops, International Colloquium (presented by NBTF, Winston-Salem State University and the Black Theatre Newtork), the Youth/Celebrity Project and Teen TeenTastic, films, seminars, a teen poetry slam and the International Vendor’s Market which features vendors and crafts from every corner of the globe and live entertainment. Don’t forget to buy a 2015 Souvenir Journal and learn more about the participating companies, the distinguished NBTF honorees, a map of the performance venues and much more.

August 3, 2015
5:30pm – OPENING NIGHT GALA – $262 (#1)
Make reservations for this glamorous event.
Tickets $262 per person, $2,620 table seating 10.
(M.C. Benton Convention Center)

With NBTF Co-Chairs, Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams.

2015 National Black Theatre Festival Honorees
Sidney Poitier Lifelong Achievement Award
Bill Cobbs
Larry Leon Hamlin Producer Award
Nate Jacobs
Emerging Producer Award
Erich McMillan-McCall
August Wilson Playwright Award
Katori Hall
Lloyd Richards Director Award
Clinton Turner Davis
Living Legend Award
A. Peter Bailey
Maurice Hines
Robert Hooks
Grace Jones
Hattie Winston
Outstanding Achievement in Costume Design
Outstanding Achievement in Lighting Design
Allen Lee Hughes
Outstanding Achievement in Scenic Design
Harlan Penn
Theatre Longevity Award
The Carpetbag Theatre, Inc. – Knoxville, TN
Special Recognition Award
Karamu House (100 years old)
Cleveland, OH
Special Recognition Award
Rachel P. Jackson
Marvtastic Philanthrophy Award
The Millennium Fund
Theatre Arts & Humanitarian Award
Warren Dell Leggett


A Chapman Roberts Concept, Inc., New York, NY
A soaring music and dance celebration of the glorious 100 year history of African Americans on Broadway and at Carnegie Hall, this Gala All Broadway Star Production is specifically designed to honor NBTF luminaries past and present. (Musical – General Audience) University of North Carolina School of the Arts Stevens Center

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

Theatre Festival Play Schedule – A schedule of plays and events can be obtained by contacting the NBTF for a printed schedule or going online to The schedule will include the play’s title, date, time, location and the play number. Some plays are performed several times during the week, so knowing the play number is very important.

Purchasing Tickets – Advance tickets may be purchased for the 2015 festival by calling the Festival box office at (336) 723-7907. These tickets will be mailed up to two weeks prior to the festival or picked up at the M.C. Benton Convention Center.

On Thursday, August 6, 2015, The Salute for the renowned Theatre historical icon the late Garland Lee Thompson Sr.will be held at the Hearn Grand Ballroom at the Marriott Winston Salem 425 North Cherry Street Winston Salem NC 27101. (change of venue because of popular demand)

The late Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. at The Festival's opening night gala on July 29, 2013. Born on February 14, 1938 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Garland Lee Thompson, Sr., passed away quickly and peacefully on November 18, 2014. He was 76 years old. Photo by Lia Chang

The late Garland Lee Thompson, Sr. at The Festival’s opening night gala on July 29, 2013. Born on February 14, 1938 in Muskogee, Oklahoma, Garland Lee Thompson, Sr., passed away quickly and peacefully on November 18, 2014. He was 76 years old. Photo by Lia Chang

Staged Readings, Poets, Otesha Creative Arts Ensemble, Stilt Dancer, Eagle Feather Native American Dancers and Drummers, Joe Robinson Jazz Ensemble, DJ Bill, Celebrity Speakers, Tributes, Gospel Singer,Rome Neal’s Musical Tribute.
2PM to 3PM The Drumming and Dance Uniion of the Eagle Feather Dance Troupe and Hashim Saleh and the Otesea Creative Arts African Drmmers and Dancers
3-7PM Program and Dancing Directed by Woodie King Jr.
Hearn Ballroom Winston Salem Marriott

To join the presenting committee, email your full name to 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

If you are interested in being one of the 1,500 volunteers for the National Black Theatre Festival, 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.

Festival History
Founded in Winston-Salem by the late Larry Leon Hamlin in 1989 and hosted by the North Carolina Black Repertory Company (NCBRC), NBTF is a biennial event with a purpose of uniting black theatre companies from around the world and ensuring the presence of this phenomenal genre. Mr. Leon Hamlin described the experience as “MARVTASTIC,” a combination of marvelous and fantastic! With the support of Dr. Maya Angelou, who served as the Festival’s first Chairperson, the National Black Theatre Festival was born. The ’89 Festival offered 30 performances by 17 of America’s best professional black theatre companies. It attracted national and international media coverage. According to The New York Times, “The 1989 National Black Theatre Festival was one of the most historic and culturally significant events in the history of black theatre and American theatre in general.” Over 10,000 people attended. Today that number reaches well over 65,000 attendees.

Ten years prior to starting the National Black Theatre Festival, Larry Leon Hamlin founded another black theater movement in Winston-Salem that is still present today. The North Carolina Black Repertory Company is the state’s first professional Black theater company. NCBRC is committed to introducing diverse audiences to Black classics, the development and production of new works, improving artistic quality, and sustaining Black theatre internationally. NCBRC was founded with the purpose of providing theatre professionals the opportunity to earn a living through their craft.

NCBRC presents three to four productions annually featuring members of its ensemble or through collaborations with other theatre companies from around the country. The annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration and the holiday presentation of Langston Hughes’ Black Nativity have become two of the Company’s staples. The critically acclaimed NCBRC production, Mahalia, Queen of Gospel (written and directed by Mabel Robinson, the company’s Artistic Director) was a National Black Theatre Festival showcase performance.

National Black Theatre Festival Articles‘All My Children’ stars to co-chair National Black Theatre Festival
ALL MY CHILDREN ALUM Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams to Co-Chair the 2015 National Black Theatre Festival, August 3-8‘All My Children’ stars to co-chair National Black Theatre Festival
Photos: National Black Theatre Festival 2013; NBTF runs August 3-8, 2015 and will include Act III – A Celebration of Life Reception saluting the late theatre icon Garland Lee Thompson, Sr.
Cheryl L. Davis’ Maid’s Door Sweeps AUDELCOs with 7 Wins; Complete List of 2014 AUDELCO Recipients
Chapman Roberts, Loretta Abbott, André De Shields, David Greer, Norm Lewis, Cherine Anderson, Lawrence Evans, Colby Christina & Nicholas A. Jenkins to Receive Special AUDELCO Awards on Nov. 17; 2014 AUDELCO Nominees Announced
2014 AUDELCO Nominations Announced; Ceremony at Peter Jay Sharp Theatre at Symphony Space on November 17
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 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

cropped-lia-chang_photo-by-carlos-flores-3.jpgLia Chang is an actor, a performance and fine art botanical photographer, and an award-winning multi-platform journalist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon and Taxman. She has guest starred on “One Life to Live,” “As the World Turns,” and “New York Undercover.” She is profiled in Jade Magazine.

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Click here  for the Lia Chang Articles Archive and here for the Lia Chang Photography Website.
All text, graphics, articles & photographs: © 2000-2015 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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